The Horserace for August 4, 2011

IA Caucus: Feb. 6, 2012
NH Primary: Feb. 7, 2012
NV Caucus: Feb. 18, 2012
SC Primary: Feb. 28, 2012

That sound you hear is the Huntsman campaign imploding. Or it could be the Perry campaign launching. Both are happening concurrently. A slew of new polling is out showing a Rick Perry entry is going to shake up the race. Even more so, Sarah Palin is joining the soundbite wars to go after Mitt Romney.This race is as fluid as ever and more and more interesting. The list of candidates is also getting shorter. I no longer see Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, or Thad McCotter as viable, adding each to the list of former candidates.But now we have to take Rick Perry seriously, keep an eye on Sarah Palin, and also glance at Rudy Giuliani. The horserace is getting interesting.

Michele Bachmann

Michele Bachmann continues a strong performance. She got a shout out from Sarah Palin for standing on her principles. So much for the “cat fight” meme the media has been pushing. In fact, Bachmann’s loud condemnation of the plan set her apart from Mitt Romney and made her look like a leader while his seeming opportunism made him look less than a leader. The problem for Bachmann remains Rick Perry. She’s doing great, but there is a media bias against her more pervasive than any sort of liberal bias. It is the historic bias that a member of the House of Representatives has not gone to the White House since the eighteen hundreds. Bachmann is going to have to overcome not just a liberal bias, but also a bias toward history in paving her own way into the White House. She can do it, but she won’t have a lot of outside help along the way. And polling suggests Perry’s entry will rock the boat big.

Herman Cain

Herman Cain has moved beyond the muslim issue, but all the upside does leave one issue outstanding. As long as he was saying that stuff, the media found it worthwhile to focus on him. Now he is just a run of the mill candidate. He is going to have to find more ways to shine.But with the grassroots, Cain continues to shine and that’s why, though some would love to count him out, it is impossible. He has strong ties into the grassroots community and there is a lot of affection. To be sure, Bachmann’s campaign has sucked up most of the energy, but there is an ever closing window of opportunity for Cain to get back some of those grassroots as they shift their glass from Bachmann to Perry. Herman Cain will probably have to spend some capital to make it happen, but it is still possible to put him on a path to victory. It’s just he has a very small window and if he doesn’t get into the top three in Iowa, he not only has no path to the White House, but has no path to the Vice President’s house either. He would, however, still have a path to the Senate challenging Saxby Chambliss in 2014.

Rudy Giuliani

I’ll say what I said last week. 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.Now let me add something else. Even Rudy’s 2008 fundraisers are cold on him running, so I don’t think it will happen and this will probably be his last appearance in the horserace.

Jon Huntsman

I told you people that hiring John Weaver was a sign the Huntsman campaign wasn’t viable. This happened with John McCain too. That Huntsman saw what happened to John McCain in 2000 and 2008 and decided to go the same route raises all sorts of questions about his judgment.The media darling is still loved by the media for embracing both the Boehner plan and the compromise plan — but both put him at odds with the bulk of the GOP base. Huntsman’s strategy has always been to avoid conservative voters and hope to woo moderates and independent crossovers into the primary. I still don’t see there being enough of them to get him over the hump.Jon Huntsman’s days are numbered it would seem, but remember he has a pile of money to buy his way out of trouble. I just think it will be an insurmountable pile of trouble he himself has stacked up. It is all summed up for me, in this bit from the Politico:

Huntsman’s father and wife, Mary Kaye, are worried about the direction of the campaign. “Why isn’t he on any of the talk shows yet?” his wife asked in June. “Why isn’t he on ‘The View?’”

Dude is running in a Republican primary and his wife wants him on The View?!?!?! Game over.

Sarah Palin

I’ll say what I said last week. 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. Let me add that I hear there is a growing sense among people at Fox that Palin is not going to run. Likewise, Palin has now been out praising Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann, while calling Mitt Romney, more or less, an opportunist. I still don’t think she’s running, but I would remain delightfully surprised if she did get in.

Ron Paul

Ron Paul will not be the nominee.

Tim Pawlenty

More and more it seems Pawlenty, who has run a largely flawless campaign, will not be the nominee. I have long thought he would, but his campaign never caught fire. As long as there are people expecting a Perry entry, it will make it even harder for Pawlenty to gain traction. With polling showing a Perry entry pushes Pawlenty further down the list, even in Iowa, I do not know how he will be able to sustain himself.He is a genuine, likable, good guy. But that isn’t translating in the field right now. If he can’t retool and find a way to stand out and stay in people’s minds, it’ll be lights out sooner rather than later.

Rick Perry

According to fundraisers and others, Perry’s entry is all but a done deal. We’re already seeing the opposition research dump coming on strong against Perry. I think he is going to have to play his initial entry well, or the media story will be how he came out and lost his footing early.It is doable, but he needs to remember that everybody, including the Bushies, will be gunning for him. All that said, one Democratic operative recently told me the reason a lot of Washington Democrats who know Perry fear him. They say he has more charisma on the stump than any other politician in America and is the GOP’s version of Bill Clinton. He also has the come from behind, poor roots that Clinton had to present a compelling narrative. Democrats and Republicans both worry about Perry, which means he is going to get the crap beat out of him the moment he declares. We’ll see if he can take a punch and throw one back.

Mitt Romney

The “Mittness” Protection Program meme has taken hold. Even Sarah Palin is dinging Romney for disappearing only to raise his head after sticking his finger in the wind. Polls show he is still the front runner, but his lead slips with a Perry entry. If the anti-Romney faction consolidates behind Bachmann, Pawlenty, or Perry, the Romney campaign will not be able to hold on to first place.Why?Well, not to put too fine a point on it, but one of Romney’s largest advantages has been the psychological factor of the inevitability of him being the nominee. If the others consolidate behind one person, that factor goes out the window and Romney becomes just another candidate, not the heir apparent. At that point, people are going to have to take a hard look at him.What they’ll discover is that a lot of the establishment has embraced him simply because he was the presumed front runner and a lot of the grassroots distrust him because of Romneycare and presumed flip-flopping on issues.Once the other candidates consolidate, Romney is going to have to give people a reason to vote for him for something other than being heir apparent. But don’t count him out. There are plenty of reasons to vote for a guy like Romney with his business experience. More so, Romney has the money the other candidates do not have.He’s still the front runner and even with Perry getting in, Romney is the odds on favorite. Thought it is worth pointing out he is slipping behind Perry in intrade, the online stock market that lets you place bids on who will or will not win. The market is starting to turn against Romney.

Listing of Presidential candidates
I consider “former” candidates

(in order of being dropped)

Gary Johnson
Rick Santorum
Thad McCotter
Newt Gingrich