This morning, I ran across a site that, just days ago, posted the purported odds for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
According to this site, BetVega.com, these are the favorites:
Sarah Palin: 3.5-1
No way. We've taken this up here before. Palin won't win the nomination for a number of reasons, including but not limited to: (1) serious inexperience; (2) intellectual vapidity; (3) a lack of high-dollar donors; (4) high unfavorables, even among Republicans; and (5) Republicans' propensity to make the safe play (e.g., Dole in 1996, Bush in 2000, McCain in 2008). Furthermore, why would Palin want to leave the cushy Fox News/scripted rally/book-signing circuit? She's made millions since quitting the Alaska governorship in July 2009 and can pick and choose the interviews she gives. She won't have any such luxury if she seeks the presidency.
Mitt Romney: 4-1
A much safer bet than Palin, Romney will no doubt be a serious contender in 2012. He is everything Palin is not: Experienced, smart, a favorite of the high-dollar guys, and excruciatingly boring. I still don't think Romney will wind up with the nomination, however, simply based on the fact that John McCain -- reviled among many quarters of the right -- trounced him in 2008 despite Romney's bottomless finances. Romney simply doesn't get voters excited, and there is something fundamentally inauthentic about him that simply bleeds through the TV. Even when Romney was the allegedly clear conservative choice in the race and had the backing of the entire talk-radio circuit -- Limbaugh, Hannity, Levin, et al. -- he still finished a distant third behind McCain and Mike Huckabee. When Romney faces a true-blue conservative -- and there will be several of them in 2012 -- he might get lost in the shuffle. And that doesn't even take into account the problems he will face when health care reform comes up.
Mike Huckabee: 5-1
Huckabee ran a marvelous campaign in 2008 to finish second behind McCain. But this also is a bad play for several reasons. First, as was pointed out in 2008, Huckabee was not a particularly conservative governor during his tenure in Arkansas. Second, if Sarah Palin runs, a chunk of his 2008 social conservative base will fall in line behind her instead. Third, like Palin, Huckabee has a cushy gig on Fox News and unlike the uber-wealthy Romney, Huckabee doesn't have a sizable personal fortune to run on. Fourth, Maurice Clemmons.
Bobby Jindal: 6-1
By demonstrating stoic, forceful leadership during the Gulf oil spill, Jindal made most people forget about his abysmal response to President Obama's State of the Union address in January 2009. I'm bullish on Jindal for 2016, but think 2012 might be a bit too early. He's super smart and an excellent governor, but I'm afraid he'll get swallowed up in the upcoming field. Even if a Republican topples Obama in 2012 and Jindal has to wait until 2020, that's plenty of time -- he'll only be 49 on election day.
The rest will be taken up in part 2 ...