Friday, August 12, 2011

Election 2012 Preview: Handicapping the Primaries, Part II

Now that football season is underway, it's just about time for the Presidential primary season to being in earnest. Just about everyone who's going to participate in next year's Republican primary has declared their candidacy. And, of course, we already know who the Democratic nominee will be. (You get three guesses. The first two don't count.) With all that said, we're going to dust off our crystal ball, and do some more prognosticating. (All figures from, current as of Friday night.)

(Prognostication is something I probably shouldn't do. My record is somewhat less than stellar. I'm on record predicting Donovan McNabb to give the Eagles good reason to regret trading him to the Redskins, after all, and we all know how that turned out. Anyway...)

Democratic Party

I'm only doing this for completeness' sake. It's all over bar the shouting. As I said before, in the modern era, sitting Presidents just don't get turfed for re-nomination. And also in the modern era, they just don't go for a re-do on their running mates, either. So, I'm not even going to bother looking up the numbers. It's Obama/Biden for Team Blue in 2012, unless one or both of them get run over by a bus or something. (Which ain't gonna happen.)

Republican Party

And the Republican race is about to get fun. In the list to follow, one person wasn't even on it back in March, and ... well, let's just get to it.

Rick Perry, 32% -- And, surging out of nowhere, the Governor of Texas is in the lead, at least according to Vegas. He should officially declare his candidacy tomorrow in South Carolina. This is a development that should surprise no one. He spent a good bit of time last year denying he'd seek the Presidency. But it takes an extraordinarily humble man to resist that clarion call, and successful politicians are very seldom humble. He'd already become the longest-serving Governor in Texas' history. What else was there for him to do, but to go for the brass ring? And in a very real sense, his presence sucks all the oxygen out of the tent for everyone else. With his executive experience, his popularity with the Tea Party, and his skill in political skullduggery, he steals damn near everyone's trump cards. The man's got a clear path to the nomination, provided he doesn't do anything utterly stupid.

Mitt Romney, 29% -- Romney still clings stubbornly to second place. As well he should: he's been laying the groundwork for 2012 ever since the dust settled from 2008. But nothing important has changed. The big millstone around his neck is still the fact that ObamaCare is RomneyCare with the serial numbers filed off. He's going to have to find a way to run away from that without looking ridiculous. This feat is probably beyond him. He'll do all right in the Northeast. But once the race swings into the South and West ... well, let's just say Perry's got him bore-sighted.

Sarah Palin, 7% -- Yes, no one else is even out of single digits. Frankly, Palin has waited too long to get into the race. Michele Bachmann has already garnered much of her Tea Party base, and Rick Perry has already stolen most of that thunder. There might be room for two Tea Party candidates in the primary. No way is there room for three. Thanks for playing, Ms. Palin, your consolation prize is a Fox News gig.

Ron Paul, 6% -- Ron Paul will hang on until the bloody, bitter end. He hasn't a ghost of a chance of winning the nomination, but as long as he gets a bully pulpit, he'll use it to air his ideas. He's quite mad, of course, but I respect his persistence.

Michele Bachmann, 5% -- Given that Bachmann will probably win Iowa, I'm surprised to find her this low on the list. I'm going to kick myself for not buying a handful of Bachmann shares now, and unloading them right after the Iowa caucuses. I could turn a tidy profit. Still, she won't last. She's got Iowa, Romney's got New Hampshire, but after the race heads South, it's all Perry all day. (Seriously, I don't see how that dude loses, unless he shoots himself in the foot.)

Tim Pawlenty, 5% -- And sinking like a stone. I don't see how he recovers from the evisceration he got in last night's GOP debate. Stone barking mad Bachmann may be, but she was all over Pawlenty like a cheap suit. This just ain't Tim's year.

Others -- Not much to say. Newt's toast, but we knew that, even if no one's actually told him yet. He's still got a 1% share, for some inexplicable reason. Other than that, I see a whole bunch of names with zeroes by them. To a first approximation, this is probably going to be a three-way race initially: Perry, Romney, and Bachmann. Then, there'll be a down-select to Perry and Romney, and I expect Perry to win the nomination. They're laying down a 32% chance that the VP nominee will be Marco Rubio, but that's no more than a wild guess. As we all know, the VP pick comes down to who wins the nomination, and what sort of VP they want. We don't have enough information to go on yet to make a reasonable prediction.

And The Winner Is...

Currently, the betting line is 51%-47% in favor of the Democratic candidate, if you go by party. On the individuals list, Barack Obama leads with 49%, the nearest competitor being Rick Perry at 17%. It's going to be a tougher sell next year unless the economy improves, but if the Republicans go full-bore extremist, that might scare enough independents back into Obama's column. It'll be an interesting election season next summer and fall. But, I still think it favors the incumbent. Obama/Biden for the win is still worth a buck or two.

Remember, kids, vote early, and vote often!

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