Weekend Special: RudyBlogger's 2008 Power Rankings
This past week, Race42008 published my primary Power Rankings -- what I really think about the 2008 nomination process. Take a gander below.
Note: George Allen's odds are now (at best) in the 10-15% range after this week.
1. Giuliani – 27% chance of winning
I’m picking my guy Rudy for the top slot, but the race is exceptionally tight among the top four, and Rudy currently has a 27% chance of winning – hardly a commanding lead over Mitt Romney’s 26%. If he gets in, and I’m assuming he does, the race will start revolving around Rudy as people figure out that McCain is no longer necessary to guarantee a Hillary defeat. My odds are largely done on the basis of head-to-head matchups among the top four, and I give Rudy 70% odds of defeating McCain head to head, but only a slight edge over Mitt Romney and dead even odds against George Allen. The more conservative the challenger (within reason), the easier it will be to contrast with Rudy. To be sure, Rudy needs to do a lot of things right to merit top billing. He can’t dream of moving forward without giving us solid assurances on judges. He’ll get knocked down a peg or two in the primaries, but he’s got a lot of room to fall – and he’s one of the few politicians I’ve seen whose support is as deep as it is wide.
2. Romney – 26% chance of winning
I actually don’t foresee a Rudy-Romney battle down the stretch. Both of these men occupy roughly the same space – competent, take-charge executives without the drawl. If one of them collapses well into the race, I’d see support flowing fairly easily to the other. But if the MSM scenario of a Rudy collapse does come true, bet on Romney to be the one who stops McCain. He’s not as well known, but the more people see him, the more they like him. And if he wears well, he can easily overcome the deficit he now faces in electability vs. Hillary, though I don’t foresee him taking the outright lead. Romney is also building an incredible operation in the early primary states.
3. McCain – 20% chance of winning
This one will earn me scorn and ridicule with the Beltway crowd, but I’ll heap it right back on them. I’m normally a conventional-wisdom kind of guy, but they’ve dramatically misread the situation with McCain. His lukewarm ratings, especially among the people who really vote in primaries, make his candidacy DOA, most notably against a Rudy or a Romney. So, what does McCain have going for him to keep him at #3? Two big things: He’s been through this once before, so he has an in-built infrastructure and name-ID edge in the early states. Granite Staters and Michiganders have voted for him before. Secondly, the Hillary factor-Republicans may be so desperate that they’ll nominate him, but that becomes largely irrelevant if the more trusted Rudy runs. If he does win – and I don’t discount the possibility – he will be a Dole-Kerry type of nominee, who won by default because more appealing candidates build a head of steam, shorn of the straight talk that made him so exciting in 2000.
4. Allen – 20% chance of winning
George Allen is a natural favorite of grassroots conservatives and it’s tempting to put him right up there with Rudy. If Rudy emerges as a serious contender, expect Allen to rise right up to challenge him as the conservative counterweight. He’s weak against Hillary, but his greatest chance of success comes if social conservatives really do decide to do a kamikaze on Rudy. In a normal year, a candidate like Allen would be a solid favorite for the nomination. But coming after eight years of a folksy, likeable guy named George, Republicans will probably take pause before nominating a Bush clone.
5. Huckabee – 5% chance of winning
If there’s anyone who fills the McCain 2000 role in this race, it’s Huckabee, who combines Christian conservative credentials (he’s a Baptist minister) with straight talk and heterodox positions that the media will slobber all over. He’s a wildcard who could surprise us in Iowa and edge into the top three nationally. And he’s a Governor in a race that badly needs more of them.
6. Gingrich – 1% chance of winning
Those banging the Newt drum do so without any notion of just how unelectable he’d be. But he does seem to have a stubborn streak of national appeal that can’t be ignored.
7. Senator Bill Frist – 0% chance of winning
Great bio, horrible leader. He’ll have lots of money, but that’s about it. The question is if voters have a short enough attention span that he’ll be able to refocus attention on his appealing personal narrative and Presidential demeanor. If he were running in 2012, maybe. And in American politics, you don’t fail up.
8. Brownback – 0% chance of winning
He can be the Gary Bauer or Alan Keyes of Iowa ‘08. But that’s about it. Doesn’t have the fire in the belly to be a populist in the mold of Pat Buchanan and Howard Dean, and that’s what you need to if you’re a dark horse.
9. Pataki - 0% chance of winning
DOA. And did I mention that pit in lower Manhattan?
10. Hagel - 0% chance of winning
11. Tancredo - 0% chance of winning
If the immigration issue is still hot, I can see him pulling 15 or 20% in Iowa or New Hampshire and making the cover of Time magazine, and that if he’s smart. But he’s got the same problem as Brownback – a milquetoast personality. They don’t make protest candidates like they used to. He’s more Morry Taylor than Pat Robertson.