I personally think that Romney is the likely GOP nominee. In my opinion Romney is a question mark, and a question mark is better than Obama. So, I'd happily support Romney in a race against Obama.
In my opinion, the only person who has a serious chance to beat Romney is Rick Perry. That is not to say that Perry would do a better job than Romney (though Perry does have a better record as governor than Romney did as governor). The facts are:
1. Romney and Perry are the only 2 candidates who have raised any real money. Romney is leading everyone in raising money, but Perry led last quarter and has the capability to compete financially. In the general election raising money will also be key. No Republican can beat Obama without being able to raise money.
2. Only Romney, Perry, and Huntsman served as governors. Perry has the added bonus of having the best record as governor in terms of economic growth, taxes, spending, and frankly just about every issue. He is not perfect, but is the best in the field on this.
3. While Gingrich's poll numbers suggest he is rising and could win, the truth is that the only reason he is rising is because he never took the heat of being in 1st place. If Gingrich ever moves up high enough in the polls to challenge Romney, he will get shot down. The perfect example of this is Perry's initial entry and what is soon to happen to Cain's poll numbers. The bottom line is that Cain's numbers will fall and Gingrich's will if Gingrich gets them too high.
4. Paul is Paul. I have nothing but the highest respect for Paul for running on what he believes. He is a straight shooter and appears to be an honest, smart man. That said, it is unlikely he will get the nomination. He says what he believes, and 10 maybe 20% of the voters may agree with him. Unless he surprises us all by actually winning something, he will likely continue to do as he has done.
5. Gingrich is Gingrich. He has a history. He is very, very smart. He is great at debating. Debating is not what wins general elections. Frankly, it does not even win primaries. Gingrich is now at wife #3, and while speaker of the house sounds like a nice title; he managed to be the only speaker in the history of the House found guilty of ethics violations. Frankly, with all due respect to the speaker, the man has ethics problems and his nomination would be a gift to Obama. Not going to happen; he has no chance.
6. Huntsman remains too liberal in my view to win the GOP nomination.
7. Cain. I've said this for a while. He is not a serious candidate. He apparently has some problems in dealing with females. He likewise has a problem either with his memory or with his honesty. These recent trials for him are not the worst of his flaws. His worst flaw remains that he is completely unprepared for the job. His recent foreign policy comments were likely just gafts. However, were he actually the GOP nominee, he would be a joke. He is simply not a credible candidate and will not win the GOP nomination.
This leaves us with Perry -- despite his flaws -- as the only credible candidate to oppose Romney. Perry does have his own flaws. He -- while to the right of Bush and McCain on boarder security -- is to the left of the average GOP voter on boarder security. Likewise, he is not the best at debate. He has had some gafts. He is not perfect. However, he is the only electable alternative to Romney.
I want to make clear that this is not an endorcement of Perry. Nor an insult to Romney. I think either is better than Obama.