Diagnostic politics

By STEVEN STARK  |  March 28, 2007

Mitt Romney.
Odds: 11-1.

One reads wildly conflicting stories about the Romney effort. He’s doing great and raising tons of money, say some; he can’t get traction among conservatives, say others. The truth is probably a mixture of both. In the end, Romney’s whole campaign comes down to New Hampshire. Either he’ll win it and become a contender, or he’ll drop out the next day. Right now, the polls have him within striking distance of the leaders in the Granite State, so he’s in good shape there. Still, he needs at least a strong third in Iowa the week before, in order to convince NH voters that he’s the real thing; that will be the first challenge, especially with Tommy Thompson now in the race.

Tommy Thompson.
Odds: 40-1.

His entry strategy — essentially move to Iowa and try to win the first caucus — is a good one, since he’s a neighbor and there appears to be a vacuum there. Whether the strategy works is another story and he will need a follow-up act. Either way, it’s hard to believe he’ll be able to raise tons of money.

Sam Brownback.
Odds: 80-1.

All the talk about an entry by Fred Thompson or Newt Gingrich simply stalls this campaign; and Tommy Thompson’s entry doesn’t help either, because Brownback also must win in Iowa if he wants to proceed. Another month or two like this and this campaign begins to look terminal.

Mike Huckabee.
Odds: 125-1.

A decent guy who is having trouble getting traction in such a large field.

James Gilmore.
Odds: 750-1.

The guess here is that he decides soon not to run.

Duncan Hunter.
Odds: 1000-1.
The hope here is that he decides soon not to run.

Tom Tancredo.
Odds: 5000-1.

Immigration is still not on anyone’s hot-button list.

Ron Paul.
Odds: 10,000-1.

Few care whether he runs or not.

Another entry?
The word is that Fred Thompson’s wife now wants him to run (which is either a hopeful sign or a signal that she’s anxious to get him out of the house), and Newt Gingrich continues to expound into any microphone within a 500-mile radius.

Democrats

Barack Obama.
Odds: 3-2.

The usual pattern in presidential politics is that a candidate like Obama gets the full build-up from the media, and then gets torn apart for a while. That doesn’t seem to be happening this time, in part because talk radio’s obsession with Hillary has so far shielded Obama. He needs a few months of relatively little coverage to refine his stump speech and approach. So far, he seems to be getting it.

Hillary Clinton.
Odds: 7-4.

The machine churns on, methodically raising money and signing up operatives. Vilsack’s endorsement, though hardly unexpected, will help in Iowa — though the assistance of a former governor doesn’t carry a fraction of the benefit of that of incumbents.

John Edwards.
Odds: 5-1.

Last week’s events aside, Edwards is making good progress, leading in Iowa where he needs to do well, and making up ground in New Hampshire. He shouldn’t be counted out.

Bill Richardson.
Odds: 55-1.

The press regards him as a sleeper. Good night.

Chris Dodd.
Odds: 60-1.
Having trouble attracting coverage.

Joe Biden.
Odds: 70-1.
Ditto.

Dennis Kucinich.
Odds: 25,000-1.
He’s old news this time around.

Mike Gravel.
Odds: 1 million to 1.

The good news is he has nowhere to go but up.

On the Web
Presidential Tote Board: http://www.thephoenix.com/toteboard

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