Okay, okay, this isn't the 87th installment of my GOP Presidential contenders post, but I've lost count, and am too lazy to look it up. From a political science perspective, this primary is interesting because it will be the first time GOP primary voters will pick someone to go head to head with Obama.
Now, you might say to yourself, "Wait, wasn't McCain the nominee in 2008?" Well, yes, but the GOP voters picked McCain not just because it was his time (a la Bob Dole in 1996), but also because they felt that McCain would be the best matchup with Hillary Clinton - who the voters presumed would be the nominee. After all, Hillary had all the firepower going into the election, she looked good on television, and she's a hell of a candidate. But what the GOP voters failed to realize at the time is that Obama's campaign would be so well organized and so smartly run, and the depth of anger in the Democratic base over Iraq (I really need to have post on that one of these days). Now, that's not a big surprise, because they weren't close enough to the campaigns to see what was what. And the shock of Obama still hasn't worn off for many GOP voters (OMG he's an African American with a Muslim name!). Hell, the list of debunked Obama on Snopes.com is crazy.
Of course, it has occurred to me that, like the GOP voters in 2008, I am not privvy to the inside information on a fair number of candidates. In the topsy-turvy world of Presidential politics, things like campaign organization and money matter as much as policy positions. But hey, if I paid attention to that, I wouldn't bother to write anything at all, so without further ado:
Mitt Romney: We all know who he is, and most of us don't like him. But, he has money, he has the organization (spent the past 4 years running), and if he catches fire with the base, he takes the nomination easy. He'll get a solid 20-25% of every primary, and probably kill at the caucuses outside of Iowa (because of his organization). As a Democrat, I'm scared to death of the guy because he is a good match-up to Obama, but as a realist, I doubt he's conservative enough for the Tea Party.
Rick Perry: He's the candidate with that new candidate smell. He's telegenic, has clever marketing, and being from Texas, is used to running a large political organization. He's also well in line with the Tea Partiers (except for the HPV vaccine thing). But, he thinks that Social Security is a ponzi scheme, that Ben Bernanke is a traitor for doing his job, and generally reminds people of George Bush. As a match-up with Obama, I like Perry on the Social Security issue alone. As a patriot, the chance that he might be elected President scares the hell out of me. The question right now is whether or not Perry can whether the storm, and whether or not his organization is up and running. His debate performances have been terrible, but his presence has made everyone else step up their game.
Michelle Bachmann: Speaking of organization, Bachmann has none. For her entire political career, she's been a district-based legislator, and has never run state-wide for anything. This bodes ill for her future. Not surprisingly, with Perry in the race, her campaign has virtually collapsed, and Bachmann is up to her old tricks - stating that the HPV vaccine that Perry ordered every Texan girl to get caused mental retardation. (Note: even Rush Limbaugh thinks this is nuts). She's still a darling of the far-right wing, but electability problems abound. And heck, if those problems are dogging Rick Perry, who's serving his third term as Governor of Texas, they're going to dog Bachmann, who is a crazy Congresswoman from Minnesota.
Ron Paul: With libertarianism being in vogue in the GOP as of late, its a good time to mention Ron Paul. He opposed the Iraq War, opposes all governmental spending, and is anti-tax. All are high points for Tea Partiers and the youth vote. On the other hand, he's pro-life (not very libertarian), and willingly accepts that if government spending is cut to the point he wants, people will die. Also, like Romney, everyone knows who he is, and his poll numbers are still low. He has no chance at the nomination.
Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain: Going nowhere fast. Of the three, Cain represents the most troublesome match-up with Obama because he has the potential to split the African American vote (at the top of the ticket, if he's VP, the African American community will vote for Obama). No one cares about Gingrich, including Gingrich (based on his lethargic campaign). As for Santorum, well, he tries. But Santorum is an obnoxious troll, and everyone knows he's an obnoxious troll. At this point, I think he's running for President just to knock Dan Savage's website off of its first on Google perch. That's not a bad reason to run for President*, but it won't get you anywhere.
Jon Huntsman: He has no chance whatsoever to win the nomination. None. But, he could affect the outcome of this election, depending on how big his balls/ovaries are.** If he drops out of the race for GOP nomination, and runs as an independent, he's got a shot at making headway, and a chance at winning. I don't know if he does.
Overall, bold prediction - Romney is going to take the nomination. Perry is up big now, but he has too many liabilities going for him right now.
*The best reason to run for President is, of course, to become President and improve the lives of every day Americans. But for those candidates who had no chance whatsoever of winning, Dennis Kuchinich had the best reason to run for President - to get laid. And, as a result of running for President, the Congressman ended up marrying a smoking hot model about twenty years his junior. Seriously, check this out. Well done sir.
**We really need a feminine equivalent of "balls." Steel labia doesn't work because being a ball buster (emasculating presence) is completely different than being ballsy (having audacity). Also, labia, ovaries, etc., are too scientific sounding. Saying a woman has "brass balls" works to some degree, but is somewhat negative towards over women (since it implies that a woman has to be man-like to be audacious). Let's get on this internet!