Sunday, May 1, 2011

Republican Presidential Rankings List Updated

The informal race for the Republican nomination is well under way. It is time to update the rankings list I came up with for the candidate most likely to come away with the nomination. Here it is! The list is somewhat abbreviated due to the uncertainty over who will ultimately run.

1. Tim Pawlenty

I realize this pick will come as a strong surprise to most. He barely registers in most polls and he has low name recognition. The reason I think he currently has the best chance to do win is because he has done the most of anyone outside Mitt Romney to lay the groundwork for a campaign which will pay off in early states like Iowa and New Hampshire. He also has the best chance to be the consensus conservative in the race. No wing of the Republican Party seriously objects to him. The same cannot be said of other major contenders. What I suspect is that the race could come down to him vs. another candidate who has angered some portion of the party’s base. In that competition, you’d have to give Pawlenty—who has angered no one—decent odds.

2. Mike Huckabee

It’s true that Mike Huckabee has not made the serious moves that some other contenders have. But there are some powerful factors in his favor. He is almost always at the top of national polls. He still retains a large following from his 2008 campaign. I would say he is the odds on favorite to win in Iowa and South Carolina if he runs due to his popularity with social conservatives. It’s difficult to see a current candidate challenging him for the evangelical voters in Iowa where he won in 2008. With early wins from these crucial states, Huckabee would have momentum to carry him to Super Tuesday. One of his principal defects as a candidate in 2008 was that he was unable to raise a lot of money. But with higher name recognition, and all the contacts from his 2008 campaign, I suspect he will be able to raise more money even if fundraising is never his strong suit. The biggest problem for Huckabee is the fact that some fiscal conservatives have questions about his record as Governor. But Huckabee is far to the right of Obama on taxes and spending and fiscal conservatives may well decide that his electability and appeal to working class swing voters make him worth nominating so he can beat Obama even if his record isn’t perfect.

I think these two currently have the best chance to win. But clearly, the field is in flux right now in part because it is unclear who will actually run. I will be able to make predictions with greater certainty as the field takes shape.

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