Friday, April 22, 2011

What About Bachmann?

As you can see from the Campaign Status page, Elephant Watcher is currently analyzing the race as if it contains 12 candidates, none of whom have officially declared (yet) they are running for the nomination. Since we are dealing with some candidates who may not run at all, there is necessarily a judgment call: Who is included and who isn't?

In particular, some readers are curious about Michele Bachmann, who is not (yet) included among the candidates Elephant Watcher is analyzing. There is quite a bit of speculation in the media about her potential candidacy, and she is behaving like someone who wants to run.

Bachmann has not been included because her decision whether or not to run appears to be entirely contingent upon another candidate: Sarah Palin. If Palin runs, Bachmann will not; if Palin declines to run, Bachmann will.

It's certainly possible that both could run (or neither). But it would seem that Bachmann is too cognizant of the overlap between them: Both are solid conservatives with a loyal (as of yet, limited) following, Tea Party credentials, and would be competing for the same voters. They are also the only women who may enter the race. It makes sense for Bachmann to defer to Palin, who has not yet decided whether to run.

Elephant Watcher has begun a preliminary analysis of Bachmann, and she will be added to the roster of candidates if/when (A) she officially runs, (B) she forms an exploratory committee, or (C) Palin officially declines to run.

Then there is the matter of some other candidates who have not been included, despite their forming exploratory committees or officially declaring. Perhaps the most prominent is the former governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson. Johnson has officially declared he is in the race.

Johnson has received minimal attention from the media and has generally not been included in any polls. Johnson will be analyzed and added to the roster of candidates if he gains some support, media attention, or if he is included in any major primary debates.

Speaking of debates, a future post will discuss how it's decided which candidates are invited to the primary debates.