GOP Presidential Power Rankings

It’s been an interesting last couple of weeks in the race for the Republican nomination for president as this race has seen the two frontrunners go after each other on economic records and other issues, including a debate over Social Security. While Romney has cast himself as a conservative, he has been running to the left of Perry on entitlements, chastizing Perry for his past comments on the issue.

As far as the rankings go, I’ve moved Herman Cain up a spot over Newt Gingrich, but he’s still below Bachmann. But I expect a shake up as soon as next week as fresh polls come out in the race.

The News

  • Gov. Mitch Daniels, who recently released his new book Keeping the Republic (which I’m reading right now), has been recruiting other potential candidates for the GOP nominatio. Apparently, Daniels isn’t happy with how the current field has been addressing ecomomic issues, noting that the candidate he’d like is “someone who is willing to level with the American people and assume they are prepared to listen to the mathematical facts and agree that whatever other disagreements we have aren’t as important.”
  • The “Rubio for VP” campaign got some attention from The Hill this past week as prominent conservatives are hailing the freshman Senator for the vision has laid out during his short time in the national spotlight.
  • In case you’re wondering, Romney is leading in congressional endorsments. He has 20, Perry has nine, Newt Gingrich has four, and Ron Paul has three.

The Rankings

Rick Perry (down): Whatever momentum Perry had in this race is gone. His debate performances have left much to be desired, with Thursday evening being disastrous for his campaign. On Friday, Perry warned Republicans not to be lured in by the “slickest candidate or the smoothest debater,” ostensibly an admission that he has been bested by Romney. Another sign that Perry is falling is the results of the Florida straw poll. Chris Moody notes that many voters switched to Cain over concerns about Perry. The comparisons to Fred Thompson are becoming more relevant by the day.

Mitt Romney (up): While August belonged to Perry, Romney has owned September. National polls had showed Romney closing the gap with Perry prior to Thursday’s debate. Romney had also picked up an important endorsements from Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) a candidate for US Senate and respected fiscal conservative, and House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), whose profile has been raised due to his committee’s investigations of the Obama Administration. More importantly, Romney is still the only GOP candidate that is competing with Obama in polls.

Ron Paul (even): Paul put up one of his best debate performances on Thursday, but his national poll numbers have leveled out recently. Given that Perry has started to decline, another conservative candidate entering the race could put even out the top tier more and boost Paul chances of contending.

Michele Bachmann (down): Ed Rollins said last week that Bachmann could win in Iowa, but that she has no money to compete in other states. Bachmann is currently even with Romney in Iowa, but both are behind Perry. Bachmann doesn’t matter anymore, and if she is still hanging around after Iowa, I’d be surprised.

Herman Cain (up): Cain got a boost over the weekend by winning the Florida straw poll. However, straw poll wins don’t equal votes in primaries or caucuses. We’ve long known that Cain can deliver one-liners that draw conservatives; but his numbers have fallen off since June, he hasn’t raise much money, and he hasn’t been able to sufficently answer very direct policy questions during interviews. Cain’s campaign may have been given new life; but for all the complaints about Obama lacking substance, it makes no sense for conservatives to get behind Cain. Yeah, he’s mastered rhetoric, but there isn’t much behind it.

Newt Gingrich: (even): Gingrich’s poll numbers have slowly edged up as he has now almost come even with Bachmann, but Republicans are largely staying away from his campaign.

Rick Santorum (up): Santorum was able to help Romney on Thursday by knocking Perry over the head about immigration, which convinced many to consider him a winner in the debate. Polls, however, still show Santorum in the cellar as traditional social issues — abortion and gay marriage — have taken a back seat to the economy.

Jon Huntsman (even): I’d never heard much of a big deal about a candidate finishing third in a poll until this week, after Suffolk released their latest numbers out of New Hampshire. Even with Huntsman polling lower than Santorum, the media is still paying him attention.

Gary Johnson (up): Johnson is back after being absent from the last few power rankings. The impression he left on Thursday was positive, and it wasn’t limited to his joke about Obama’s shovel ready jobs. Will his poll numbers creep up? We’ll see soon enough.

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