So none of this is based on deep scientific polling or anything of that nature. Just twenty years experience in retail politics.
I start with the assumption that Barak Obama is fairly beatable at this point in time.
The economy sucks.
Obama is trying to raise taxes while the economy sucks.
And in the meantime, he's started a third war that we have no business fighting which should push down the left's willingness to come out and fight (at least on the Coasts).
His "deserves re-election" and "country is headed in the right direction" numbers are horrific.
This leads to this:
Any Republican who doesn't come across as "scary" or "stupid" has a good chance to win this thing (60%).
I prefer Daniels or Pawlenty (i.e if got to pick the next president and couldn't pick me)
1) Estimate the chances of a certain candidate to win the GOP primary
2) Estimate the chances of that person to win the general against Obama
3) Do the multiplication to get each individual Republican's chances of winning
4) Do the subtraction and addition to compute a Democratic president vs Republican president
GOP PRIMARY -- Chances to win
Pawlenty, Romney -- 15% (best organizations)
Palin, Barbour, Bachman, Huckabee, -- 10% (have a base to start with)
Daniels, Huntsman, Gingrich, Cain, Trump, Guiliani -- 5%
Yep ... that's how I see the GOP race ... I think we probably end up with Pawlenty or Romney, but they aren't as far ahead as we might think.
CHANCES IN THE GENERAL:
Romney vs Obama -- 55% (would be 60% if not for RomneyCare)
Pawlenty vs Obama -- 60% (the anti-obama)
Palin vs Obama -- 40% (I know a lot of conservatives who won't vote for her)
Barbour vs Obama -- 55% (loses 5% for the accent and what it represents)
Bachman vs Obama -- 45% (house member, lots of brash stuff out there to paint her as crazy)
Huckabee vs Obama -- 70% (would be a disaster for the country, but he would win handily)
Daniels vs Obama -- 65% (a bit of my bias, but I think the country is ready for an adult conversation, I dinged him in the primary for his "social truce")
Huntsman vs Obama -- 55% (loses 5% for involvement in Obama cabinet)
Gingrich vs Obama -- 40% (still are a lot of people with a negative opinion about Newt plus the soc-cons aren't exactly going to rally to his side (wifes 1 to 3) ... total squish on global warming as well)
Cain vs Obama -- 50% (the lack of political experience will hurt him more than his executive experience will help him)
Trump vs Obama -- 45% (we'll never elect an actor ... oh wait)
Guiliani vs Obama -- 60% (I think Da Mayor will play well against Obama)
REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT LIKELIHOOD -- 54%
DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENT LIKELIHOOD -- 46%
Obama 46% (but the only DEM)
Have at it!