MITT ROMNEY: THE CHALLENGER So far, so good, as Romney has run one of the most effective early campaigns in history, coming from nowhere to the top tier. But he has to win the real Iowa caucus, not just a straw poll, and it remains to be seen whether his lead will hold when his rivals open their war chests and start campaigning and advertising in earnest in Iowa. And even if he does win that state and then New Hampshire, he’ll still need a second and a third act, though polls show that his Iowa straw-poll bounce has now moved him into contention in South Carolina.
NEWT GINGRICH: THE RINGER Gingrich is another candidate who looks as if he’s gamed the process correctly. While the whole field has lost stature in debates and (now–withdrawn candidate) Tommy Thompson and McCain have stumbled, he’s been able to float above the process. And the New Right still hasn’t found its champion. A mid-fall entry seems likely, so it isn’t out of the question that, in a crowded field, Gingrich could sneak a victory in Iowa or New Hampshire.
FRED THOMPSON: THE PRETENDER As Dick Morris pointed out the other day, Thompson may be the first candidate in history to implode before he even announces. He’s dithered so long getting his campaign together that he’s allowed critics and the press to focus on his campaign’s staffing mistakes and his personal life. He has a chance to turn things around when he is expected to announce finally in September. But unless he’s startlingly good when we actually see him, Thompson will never get off the ground. After all, the other candidates have had a lot more practice than he has, even if they’ve never appeared on Law and Order.
JOHN MCCAIN: THE VETERAN It’s hard to see how McCain could stage a comeback with no money, no momentum, and a campaign platform that is more tied to the unpopular incumbent than any other candidate’s. He has less than a 50-50 shot of even getting to the third contest, the South Carolina primary on January 19.
MIKE HUCKABEE: THE DARK HORSE His surprise second-place showing in the Iowa straw poll gives him a chance to get a second look, but that will also invite more scrutiny. And, to be taken seriously, he’ll have to raise enough money to compete with the major contenders. Realistically, he has to finish a strong second in Iowa to continue into New Hampshire. That still seems unlikely.
SAM BROWNBACK: THE LONG SHOT His campaign is over, though he doesn’t seem to realize it yet. Like Huckabee, he has to finish a strong second in Iowa to continue into New Hampshire. That seems impossible at this point.
TOM TANCREDO: THE GLUE FACTORY Anti-immigration today, anti-immigration tomorrow, anti-immigration forever. It’s not enough to carry a campaign.
DUNCAN HUNTER: THE HORSE MEAT Hard to believe the California congressman won’t drop out imminently.
RON PAUL: THE OUTSIDER His supporters are enthusiastic, but there aren’t many of them.
RUDY GIULIANI Odds: 5-3 | past week: same
MITT ROMNEY Odds: 3-1 | 7-2
NEWT GINGRICH Odds: 5-1 | same
FRED THOMPSON Odds: 7-1 | 6-1
JOHN MCCAIN Odds: 12-1 | 9-1
MIKE HUCKABEE Odds: 40-1 | 80-1
SAM BROWNBACK Odds: 500-1 | 1,000-1
TOM TANCREDO Odds: 150,000-1 | same
DUNCAN HUNTER Odds: 200,000-1 | 100,000-1
RON PAUL Odds: 200,000-1 | 100,000-1
BARACK OBAMA Odds: 5-4 | past week: same
HILLARY CLINTON Odds: 4-3 | same
JOHN EDWARDS Odds: 8-1 | same
BILL RICHARDSON Odds: 65-1 | same
JOE BIDEN Odds: 75-1 | same
CHRIS DODD Odds: 250-1 | same
DENNIS KUCINICH Odds: 100,000-1 | same
MIKE GRAVEL Odds: 8 million to 1 | same
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The Presidential Tote Board Blog: http://www.thephoenix.com/toteboard