The Horserace for July 28, 2011

IA Caucus: Feb. 6, 2012
NH Primary: Feb. 14, 2012 (expected)
SC Primary: TBD
NV Caucus: Feb. 18, 2012

In this week’s horserace, Michele Bachmann has stabilized and the attacks against her have actually helped her. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, finally decided to come out of the candidate protection program and be seen to endorse John Boehner’s plan. His support was not as full throated as Jon Huntsman’s, but was more visible and also more damaging to a lot of outside conservative groups opposed to the plan.

Pawlenty and Bachmann opposed it.

Herman Cain seems intent on being a serious candidate and it looks like he’s going to get his second chance. Can he rebound and will Perry and Palin get in? We’ll get into it all in the horserace the horserace this week.

But first, I have struck Rick Santorum from the list of Presidential candidates, adding him to Gary Johnson on the “former” list.

Michele Bachmann

Bachmann is holding steady this week. The one major strategic goof I think she made is that she did not get out there aggressively on the debt ceiling nationally. She had a chance to do it and didn’t take advantage. It is probably a wise move for a Presidential candidate to not get in the weeds on an issue like this, but Bachmann is also a House member and will vote.

Given her signing the CCB pledge only to vote against the law, she could have come out forcefully against Boehner’s plan and did not. It will not, however, damage her.

The one thing that had damaged her and put her in a bit of damage control was the staff leaks against her campaign. But as I predicted, a lot of the attacks have been so over the top or silly that they are actually helping Bachmann with the grassroots. I’ve long maintained that if the media tries to do to Bachmann what they did to Palin, Bachmann gets helped. So far, it is panning out.

But, the attacks are going to keep coming fast and furious and I think the press attacks and candidate pile ons could throw her off her game.

Herman Cain

As the pile on of Bachmann begins and Rick Perry begins to rise, Herman Cain has a small window to find a path to victory.

Apologizing for the muslim comments and doing an interview with Kathleen Parker are serious signs Cain is still serious about making a real go of a Presidential race. He will have only a small opportunity as people begin to doubt Bachmann and start looking around to woo those people before they go to Perry.

I think it is probably time for Cain to spend some real capital on a good, even web, ad campaign to get some serious grassroots attention as the economic fixer. If he can do that, he stays in the game. If he doesn’t, he’ll not be able to capture a path to victory and be out of the game permanently.

Newt Gingrich

Unless something changes, this will be the last week Newt Gingrich is on this list as a contender. His campaign continues to get no traction.

Rudy Giuliani

There are signs of life in a possible Giuliani campaign, but not much. I still don’t think he will run, but should he it will hurt Mitt Romney. In fact, were Rudy to get in, he’d never say it, but I think it’d be to get Romney out.

Jon Huntsman

The Huntsman campaign continues to survive and get media attention. He came out most forcefully for John Boehner’s plan — a fact he will come to regret. He can self-fund his way to New Hampshire, so we can’t count him out. But I still see no path to victory for him right now.

Thaddeus McCotter

McCotter is too new in the race to be struck from the list this week, but I’m sorely tempted to. Maybe next week. He has no path to victory.

Sarah Palin

Palin will be heading a big even in Iowa for the tea party movement on September 3rd. There are no outward signs that she’ll use it to launch a Presidential campaign. If Perry gets in before then, I really don’t think she will run. But, several people have pointed out that the date of her speech is the 3rd anniversary of her speech in 2008 at the RNC.

Ron Paul

Ron Paul will not be the nominee.

Tim Pawlenty

It is increasingly likely that Tim Pawlenty’s days are numbered. He took the right approach — slow and steady while the other candidates flame out. But he never caught on and Michele Bachmann’s rise was as unpredictable as her fall might be. Pawlenty is about to seriously get overshadowed by Rick Perry.

Rick Perry

Once Perry makes it official, he will be the front runner of the anti-Romney coalition. Gallup, CNN, and Fox, among others, all show what the rest of us see. When Perry gets in — I think it is no longer a matter of “if” but “when” — he starts pulling votes from everybody, including Romney. Bachmann, Pawlenty, and Cain fade. Gingrich is finished off.

About the only guy not hurt is Jon Huntsman, but that is more a testament to how outside the GOP Huntsman intends to run his campaign and also why Huntsman can’t win.

Perry will be piled on immediately on all sides from the HPV vaccine issue to his gay marriage comments, which actually help him with libertarian oriented voters and ultimately won’t hurt him with evangelicals, to the projected $7 billion deficit in Texas for next year. He’s not going to get a free ride, but he will rocket to the top quickly.

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney remains the front runner, but barely. Once Rick Perry gets in, I think it quickly descends into a two man race. Here’s why.

There is a psychological factor that is extremely valuable to a front runner. When people perceive someone will win, undecided will break his way because people like to support a winner. For the longest time, even people who supported someone else thought Romney would be the nominee.

In a normal year, he could sit back, coast into victory, and stay above the fray. But this is not a normal year. And Romney miscalculated to play it like a normal year.

Now the people who think Romney will win is falling, the intrade market value for Romney is now below Rick Perry, and the newest polls show a Perry candidacy rocks Mitt Romney’s world.

This isn’t to say Romney won’t win. The odds are still in his favor. But he’s spent his time playing it safe, reassuring the establishment, and meanwhile the base has gotten mad as hell at the establishment. They aren’t going to want to go for a guy like Romney. He’s going to have to work on his tea party credibility to maintain his lead.