Ranking The 2008 Candidates By Electability

Here’s a breakdown on the electability of the top tier GOP candidates in 2008. Keep in mind that a list like this is, by its very nature, is arbitrary and debatable. Moreover, I’m going to assume that Hillary will be the nominee these candidates would run against which is the most likely bet, but certainly not a sure thing.

5) Mitt Romney: He’s a slick, shifty candidate who isn’t trusted by conservatives and polls poorly outside of the early primary states where he’s outspending his rivals. The fact that he’s a member of what many Americans consider to be a cult is a minus as well and will become a bigger issue after the mainstream media spends an entire year dragging the Mormon religion through the mud. He would probably lose 3-4 Southern states to Hillary Clinton without drawing in any new states in the North. In summary, it would be surprising if he could run a competitive race against Hillary and shocking if he could beat her.

4) Rudy Giuliani: Rudy has ties to sleazy characters like Bernard Kerkik and a private life that’s so troubling it should disqualify him from being considered as a candidate for public office (which, in all fairness, should be said about Hillary Clinton, among others, as well). Add to that the fact that he is not a conservative and offers very little of value to social conservatives — and you have to think that millions of Republican voters will simply stay home in 2008 rather than support Rudy.

Then there’s Giuliani’s record in New York, which will be attacked incessantly and successfully, by the mainstream media. For example, Rudy is richly despised by New York firefighters including many of the ones that were on the scene during 9/11. Are you looking forward to a solid year of commercials from New York firefighters claiming that Rudy is the goat of 9/11, not the hero, because he got their buddies killed and disrespected the people who risked their lives afterwards? True or not true, that’s what they will be saying and it will take some of the shine off of Rudy’s magnificent performance after 9/11.

Also, despite all the talk about Rudy turning all sorts of key blue states red, there is precious little evidence of that in the polling data. What that means is that having Rudy as the candidate might mean we lose New York or Massachusetts by 7 or 8 points instead of 15, but it probably won’t lead to any big changes in the electoral math.

Rudy does have charisma, is currently well liked by the American people, and is pugnacious enough to stand up against Hillary, so he does have a puncher’s chance, but it doesn’t seem likely that he could beat her unless her campaign implodes.

3) John McCain: McCain is not well liked amongst grassroots conservatives, which is part of the reason his fund raising numbers have been so poor, and much of his popularity is based on getting favorable press for attacking other Republicans. If McCain were to become the nominee, his great press would quickly dry up and it seems likely his popularity with the public would drop significantly. His age (he would be 72 in 2008) would also be a big negative.

On the other hand, McCain is well known to the American public, well liked, and considered to be an “independent” voice. Moreover, his military background would make him an attractive choice for many Americans who are concerned about foreign policy issues.

This makes McCain sort of a “tweener.” He’d have a significantly better shot of beating Hillary than Rudy or Romney, but probably a significantly worse chance of pulling it off than Fred or Huckabee.

2) Fred Thompson: Thompson has more grassroots support than any other Republican candidate and would be able to mobilize conservatives to vote for him more effectively than any of the other candidates. He would also probably be able to lock in the entire South, which is more than could be said of Rudy or Mitt.

On the downside, Thompson has yet to show that he could put any states in play that weren’t competitive in 2000 or 2004. That means we’d probably have a similar, very close race, in an environment that might not be as friendly to Republicans as the last two elections.

However, I’m of the opinion that if conservatives can turn out the vote and don’t have a significant chunk of our voters drained off by some silly third part effort, we will beat Hillary. Thompson can turn out conservatives and the fact that he’s fiscally responsible and a staunch social conservative will make strong 3rd party challenges less likely.

1) Mike Huckabee: Huckabee has two big factors in his favor that have catapulted him to the top of this list.

A) Typically, governors beat Senators in races for the Presidency and in Huckabee’s case, the very fact that he has been outside of Washington and could run as an outsider would be enormously helpful to him.

B) Huckabee is by far the most charismatic candidate in the race and time and time again, the American people have chosen the candidate that they like the best to be President of the United States. For the last 9 presidential elections, at least, the more likable candidate has won the Presidency. Hillary? She’s not the sort of person you’d want to share a pizza with or take to a ballgame. But, Huckabee? He has as much raw charm as Clinton or Reagan in their primes.

That’s not to say that Huckabee would have it in the bag. He hasn’t proven that he can raise money, he doesn’t have really high name recognition yet, and he doesn’t have a particularly impressive conservative record, but he would make the promises he needs to make to win and he would talk people into believing that he means it.

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