Power rankings, which are generally used in sports, are periodical lists ranking the teams from best to worst. Next to each team is a brief justification for the team’s rank. In five minutes, readers can get a sense of how the teams compare with one another as well as the major trends that are affecting the sport.
This blog will be bringing the concept of power rankings to the 2012 Republican nomination race. The candidates will be ranked based on their likelihood of winning the nomination.
So, here they are, the first installment of the 2012 power rankings:
- Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts. Every poll I have seen since the start of this year has had one of three people in the top spot: Romney, Huckabee or Trump. Huckabee and Trump have both recently decided not to run, which leaves Romney the clear favorite. Adding to Romney’s strength, he seems to be dictating the party’s agenda right now. He has largely endorsed the Ryan budget plan and most other candidates have followed along. When Gingrich questioned the Ryan plan, Romney attacked, the rest of the party followed, and Gingrich backed down. Romney’s big weakness is healthcare, but for the moment, that issue is not enough to prevent him from being the front runner.
- Tim Pawlenty, former Governor of Minnesota. Pawlenty is similar to the John Kerry of 2004. He’s boring. He’s awkward. He doesn’t inspire anybody. Yet, nobody really dislikes him. He was not even able to win a debate in which he was the only candidate who showed up that the audience had heard of before. Nonetheless, in a flawed field, Pawlenty has a shot simply because Republican voters don’t have any major objections to him.
- Michelle Bachman/Sarah Palin, Representative from Minnesota and former Governor of Alaska, respectively. These two occupy the same place right now because they are essentially the same candidate and, in all likelihood, only one of them will run. With Huckabee in the race, these two would be much further down the list. However, his exit has left Evangelical, southern and lower class voters completely up for grabs. Mitch Daniels, Governor of Indiana, would have been attractive to those voters, but he also recently decided not to run. So, Bachman and Palin get a pretty high spot on this list simply because they could come in and easily sweep up a lot of voters who are waiting for a candidate who appeals to them.
- Jon Huntsman, former Ambassador to China (under Obama) and former Governor of Utah. Since he just returned from China, he has yet to establish himself as a candidate or even decide to run. If he does run, he will likely present himself as a more moderate candidate, who is willing to break ranks with Romney and the rest of the Republicans.
- Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House. Two weeks ago, Gingrich had two possible paths to the nomination: toe the Romney line and play to the populists in his party, or break ranks, present himself as a conservative willing to take moderate approaches to solve problems and sneak up on the field. Unfortunately for Gingrich fans, he seemed to firmly take the second road only to yield under attack from Romney and others. The result was a disaster for his campaign, culminating in this unbelievable press release: It has yet to be seen whether the Gingrich campaign can pick up the pieces.
- Herman Cain, businessman. By most accounts, Cain won the first debate. His biggest problem is probably that he is black. He is a Washington outsider and believes in small government and socially conservative principles. That means he needs to win the South in order to win the nomination. In 2008, I was surprised that majorities in states like North Carolina and Virginia would vote for an African American for President. However, I still have trouble believing that a black candidate could win Republican primaries (which tend to be dominated by older voters) in the deep South. Unless he can win those primaries, Cain cannot win the nomination.
- Ron Paul, Representative from Texas. He is a staunch libertarian. He never got much support four years ago, and there is no reason to expect him to get more this time.
- Rick Santorum, former Senator from Pennsylvania. Santorum is very socially conservative. Several years ago, he offended some gay-rights supporters enough that they decided to drag his name through the mud. It worked. To this day, googling “santorum,” yields a very unsavory page as one of the top results. Santorum has no chance.
- Gary Johnson, former Governor of New Mexico. He introduced himself to voters in the first debate as whiney and unpresidential. He also has no chance.