This week we find Jon Huntsman in the race officially. Rick Perry continues to look at getting in the race. And there's a battle shaping up in Iowa.I'll get into it all and how the candidates are stacked up.
The Congresswoman continues to be the leader of the anti-Romney pack right now. She dazzled the crowd in New Orleans and Minneapolis. She is giving strong speeches, but she's also doing something very smart — going silent. The campaign is showing serious discipline that was not there just a few months ago.This minimizes the "gaffe police" being able to embarrass the campaign, or try to, and it increases demand for the candidate. There is so much buzz about Michele Bachmann right now that the less she supplies in terms of appearances, the more demand there is for her. It's a valuable commodity at this point and I suspect she's going to be able to turn it into some serious fundraising.Bachmann's rise hurts Pawlenty and Cain in serious ways.
Cain has rebounded nicely from last week's debate. There is still huge interest in his campaign and his ability to wow and dazzle a crowd outpaces even Michele Bachmann. The downside for Cain is still policy. His campaign gets tired of people, including me, saying it, but the contrast between a Bachmann speech and a Cain speech is that Cain leaves the crowd with great one liners. Bachmann leaves the crowd with some powerful facts and figures.The Bachmann campaign is throwing a wrench in Cain's outsider, tea party fueled surge and he's going to have to figure out a way to overcome it moving forward.
Just when you thought all the wheels had come off the Gingrich campaign, more fell off. Newt is not, at this point, a viable candidate.
The Rudy buzz is gone, replaced by a Perry buzz. I don't see him getting in now.
His speech played well in the media, but the hits are going to keep coming. If conservatives do not soon rally around a candidate, Huntsman is going to be able to exploit it to his benefit. In New Hampshire, he is going to give Mitt Romney a run for his money.If conservatives rally soon around a Pawlenty, Perry, Bachmann, Cain or other, Huntsman will have to fight Romney for the centrist wing of the party. That hurts Huntsman. Otherwise, Huntsman could play the field and we shouldn't count him out. One thing to keep in mind though, according to the latest Gallup survey, the more Republicans find out about Huntsman, the less positive their views of him are. That's not a good sign for him long term. He'll have to rely heavily on independent voters and run the table with them.
This will probably be his last appearance in this list. No traction. No chance. Not worth the time and energy to write about him.
Ron Paul will not be the nominee, but his ability to excite a base of youthful voters is something that continues to impress a lot of people who should know better.
Pawlenty's campaign feels stagnant to me. That's not a bad thing. He went down after the New Hampshire debate and is at least holding steady now. He's got to start boosting his name identification, which I think is one reason he is up early with commercials in Iowa.It's a smart move on his part to go on now and start the acceleration of name ID. But then that is money he can't get back. My guess is his fundraising is less than what they want, and there is a feedback loop of both low name recognition playing into low financing playing into low name recognition.His stump speeches have gotten better and I still think without Perry in the race, he'll ultimately become the anti-Romney crowds rally around. But the longer there is buzz about another candidate getting in, the longer it will take for that to happen.
He's not in yet, but he's already making waves. I have no inside knowledge as to whether he'll ultimately decide to get in, but the odds are looking good. It also looks like Perry won't be in a position to announce anything until after the Texas legislature's special session wraps up.
Romney continues to be the front runner, but part of me wonders if his play it safe strategy is ultimately going to hurt him. Right now, Romney is coasting with a third of the GOP electorate willing to support him. But that leaves two-thirds at play and I wonder if he's reached his ceiling. Some of his recent moves on global warming, Romneycare, etc. will continue to plague him along the way. But right now, it remains his race to lose and his willingness to go on and sound like he is in the general election with Obama ultimately helps him hone his message and keep up the air of inevitability.
With Michele Bachmann's surge, the rational for a Santorum campaign diminishes daily and I don't expect him to have either stellar fundraising numbers come out or the ability to sustain himself through the end of the year.