GOP Presidential Power Rankings

So what do we make of the Republican field after the Ames Straw Poll? It’s a good question, but there are a couple of factors that need to play out; including decisions by Sarah Palin and Rudy Giuliani, both of whom could change the face of the race.

I’ve been waiting for Ames to come and go since I anticipated the landscape to change, and it did with Tim Pawlenty’s exit (though I expected Rick Santorum to be out the door first) so I could give some power rankings for the candidates; something I hope to do at least every two weeks from now until the end.

Mitt Romney (even): As far as it goes, Romney is the guy to beat right now. Yes, he is going to have some problems to contend, including continued hits on RomneyCare and frequent position changes. He is, however, the establishment’s candidate. Romney also needs to be careful what he says on the trail, at least limit his points to easily explainable soundbytes. In other words, don’t say “corporations are people,” an accurate statement, but needs explaining to make sense.

Rick Perry (up): I’ve already touched on Perry’s campaign today, so I’ll be brief here. Electability in a general election are a question, but there is little doubt that Perry brings a formidable challenge to Romney’s bid for the presidency.

Michele Bachmann (even): Bachmann won the Ames Straw Poll, but the only candidates she was really beating back were Ron Paul and Tim Pawlenty. Romney came into town for the debate, but has not paid much attention to Iowa. As I noted earlier today, Perry’s entrance into the race has hurt her numbers and will make it difficult for her to seriously contend. But it’s still early and anything can happen.

Ron Paul (down): I know this is going to bother a lot of my friends backing Ron Paul, but the expectations were that he’d win the Ames Straw Poll. Don’t get me wrong, a close 2nd is still a solid finish, but his campaign spent a lot of money in Iowa and he didn’t win. And while a win would have been played down by GOP talking heads, it would have a been a substantial victory.

Newt Gingrich: (up): His campaign is still on life support, but he did well, or well enough, during Thursday’s debate and he didn’t really make enough of a push in Iowa for the results to be omnious for his campaign. But you can still say that his chances ended in mid-May when he knocked Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan and screwed over every Republican that voted for it. Money dried up after that and staffers walked away. Gingrich is still respected by most conservatives, despite a history of backing big government policies, including TARP and Medicare Part D. He’ll still get enough support to justify his presence in the race.

Rick Santorum (up): He built on a decent debate performance on Thursday night by finishing 4th at Ames. But let’s be honest, Santorum really only appeals to social conservatives, one bloc of the party’s base. However, he showed during the debate that he is “hawkish” on foreign policy, but Perry (and Giuliani, if he runs) are going to target those voters as well.

Herman Cain (down): If you’ve been reading this blog for the last nine months, then you know that I’ve never bought into Cain. I also knew that his popularity would dwindle as more well-known conservatives entered the race and there is little doubt that his inexperience on foreign policy and gaffes have also¬†hurt him in his bid. The rumor here in Georgia is Cain is looking at a statewide campaign of some sort in 2014. All state constitutional offices are up that year as will the Senate seat currently held by Saxby Chambliss, a Gang of Six member.

Jon Huntsman (even): Despite serving as Governor of Utah, one of the reddest states in the nation, Huntsman has been a blip on the radar in this race; not even driving the narrative. He serves a purpose, being one of the few high-profile Republicans to support civil unions. However, his service in the Obama Administration as Ambassador to China and his moderate views - not just on social issues, but also economic issues - are not going to sit well with the base (as aside, I have no issues with his stances on social issues, but his economic record is concerning).

Gary Johnson (even): If you had told me before the campaign began that a two-term Governor of a swing state would be left out of primary debates, I wouldn’t have believed it. Unfortunately, that’s what has happened with Gary Johnson. Of course, Ron Paul’s presence in the field is one thing that has kept him from grabbing any signficant support. The other is that it’s been eight years since he held office and didn’t raise a profile outside of the liberty movement since his term ended. It’s too bad since he has a lot to bring to the field.

Thad McCotter (even): This is a late addition because I completely forgot about Thad McCotter in my original write-up, not that it changes anything. Like Johnson, McCotter isn’t being taken seriously and are being left out of debates. That’s unfortunate since they both could contribute to the dialogue.

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