Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Tiers (TM) for 11/8/11

Formerly known as "The Horserace", my analysis of the presidential race will now be called "The Tiers". There are several reasons for this. For one, it sounds cooler, and for two, it is more original and distinguishes me from other blogs. But more importantly, the race is clearly settling down into three tiers and is more clearly analyzed along those lines. Much like the Cambodian temple pictured above, you must first climb the lower tiers before being deemed worthy of breathing rarer air, so we will start at the bottom and work our way upward.

Third Tier
There are currently three candidates in the third tier: Bachmann at 3%, Santorum at 2%, and Huntsman at 1%. Why does this tier even exist? And why isn't there a fourth tier? Well, I suppose you could consider Roemer, Karger, etc. fourth tier candidates, i.e. those that don't register in the polls. However, such candidates are not "in it to win it". The third tier consists of candidates, who, however low they may be polling right now, can still envision a path to victory by winning early states. Otherwise, they would have dropped out by now. Bachmann and Santorum aim to boost their poll numbers and momentum by winning Iowa, while Huntsman is hoping to knock off Romney in NH. Of the three, I actually think Huntsman has the best chance, despite sometimes polling at 0% nationally. The reason for this is that he has occasionally posted good numbers in NH, and he is a consistent, competent moderate who is nevertheless fiscally conservative. Should NH voters conclude that Romney is too inconsistent to beat Obama, they may take a look at Huntsman. Bachmann and Santorum are a bit of a longer shot, especially as they are competing against each other, not to mention higher tiered candidates. Of the two, Santorum has the best chance of gaining traction as Cain's scandals begging to depress his support among Iowa women. Bachmann is still on a downward trend nationally and scraping by with what's left of the organization she built in order to win the Iowa straw poll.

Second Tier
This tier might be considered "the bench". It consists of candidates who have enough of a support base to put them somewhere near 10% in the polls. Should a leading candidate falter, one of them might have an opportunity to "sub in". Currently Paul sits on the lower end of this group with about 9%. He obviously has a base, but it is doubtful that the rest of the GOP will give him a second look. Perry, similarly, has a residual base comprised of big money from corporations, and, presumably, Texans? Like Paul, he has stumbled badly in the debates, and his antics have made him look like a brain dead ADD riddled clown. However, in the absence of any other viable candidate, his experience as governor might earn him an inning of relief. Gingrich is the leader of the pack, and close to breaking through into the first tier. Polling at 13%, he continues to slowly gain followers, raise money, and add momentum. He is definitely the tortoise in the race, but in this crazy election season slow and steady may be just what is needed. The ability to articulate conservative solutions based on a proven record of conservative reform as Speaker will carry him far.

First Tier
These candidates have the most support, and, obviously, are vying for the top spot. Romney consistently polls between 20% and 30%, depending on the other options at the time. He seems to be settling around 25%. Basically, he hopes to win by waiting out the other candidates. If someone (say, Gingrich) gathers momentum and comes on strong he can easily be defeated, as his support is capped at 30% due to his flip flops, liberal record, and lack of social conservative (read: evangelical) cred. However, if the field stays split, he could eke out a win by just being the last man standing. Cain, as we all know, has been challenging Romney for the top spot, and accordingly things are getting very ugly. Cain's biggest problem is his lack of experience and gravitas. Though he's doing the best he can to project it, many people just can't see him seriously having what it takes to challenge Obama. And the harassment allegations, while perhaps spurious, seem to paint a picture of a ladies' man who routinely used his power as CEO to attempt to gain favors. The damage isn't actually done by the allegations themselves; it occurs because they reinforce the already prevalent image of Cain as a jokester who's not fit to be president. Current polling shows Cain sliding back beneath Romney. Should he fall far enough, the conservative media which is currently defending him will turn on him and it will be lights out for his campaign. Whoever is behind all this (probably a lot of people - media, GOP opponents, Dems) has done their research well and the attacks are connecting with the intended target. Women are now starting to view Cain as a player and he is taking on water fast. I'm still undecided as to whether Cain will survive, albeit having lost his front runner status, or plummet a. la. Bachmann and Perry. Either way, the conservative base will be searching for another alternative to Romney to promote to the first tier.

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