Skip to comments.Hotline's Presidential Power Rankings (Gov. Sarah Palin on the rise!)
Posted on 03/24/2011 12:19:12 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
Third Edition: Pawlenty's In, Thune's Out, And The 'Invisible Primary' Is Slowly Drawing To A Close.
After months of masking their intentions while nimbly navigating the invisible primary, White House candidates are beginning to show their hands. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty became the first top-tier candidate to formally announce an exploratory committee this month, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is close to doing the same - moves that will likely trigger a run of announcements from other contenders in the coming weeks.
With the Iowa caucuses tentatively slated for February 6, 2012, candidates have roughly 10 months left to sell themselves as the most appealing option to the Republican primary electorate. Who is currently best positioned to do so?
We rank the top 15 GOP contenders using four criteria:
Money: How much do they have? How much can they raise? Campaign infrastructure: Do they have the ability to assemble a competitive and competent staff, both at the national and state levels?
Strengths: What issue(s) can the candidate truly hang their hat on? Is there a specific area of expertise they can sell to voters? Do they have a strong track record on one particular issue?
Weaknesses: Every candidate has one -- heck, most candidates have plenty -- and the reality is that eventually they will have to address them. This will be easier for some contenders than others: Explaining away one vote for bad legislation is far easier than justifying a major moral lapse or some fatally flawed executive decision. At the end of the day, some candidates will have weaknesses, and others will have albatrosses. Its the latter group who should be worried.
Who's trending since our first edition and second edition of PPR:
RISING: Haley Barbour, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Rudy Giuliani, Ron Paul, Herman Cain
FALLING: Mike Huckabee, Jim DeMint
ARRIVALS: Donald Trump
DEPARTURES: John Thune
1. MITT ROMNEY (previous rank: 1) Romney's campaign-in-waiting has started picking up the pace. He's visiting key early states and recruiting staffers who will serve in key roles. But health care hangs over his head like the sword of Damocles, ready to fall at any moment. Romney's initial defense of CommonwealthCare won over a few skeptics, but the vast majority of Republicans aren't going to be thrilled when they hear his rivals compare his Massachusetts version of health care with President Obama's. And Obama is gleefully trumpeting those comparisons, much to Romney's dispair.
2. TIM PAWLENTY (previous rank: 2) Pawlenty looks increasingly likely to step into the front-runner's void if Romney fizzles and no other candidate sets the world on fire. South Dakota Sen. John Thunes decision not to run creates more room for a Midwestern conservative with few glaring vulnerabilities. Pawlenty has already snagged some top staffers, including Eric Woolson, the architect of Mike Huckabees 2008 caucus victory, to run his Iowa operation. He recently became the first serious candidate to launch an exploratory committee, which will help raise his profile beyond Minnesota.
3. HALEY BARBOUR (previous rank: 6) No candidate's reputation has preceeded him with the chattering classes more than Barbour's. He has met the attending expectations in some cases, especially as he begins to form a top-notch staff. But in others, Barbour has fallen short, stumbling where his reputation for political preeminence should have bolstered him. The terrible two-month stretch of damaging headlines hes endured will make his path to victory more difficult. But if his reputation is deserved -- and it is -- Barbour will be able to recover.
4. NEWT GINGRICH (previous rank: 7) There is no bigger ideas factory in the Republican Party than Newt Gingrich's brain. However, many of those ideas aren't realistic or feasible, and Gingrich's inflammatory rhetoric has gotten the best of him in the past. In addition, his disorganized launch wont inspire much confidence about his ability to put together a structured campaign. But if there's one cautionary note everyone involved in the race is sounding these days, it's that Gingrich is not to be underestimated. Perhaps no other serious contender can dominate a debate like Gingrich, and that will keep him in good stead through the long months until the Iowa caucuses.
5. MITCH DANIELS (previous rank: 5) On paper, Daniels is a very intriguing candidate. He'd be a formidable contender -- if, that is, he actually showed signs he was interested in running. But despite conservative buzz over balancing the budget and reforming public services in Indiana, Daniels hasnt taken any steps to prepare for a presidential campaign. To the contrary, hes been gratuitously alienating key parts of the GOP base -- from calling for a social truce, tweaking Rush Limbaugh, and even (initially) defending liberal protesters at the state House. Once he signals any serious interest in running, he'll move up in the rankings.
6. MIKE HUCKABEE (previous rank: 3) Huckabee seems much more content promoting his new book rather than spending time on the campaign trail being subjected to presidential-level scrutiny. If he runs, hed have a logical path to the nomination through Iowa and South Carolina, and a populist message that could resonate in working-class parts of the country. But with a new millionaires mansion in Florida and making good money as a host on Fox News, it seems less likely by the day that hell pursue a bid.
7. SARAH PALIN (previous rank: 8) The basic formula for compiling these rankings is to take a candidate's likelihood of winning and divide by the likelihood that he or she will run in the first place. We're very skeptical that Palin will run, but her chances of securing the GOP nomination if she does are high. How can that be, given her falling approval ratings among Republicans? Consider Rep. Ben Quayle, who faced allegations during his primary campaign in Arizona that he posted messages on a raunchy local website. Quayle became the focus of the race, big-footing other candidates and splintering the opposition. Palin has the unique ability to do the same.
8. MICHELE BACHMANN (previous rank: 12) If Palin doesnt run, Bachmann could fill the role of a provocative social conservative who excites the base. Shes looking more like a presidential candidate lately, making stops in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. But her recent Lexington and Concord gaffe in New Hampshire underscores her biggest flaw: A serious lack of gravitas.
9. JON HUNTSMAN (previous rank: 9) Given his position as an ambassador, Huntsman can't even answer questions about whether he'd like to run until the end of next month. But he's making all the moves, and he has a team in place if and when he decides to make the formal leap. The question is whether he can overcome his reputation as a pragmatic candidate (in the minds of a Republican primary voter, pragmatic can mean moderate). President Obama won't make it any easier for Huntsman; he is already joking about touting Huntsman's work for the administration. Every joke, it is said, has a kernel of truth wrapped within.
10. RICK SANTORUM (previous rank: 10) Santorum has been spending significant time in Iowa, hoping to win over conservative culture warriors. But like Gingrich, his time in the political spotlight was nearly a decade ago and hes having trouble picking up buzz despite his aggressive early efforts. Hes been raising his foreign-policy profile lately with tough criticism over Obamas handling of the Libya crisis, but more than a few Iowa activists know what happened to him the last time he was on a general-election ballot.
11. RUDY GIULIANI (previous rank: 15) Americas Mayor is acting like a candidate lately, but the question remains: If Giuliani couldn't translate his huge popularity in 2008 to anything more than a single delegate, what makes him think he can do anything different this time around? He hinted at the answer recently during an appearance in New Hampshire a state he abandoned in 2008 but promised to barnstorm in 2012 if he runs again. Giuliani is critiquing his rivals like a serious candidate would, but we're waiting for signs that he's getting the gang back together before we buy his candidacy.
12. RON PAUL (previous rank: 13) Paul is guaranteed to have a following wherever he goes, and his foreign-policy isolationism may get a renewed hearing now that Obama has involved the U.S. in another war in the Arab world. Between that and fresh anxiety over government spending, Paul's message should resonate with elements of the base louder than ever before. But even with the big crowds he attracted in 2008, he wasn't a huge factor come Election Day.
13. HERMAN CAIN (previous rank: 14) Cain's biggest contributions to the campaign may be to provide an eloquent presence in debates and to raise some uncomfortable questions about race (he's tiptoed up to the line on race a few times already). But then, Huckabee was supposed to bring little more than a good voice to debates in 2008, and he ended up winning the Iowa caucuses.
14. DONALD TRUMP (new to rankings) We still think Trump is milking the presidential speculation for publicity, but hes been taking steps beyond the trash talk that suggests hes serious, including June visits to Iowa and New Hampshire (post-Apprentice finale) and recently dispatching an aide to Iowa to meet with several of the states powerbrokers. Until he actually shakes the hand of a Hawkeye State voter, however, we'll remain extremely skeptical.
15. JIM DEMINT (previous rank: 11) Consider our calculation: DeMint's chances of getting into the race are very low. But if, say, Palin and Bachmann take a pass on running, he might not see any ideological kindred spirit in the race. If he decides that's a deal-breaker, DeMint might just reconsider. And if he does decide to get in, he'd have a following. DeMint is heading to Iowa on Saturday, and, to quote our friend Chris Cillizza, no politician goes to Iowa by accident.
ON THE BUBBLE: Bobby Jindal, Gary Johnson, George Pataki, Rick Perry, Buddy Roemer
Haley Barbour and Newt Gingrich both showed stronger rises in this pol that did Palin.
I have no idea who will be campaigning for the nomination, but once they are all in, I will be settling on the most conservative electable candidate. I hope that person is Sarah Palin but at this point if this were the field, she simply would not be.
"Go Mitt. Go Mitt. Go Mitt.
I disagree with the NJ's rankings, and don't know where they gets his information that Palin won't run. However, I do agree that she will become the focus of the media in the primary race, and will "big foot" the other candidates out of the race. I also agree with the Journal's staff that she will likely win the GOP nomination if she runs.
And BTW, in before the PDSers. I am going to try and be nicer this time.
Those pictures of Myth laughing it up over Romneycare haunt me every time. This guy is just like Obama: a thoroughgoing statist.
Haley Barbour is my size. Do you really see the voters wanting a Deep South, Foghorn Leghorn sounding lobbyist to replace the first black president in 2012? Newt Gingrich? A serial philanderer is a non-starter with most Republican voters.
To everyone's surprise, he collapsed onto his desk, head in his hands, visibly shaken, almost in tears.
Finally, he composed himself and asked, "Just how many is a brazilian?"
(FL voice) "I say, I say, BOY! What kind of ferin' policy ya tryin' ta run heah? The chicken hawks have pecked away at yer brain, boy!"
Umm, yeah, I can't see that workin'.
During January 17, 1993 pre-Inaugural tour of Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home, shown live by C-SPAN, Al Gore asks of busts of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Marquis de Lafayette: “Who are these people?” Also along on the tour: wife Tipper as well as Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Ya talk so much yo tongues gonna get sunburned. I’m over here, boy! Pay ‘tention!
They know that if she runs, they're just wasting their time and money. So they're waiting to see if she's in before they pull the trigger. It is fairly well known among the GOP pollsters (who have actual poll results, not results from polls "weighted" for the "larger number of Democrats than Republicans."
The accurate polls are weighted for the fact that GOP and Independent voters outweigh the Donkeys this time around by more than 2-to-1. Use those numbers when polling, and you see Palin right about mid-way between the polls form ABC/Gallup/Reuters/etc., and the 86% she drew here in the FreeRepublic poll.
Best estiamte, Sarah's at roughly 58% right now without yet having announced. Which is why nobody wants to be first in the GOP Pool. First one in is an absolute imbecile.
The National Journal (which is now under the direction of the far left HuffPo) ranks GOP favorites. LOL!
The big secret is that everyone else is running for vice president.
Yep, Barbour's going to be a disaster.
And Mitt Romney didn’t rise at all!!!
Since there are no percentages given I will assume the rankings are actually extremely close and that no candidate has a clear statistical lead. Palin is the one to beat since she is getting more publicity than the rest. And the field is made up of has-beens, never-wills and those with no chance. Mitt, Newt, are in the first; Huck, Trump and Santorum in the second, Rudi, Huntsman and Ron the third.
There are no more than four or five serious candidates: Sarah, Haley, Pawlenty, and maybe Bachman and Daniels. And Sarah has the most charisma. I wish she didn’t sound so whiny though.
Palin is looking good for this stage of the game. She’s really scaring off the competition.
“I wish she didnt sound so whiny though.”
Not a problem. Obama is way more whiny than she is. LOL
“Hey, Blitzgig would make a good name for a rock band.”
Ha ha, thanks Gargantua. And personally, I can see “Gargantua” as a nifty name for a powerful superhero or a supervillainess. :-)
Almost everyone was in 4 years ago by this time on both sides.
Just look at some of their current and former “non partisan” employees.
Chucky Todd and Ron BrownSTAIN just to name a couple. Then the young lady with the short dark hair..Amy Something or other, total lefty. The outfit is a joke IMHO
I love Palin with all my heart, and want her to be president...but I agree, she’s got a voice problem. It’s been getting better lately...
However, I truly don’t care how she sounds...I want her to take ACTION and DO — not get up and talk through a teleprompter and make speeches on TV.
She can talk like nails on a chalkboard, as long as she gets this country turned around.
I don’t know what the voters are going to want, but I do know that headlining Sarahs one spot jump in this poll when others that are ahead of her in it, have moved up more spots smacks of a mix of homerism and desperation.
Actually, Urkel’s voice is the only acceptable part of him. He has a deep voice whereas Sarah’s is kind of shrill.
I, for one am getting sick of hearing about this. Newt's marital choices are no worse than John McCain's, the last Republican candidate. I heard absolutely NO grumbling from anyone about McCain's choice to divorce his injured, disabled wife for HIS new hottie, Cindy.
Two wrongs make a right?
Seems like different standards for different candidates. Many on FR cite this as a disqualifier for Newt, but no one ever mentioned McCain. Ronald Reagan was divorced once.
Did President Reagan cheat on his wife? It’s not about the divorce.
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