The Also Rans: Look, Gingrich, Santorum, Buddy Roemer, and Ron Paul aren't going to do anything this election (or ever). Also, Trump and Huckabee are out, for different reasons. I think Huckabee knows he's basically topped out in support, and its not enough for the nomination (and running for President sucks), so he's out. Trump can't stand the heat either. Both are done.
Interesting Players: This is the group that'll go nowhere, but will maintain a pretty decent sized interest until the voting starts (and then they'll be toast).
Herman Cain: Too crazy to win anything, but he's an African American conservative similar to Alan Keyes. By that I mean, Cain isn't going to try to pretend he's not African American, and has no problem talking about racism (although he's terribly anti-Muslim).
Sarah Palin: A lot of people call Sarah Palin a rockstar because she attracts so much attention. And Sarah Palin is the polar opposite of most politicians - she loves running for office, but she hates actual governing. In light of that, Palin is not so much a rockstar but a popstar (who has other people write her songs, is all fluff). Her negatives are also horrific.
Could-Be's: These are the guys who could be in contention if someone (*cough*Romney*cough) stumbles badly.
John Huntsman: I'm not sure if he's the rich man's Romney, or the poor man's Romney, but he's a socially moderate, fiscally conservative Republican who is Mormon and occasionally willing to cross party lines. Basically, he's exactly like Romney, only with less flip-flopping and weird sense of humor. Of course, he's now running against his boss. . .
Tim Pawlenty: Another Romney-type, but was a less than successful governor (unlike Romney and Huntsman), boring, not good on television, and not interesting.
The one thing that's certain is that Republican primary voters aren't exactly thrilled with their choices. So, anything can change at any time. With that caveat in mind, here are the candidates who I think have a shot for the nomination:
Pros: He's smart, rich, capable on television, has a radio announcer voice, was a successful Republican governor of a blue state, handsome, and somewhat moderate. Oh, and he's been building a warchest and an election team since 2008.
Cons: He flip-flops a lot, his health care program in Massachusetts formed the basis on which the Affordable Health Care Act was based (except his program DOES cover abortion), has a weird sense of humor, is Mormon, and may want it too badly (and it shows).
Pros: Smart, a Palin-esque rockstar image but actually likes to hold elective office, very conservative, little if any record on flip-flops, will work hard for the shot (unlike Palin), has a solid group of support behind her (the Tea Partiers), telegenic.
Cons: She's crazy. And by crazy, I mean Ron Artest (circa 2004) crazy. Her approach to governance is dogmatic, and she has crazy eyes. At any point in time, she's liable to do just about anything. A complete wildcard.
As I said before, this thing could go any which way. But I think that Romney v. Bachmann matchup will provide the GOP voters with a stark choice - true conservativism (Bachmann), or moderation (Romney). If Romney grabs the nomination, then dollars to doughnuts Bachmann is his VP. If Bachmann is the nominee, she'll pick a wildcard like her. Only way to go. Either way, Michele Bachmann will end up on the ticket.
*Every time I say the word "strategy" in my mind, it always comes out "strategery" - Damn you, Will Ferrel.