At FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver handicaps the top tier of GOP potentials. He sees it like so:
Romney: 3:2 / 40% chance of winning.
Pawlenty: 9:2 / 18% chance.
Perry: 7:1 / 12.5%.
Bachmann 15:2 / 12%.
Perry, he thinks, will get better odds just as soon as he announces — and that sounds about right to me. But I seriously question Silver’s analysis of T-Paw.
Pawlenty had a great couple of weeks. First he went to Iowa to denounce ethanol subsidies. Then he went on Fox News Sunday to plaster the “ObamneyCare” label on Romney. 30 hours later, in the GOP debate, John King set up Pawlenty to use the label again — and Pawlenty pulled his punch.
I can’t tell you how disappointed the Tea Party is with Pawlenty after that. He couldn’t stand up for himself in a friendly setting against friendly rivals. So how would President Pawlenty do, up against the Media-Government Complex when it comes time to do some very unpopular things?
Nate is usually spot-on, but in this singular case, I think his political leaning handicaps him with something of a blind spot. The Tea Party would certainly hold its nose and vote for a squish like Romney in the general election, but they won’t vote for a weakling in the primary. Bachmann looks much more like a fighter than Pawlenty does.
So — switch the odds between T-Paw and Bachmann, with the understanding that they’ll both slip down one notch when (if?) Perry jumps in.
Pawlenty can still save himself, but he’s going to have to display more guts than we’ve seen in the last 10 days.