Every major professional sport except college football has an entire system to determine the best team. That doesn’t stop those covering each sport from postulating who the best team is on a week-to-week basis. Since the Presidential race has become an odd mix of reality television, sports, and horse racing, why not do the same?
Here’s what my white board looks like this week:
1. Barack Obama. Dean Wormer: Dead! Niedermeyer: Dead! Gaddafi: Dead! The President looked Presidential this week, and American Crossroads polling indicated his “tax the rich” rhetoric has a chance to resonate.
2. Mitt Romney. The sheen of inevitability was nicked in the last debate, but Romney continues to line up endorsements.
3. Rick Perry. The signs of life Perry showed in the Nevada debate should re-energize supporters, donors, and the rest of the campaign infrastructure for a short time. His points on domestic energy development, which he has been bringing up in debates consistently, give him a positive issue to run on that no other serious candidate is talking about.
4. Herman Cain. Cain is driving the Republican discussion with his 9-9-9 plan. The row over his pro-life beliefs won’t be a deal-breaker because there is no meat to it, but may be indicative of a more serious problem with message discipline. His ability to do the blocking and tackling it takes to build an election-winning organization is still suspect. Still the front-runner for the Vice President slot on the GOP ticket.
5. Ron Paul. Paul is still the life of the party. The troop withdrawal in Iraq will give him another chance to tell the rest of the party he told them so.
6. Michelle Bachmann. Her staff in New Hampshire wasn’t all that important, anyway. Iowa is Bachmann’s make-or-break playing field.
7. Chris Christie. Despite denials and endorsements to the contrary, still more likely to be President in 2013 than the last two people on this list. On the outside chance that Romney and Perry wind up in a brokered convention stalemate in August 2012, Christie looks like an obvious choice to unite the party. Sure, it’s a long shot, but still more likely than…
8. Rick Santorum. Santorum looked shrill and childish going after Romney in the Nevada debate, but he made his points. He could wind up as the kamikaze of the debate season.
9. John Huntsman. Still waiting for his mojo. His candidacy is tough to define, though his shots at Herman Cain in the previous debate were witty and clever.