1. Gov Perry – He remains the most likely GOP nominee. It increasingly looks that a Perry/McDonnell ticket is the most likely. On paper he is the best candidate in the field, and on the trail he has outperformed my expectations so far. That said, it is very early. Things change. Perry needs to win in South Carolina. A win before that may be enough for him to clean house.
2. Romney – This has been a horrible week for Romney. Last time around he came in second in Iowa and second in NH. He needs to win one of those states this year to have any chance. He stands as a credible candidate, something that is questionable Bachmann or Paul. However, I cannot see how primary GOP voters would choose him over Perry. I think his best chance is to develope a detailed economic plan, detailed budget, and campaign on that. If he runs as the canddiate with specific, concrete solutions, he may have a shot to argue he is unique. Otherwise, I can’t see him winning.
3. Bachmann – Sorry, but I just don’t see her getting the nomination. I think the GOP establishment, and many GOP primary voters are looking primarily to beat Obama. Bachmann is simply a much weaker candidate than Perry or Romney, and I don’t see any desire to nominate someone who will not appeal to moderate voters as well as others would. Nor do I see her on anyone’s VP list. She needs to be a governor or senator first. That all said, I may be wrong. She needs to win Iowa to stay in the race.
4. Ron Paul — Again, just like Bachmann I don’t see him as likely to win. That said, he did surprise me with a great showing at the Ames straw poll. However, I don’t see him getting the votes to win. Nor do I see him on a VP list. What I do see is that he has made a huge impact on the country, and can claim credit for much of the tea party movement. I don’t see him dropping out ever.
5. Rick Santorum – He beat all expectations and, unlike Bachman and Paul, actually has a record of getting things done in Congress. That said, I don’t see a path to victory for him. I see him supporting Perry after Iowa.
6. Everyone else – Has no business running.