Saturday, August 13, 2011

Election 2012: GOP Handicapping Update

Yeah, it's been awhile since I did one of these, but the Iowa straw poll results are too interesting not to do an update.

Random thoughts:

- I always expect Ron Paul to do well in events like this, where supporter enthusiasm and intense grassroots focus can make a big difference. I didn't expect him to come within 152 votes of winning it. In 2007, he came in a distant 5th place. This time he came in a close second -- and got more votes than the winner (Mitt Romney) did in 2007. I'm not a Paul supporter, but it's certainly an interesting datum.

- I'm well aware of the danger of writing a candidate off this early. Remember, I predicted John McCain as the 2008 GOP nominee in late May/early June of 2007, when everyone else was taking bets on when he'd shut down his campaign and bow out.

That said, I think Romney's done. He's not in the same position as McCain was in mid-2007 -- apparently on his last legs. He's been the presumptive front-runner for months now ... and the old "I'm not going to actively campaign for the Ames vote" gambit just doesn't cover 7th place, 3.4%, 9/10ths of a percent behind write-in candidate Rick Perry, behind Herman Cain, behind Rick Santorum, behind Tim Pawlenty.

A day or so ago -- before the poll began, anyway -- I commented over at Eric "Master Shake" Dondero's site that if this was a keno slip, the four names I'd pick to end up on the 2008 GOP ticket were Bachmann, Perry, Romney and Cain, with Cain the only one not having a real shot at the top slot but a good shot at veep.

Now I'm down to three spots. Romney isn't going to be the presidential nominee, nor is he likely to want to be vice-president, nor is he the kind of candidate you pick for vice-president anyway. He isn't needed to carry Utah, nor can he be expected to roll New England into the Republican camp. Cain, on the other hand, would bring business acumen to the ticket, is from the all-important south, and yes, might put the black vote in play.

Things can always change, but for now at least I'm calling it a Bachmann-Perry contest for the nomination. And no, I'm just not seeing either one of them beating Obama. But like I said, things can always change.

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