I have had numerous discussions on this topic for the past several months with my TEA Party and Facebook friends and many others. Nearly every time I get this groan...Not Mitt! One word "Romney-care..game over". I disagree!
I have felt Mitt is the best choice since well back in 2006 when names were just getting tossed around, and I still think he will win in 2012 at least the nomination.
I'm gonna get a little wonky here..but stay with me. CPAC just finished it's Straw poll (record attendance and record number of voters), and for the second year in a row Ron Paul came out on top this year with 30% of the support. (Romney placed second this year and last and first the 3 years prior to that). First off CPAC is very core conservatives/ TEA Party and in the past 2 years infiltrated by lot's of the Ron Paul-ittes. 3700 voters in this years Straw Poll. Ron Paul gets 30%, Romney 23%, Gary Johnson (another Libertarian) ties with Christie, (who is NOT running) get 6% each. Newt garners only 5%, and Sarah Palin comes in at 3%. Huckabee doesn't even place with 1% T. Paw and Daniels 4% each, Herman Cain, (the TEA Party darling) only 2%.
Now we must accept the Ron Paul infiltrators are trying to stack the deck here, but it's artificial. Paul only rec'd about 3-5% of the actual vote in primary's in 2008. So of the attendees Paul got about 1110 votes. Gary Johnson the other Paul-itte got 6% (222 votes).
This leaves about 2400 voters who represent a more traditional Republican/ Conservative voter:
Mitt with 23% of the total (962 votes), actually represents 40% of the adjusted vote, Christie at 6% (222 votes), equals just under 10% of the vote. Newt @ 5% (185) equals 8%, Palin at 3% (111 votes) equals 5% of the adjusted voters. Herman Cain with 74 votes is about 3%.
Now lets look at who is actually likely to run. Romney, Cain, and T. Paw * are in for sure. Ron Paul MAYBE, (but I doubt it)..and I suspect he'll do better than 2008 but 10% at best. Christie is NOT running; Palin is smart enough to not run this time; and Newt will probably waffle until he sells a few more books and then drop out or not ever get in like the past 2 times.
The race becomes Mitt, Cain, T. Paw * and maybe Hayley Barbour who both got 3% of the votes. T. Paw is boring even compared to Mitt, and Barbour has a few things that are lingering out there, and he was a big time Lobbyist for a few years as well. What about Huckabee?? Great question! The Huckster has a pretty good ride going on Fox right now, he didn't even show up at CPAC this year..and didn't receive enough votes to garner even 1%. I think most people see his "aw shucks" thing and realize the folks in IOWA got bamboozled in 2008, where Mitt took second place..and could never recover, despite doing well in each race he was in. It's almost too late for anyone else to jump in and compete.. JEB Bush wont do it. Rick Perry from Texas maybe *. Any US Senator that could go at it, right now I can't think of one; (John Thune indicated he is NOT going to run). The rest of the Repub Govs are still too new to jump into a race this soon. But there are some GREAT Govs out there Christie, Walker, Scott, Kasich just to name a few. I suppose I should add Mitch Daniels from Indiana as a possible, he did make some dramatic changes to IND. But I think he'll come across a little too wimpy/ wonky for the voters to grasp. But he could be the possible upset. (He scored 4% in the CPAC poll).
My handicap: Romney wins with 54%; Cain places with 20%; T. Paw* (Perry jumped in the same day T.Paw dropped out), and/or Daniels drops out early with 3-4% ; Barbour 12%; and Ron Paul with 10% if he even gets in the race this time.
I welcome your comments and hopefully a dialogue. I fully expect the Mormon topic to come up as well. (* Comments were added regarding Perry/ T. Paw after the Iowa Straw Poll).
APRIL UPDATE: See Charles Krauthammers commentary: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/2011/04/22/2011-04-22_handicapping_the_2012_presidential_odds_can_any_of_the_republicans_unseat_obama.html
MAY UPDATE: Huckabee is out; Still looks like Palin is not running; Gingrich is in..but no one seems to take him seriously. Trump was a one week wonder. Daniels is seriously considering it...but there is a bunch of stuff with him that will be challenge. I'll talk about more later:
JUNE UPDATE: Palin still being discussed, But I don't expect her to get in; Huntsman to jump in this week. and Rick Perry is getting more serious talk, (I still think 50/50% at best). Fox Debate was "won" by Herman Cain..and his poll numbers ticked up. The New Hampshire debate added Romney and Michelle Bachmann and they both won the debate with Romney on top. The polls this week came out and have Romney breaking 30% and as high as 33%. The NH Poll came out with GOP/ IND. Voters who are "Likely" and over 50% had watched the NH Debate. Romney was 42% and led by over 32% over the nearest competitors: Ron Paul and Bachmann were tied with 10%. National polling gives Ron Paul has been stuck around 7-8% for years. Cain and Bachmann are both polling around 10-12%. Palin and Giulianni have been grabbing 14-16% but neither are likely to run. T. Paw can't get over 5%; Gingrich is still 8-9% despite his campaign staff all resigning last week. Finally Johnson and Huntsman are both stuck around 1-2%.