Sunday, December 11, 2011

More Candidates Drop to Zero

For a minor candidate--one who is not close to leading in any state--time is the most precious resource. A minor candidate needs time in order to try something, anything, to change the dynamic of the race. The Iowa Caucus is only a few weeks away. Time has almost run out. As a result, the game is now over for most of the minor candidates.

Though many of the candidates will stick around--some, like Ron Paul, all the way until the convention--the field has been winnowed down to Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. After last night's debate, the odds of each Republican's winning the nomination have been recalculated. Two more candidates, Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman, have fallen to zero percent. Here are the recent changes:

Huntsman -2% -- As Huntsman learned at last night's debate, the barrier to entry for the debates goes up as voting day draws closer. Huntsman's numbers were not high enough to give him access to the debate, and you can't win without appearing at debates. Huntsman was focused on taking down Romney to create an opening in New Hampshire, but he's out of time.

Perry -2% -- The debates have not been kind to Rick Perry. He was already on life support after the first several took their toll, and he has done nothing to revive himself. With many Tea Partiers flocking to Gingrich and the rest either skeptical of Perry's conservatism or electability, Perry has been squeezed out. He lost his two-front war on both fronts.

Santorum -1% -- Santorum needs to hope that eventually the conservative Evangelicals in Iowa lose faith in Gingrich. If they do, they only have one more candidate to try out: Santorum. Gingrich's fall will need to happen quickly.

Romney -2% -- Romney's inherent attributes as a candidate make him stronger than Gingrich and more likely to win a protracted war. Unlike Gingrich, Romney's "negatives" are already priced in: Voters already know what they don't like about Romney, so he's unlikely to fall. But the burden is on Romney to take Gingrich down before voters go to the polls. Each day that passes without a successful attack on Gingrich is a day Romney can't afford to waste.

Gingrich +7% -- Gingrich's situation is the opposite of Romney's. As the leader in the polls, Gingrich wants time to fly as quickly as possible. So far he has not been damaged, and he can see Iowa on the horizon.