I want to wrap up this first series on the 2012 Presidential contenders, so that I can get on with making my final predictions for the mid-terms and writing about the subsequent fallout.
Here's the current gallup poll on preferences for the Republican nomination in 2012:
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney: 19%
Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin: 16%
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee: 12%
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich: 9%
Texas Congressman Ron Paul: 7%
Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty: 3%
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour: 3%
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels: 2%
Indiana Congressman Mike Pence: 1%
Since I don't think Sarah Palin will run, I'm guessing that one of these men will be the Republican nominee. Here are the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate.
PRO: Romney finished second in the 2008 primaries. This means that he already has a nationwide network of supporters set up if he wants to run again. Also, the Republican nomination has traditionally gone to whichever candidate seems to be "next in line." For example, Ford got the nomination in 1976 by narrowly defeating Reagan who got the nomination in 1980 by narrowly defeating Bush who got the nomination in 1988 etc. Romney looks great on tv.
CON: Being the former one-term Governor of "Taxachusetts" does not resonate with a lot of today's Republican faithful. He holds a number of moderate positions on the issues that are an anathema to the dogmatic Tea Party of today. Also, Christian conservatives are cool on Mormons.
PRO: Huckabee is the only candidate who has already run for President and who identifies strongly with the white, southern, evangelical Christians who most despise President Obama.
CON: Huckabee is old news. He really did surprisingly badly in his 2008 run for the nomination. He's also developed a taste for making controversial comments that seem "un-Presidential," and he has some skeletons in his closet from his days as Governor of Arkansas.
PRO: He is considered to be some kind of intellectual leading light by many on the right. God knows why. He has a knack for giving fiery speeches.
CON: Where to begin? His rock-bottom popularity among the general public? That fact that he was driven out of Congress in 1998 by fellow Republicans? His three marriages? His many, many scandals?
PRO: Paul is beloved by millions of libertarians and tea-baggers.
CON: Paul will be 77 in 2012; that's too old for comfort. He is also despised by party big-wigs who aren't too pleased by Paul's stunts like holding a "rival" convention for himself while the Republican convention was going on in 2008.
PRO: Pawlenty is intelligent. He is scandal-free.
CON: Pawlenty is very boring. Conservatives consider Minnesota to be the "land of 10,000 taxes." He has zero identity with the Christian right.
PRO: Barbour is a very smart fellow who has brought many good jobs to the impoverished state of Mississippi.
CON: Americans expect their presidential candidates to look good on tv. Barbour has what we call "a face made for radio."
PRO: A quiet but effective executive leader.
CON: Did I mention that Daniels is quiet? Few people know who he is. Also, he has a comb-over that Newsweek has described as "borderline delusional."
PRO: Well, let's look at the Republican check list. Is he a gray-haired, white male over 50? Yes. Is he of northern European descent and Protestant religion? Yes. Does he live 1,000 miles from an ocean? Yes. Ok, he's qualified to be the nominee.
CON: Mike who?
Good luck, gentlemen (but not too good).