By Alex Hammer
Odds on the field:
Mitt Romney: Odds for nomination: 5-2
The front runner should probably have better odds. He's a solid candidate, generally recognized as the most knowledgeable and unflappable in the field. One can make a reasonably strong argument that he has the best qualifications in regard to his experience.
As everyone knows what could well keep Romney from winning the nomination is support coalescing around another candidate. He is extremely vulnerable to this as no matter how strong his performance he has to date had a very low ceiling of support of 22% - 25%. While Republicans may eventually line up behind him later on, the lack of higher support for another candidate is the result of continual unforced errors if not self-sabotage by his closest rivals, one after the other.
Conservatives prefer not to vote for Romney and there are a great deal of them in the party. But they also hate to lose the election to President Obama as well.
Herman Cain: Odds for nomination 7-1
Most people seem to feel that Herman Cain is not qualified (nor prepared) to be President, but enough Republican voters simply may not care.
Cain has one critical factor working for him. On a personal level people like him, and whether it should be this way or not likability can be a critical factor in voting. Cain has been injured by the sexual harassment allegations, especially with women, but to date this issue doesn't appear to be terminal to his campaign. Worse politically may be his foreign policy gaffes and obvious lack of knowledge in this area. But Cain is a quick learner and the role of foreign policy, unless a major event interjects, is far secondary in an environment of such domestic economic challenge.
Newt Gingrich: Odds for nomination 7-1
Clearly has the intellect (and sufficient experience) to be President but lacks the temperament. Most harmful for Gingrich's chances are the baggage, both policy and personal. Gingrich's numbers are surging and his innovative and articulate thinking are major pluses that will likely make him a factor deep into the race.
Ron Paul: Odds for nomination 7-1
Ron Paul? Ron Paul is not likely to be the nominee but he is quite likely to be one of the last candidates standing. Why is that? One significant factor is that the solidness of Paul's support from his supporters appears, as well documented, to be the strongest (rabid?) of any candidate. One reason for this is that he is so different from any of the other candidates. If you are a conservative you have several choices to consider, and the same is true if you are economically more moderate. But if you are a libertarian? You wouldn't consider anybody else in the field.
Ron Paul is able to raise significant money so he is not dependent upon the media to fuel his campaign. This is very significant. Some polling indicates that Paul is poised, additionally, to do very well in Iowa.
Limiting Paul is that he is not the second or even third choice of most voters. Many consider him too extreme.
Michelle Bachmann: Odds for nomination 10-1
Bachmann has been high in the polls at one time and could return. She is extremely knowledgeable and a forceful and effective presenter. Bachmann is limited by her lack of experience and her propensity for apparent misstatement or mistakes. Some of her positions may also be too far right for many voters.
Following Hillary Clinton's historic run not much has been made of Bachmann's gender, but I think this is a factor that could help her candidacy.
Rick Perry: Odds for nomination 12 -1
Certainly Perry has been too often horrendous in the debates. Personally, I have an aversion to some Perry factors, including the number of people that have been executed in Texas during his tenure.
Perry has, without a doubt, substantial experience, and a phenomenal political history. He appears to be over his head in the Presidential contest (for one thing, unlike Romney, he hasn't had the time necessary to adequately prepare) but he could come back to competitive status.
Jon Huntsman: Odds for nomination 12-1
Hasn't gained traction but he could as the field narrows. Presents very well and is highly experienced and knowledgeable. Doesn't seem to rub voters the wrong way as do some of the other candidates at times.
Rick Santorum: Odds for nomination 50-1
Doesn't have much support but unlike Huntsman Santorum, whose appeal is arguably to a much narrower slice of the party, doesn't seem to have a route to get there. Likely to be one of the very first out of the race.
Brokered Convention: Odds for nomination 50-1
Never say never. Wouldn't that be fun?
By Alex Hammer