One straw poll down – how many to go?

With the problem of new media in the form of the RedState Gathering being held on the same weekend – and drawing the attention of most of the Republican candidates – the plug was pulled on the Iowa Straw Poll for this year.

While it was a bellweather event, the ISP was not a very good forecaster, even of the Iowa caucuses held just a few short months later. Out of six events from 1979-2011, the summer winner only went on to win the Iowa caucuses half the time and whiffed in both 2007 and 2011. Only in 1999, when George W. Bush won, was the winner the man who went on to be president. Not a really good track record.

But the poll did have some effects on the field – ask Tim Pawlenty about his 2012 campaign which ended shortly after his fellow Minnesotan Michele Bachmann won the last event in 2011. Then again, that was just about the peak of Bachmann’s campaign, which ended immediately after the 2012 Iowa caucuses. In fact, the leftist publication Mother Jones mockingly thanked Bachmann for killing the Straw Poll.

While straw polls can be useful, their function of being a prediction of eventual support for candidates was superseded by both regular polling and social media. Want to know who the hot candidate is? Just check out the number of Facebook likes for their campaign. For example, Rand Paul recently eclipsed the 2-million mark in “likes” and Ben Carson is north of 1.5 million, whereas a candidate like Lindsey Graham isn’t even to 114,000 yet. (By comparison, Hillary Clinton has about 885,000 and our old buddy Martin O’Malley 70,855.) It took me five minutes to find that information and, unlike the Iowa Straw Poll, I didn’t have to pay for dinner nor go to Iowa to participate.

So this year it looks like we will have to wait until later this fall to start eliminating candidates. I have already started with my research, though, and over the coming weeks I’ll share what I’m finding as I make my own decision on who to back for 2016.

Another one bites the dust

Just two days before the South Carolina primary, Rick Perry decided at last to drop out. You may recall he was considering withdrawing after the Iowa caucuses, but instead decided to concentrate on placing well in South Carolina. Turns out he wasn’t doing well there either, so Perry decided to throw in the towel and endorse Newt Gingrich.

That’s the topline story. So what can I dredge up from between the lines?

First of all, Perry is the first notable dropout to endorse Newt. Others who were in the race either endorsed Mitt Romney (most recently Jon Huntsman but also Tim Pawlenty and Thad McCotter) or have remained silent as to who they would back. It was thought that Herman Cain would throw his support behind Newt but he made no official statement to that effect, and Michele Bachmann has likewise been mum with her choice.

This also changes the equation of the race, as it’s now down to four main contenders. In political terms among that rapidly shrinking group, Perry’s departure leaves only Mitt Romney with any sort of executive experience as a former governor and Ron Paul as the last remaining current officeholder – Newt left the House in 1998, Rick Santorum was defeated for re-election to the Senate in 2006, and Romney chose not to run again in 2006. And presumably the anti-Romney vote is now split just three ways, with conventional wisdom predicting the new weakest link to be Rick Santorum.

But let’s talk about some other factors at play here.

Continue reading “Another one bites the dust”

When do the candidates drop out?

We’re just 45 days out from the Iowa caucuses (believe it or not) but there are still ten serious candidates seeking the GOP nomination.

I bring this up because, in the 2008 cycle, we had already lost a few people when they realized the money wasn’t going to be there or they had no path to victory. This is going to be true among probably six or so of the 2012 contenders, but they soldier on regardless.

Perhaps this is because the person who was counted out a month ago may make a meteoric rise in the polls based on a campaign plank, a great debate performance, or just the fact they were viewed as the hot new item in public perception. Thus far, this phenomenon has benefited several candidates: Herman Cain (twice), Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and now Newt Gingrich. Even Tim Pawlenty had his turn, although once his down cycle arrived (at the peak of fellow Minnesotan Michele Bachmann’s cycle at the Iowa Straw Poll) he decided to exit the race. Way back when, before the race had really jelled together, Jon Huntsman had a turn at the wheel too. But by the time he actually announced that support was gone.

On the other hand, one has to wonder if the turns will ever come for guys like Gary Johnson, Buddy Roemer, or Rick Santorum. They continue to suffer from abysmally low poll numbers, and the question is now getting to be whether they’ll have the money or manpower to get their message out before it’s too late.

And you’ll notice I didn’t mention Mitt Romney or Ron Paul. It’s because both seem to have a narrow strata of support which ranges in the low twenties for Romney and right around ten percent for Paul. They don’t seem to deviate much from those plateaus, which begs the question of whether the field is too crowded for them right now. Presumably they can tread water until some of the bottom-feeders finally exit the scene.

I’m going to do a poll for a few days and see what you think will be the result of the coming shakeout. I think it’s interesting to speculate who just doesn’t have the horses to continue on.

Herman Cain should be the new Bill Clinton. Right?

Haven’t we seen this movie before?

I have to admit, though, it’s sort of fun to watch it blow up in the faces of liberals who gloated for a decade about how all the allegations about Bill Clinton and the cover-ups of his sordid affairs weren’t as important as how he ran the country – to them, it was all a sideshow from Republicans who were angry they couldn’t beat him at the ballot box. (Never mind there was perjury enough for Clinton to be disbarred.)

Continue reading “Herman Cain should be the new Bill Clinton. Right?”

Cain surges in polls: is he the anti-Romney?

According to a new Rasmussen Poll, Herman Cain and Mitt Romney are now virtually tied on the top of the Republican presidential heap as both garnered 29% in the sampling. And the new number three is Newt Gingrich, who gets 10 percent while former frontrunner Rick Perry has slipped all the way back to fourth, at nine percent.

It’s interesting to note the history of how this race has gone. Mitt Romney has always seemed to have his 20 to 30 percent support and that number doesn’t seem to waver regardless of who’s in the race; it’s enough to keep him on top or a close second in most polls.

But the role of portraying that “other” contender seems to change on a cycle of about a month or two.

Continue reading “Cain surges in polls: is he the anti-Romney?”

Dropouts 4 Romney

This is something I found interesting.

Having followed the Republican presidential nominating process for 2012 for some time, it’s telling to me that three candidates who have either bowed out or said they were never in the race have endorsed Mitt Romney. The latter category was filled yesterday by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, with both Tim Pawlenty and Thad McCotter also choosing Romney after exiting the race.

Of course, that’s not to say that many other politicians haven’t endorsed Mitt Romney – heck, Maryland has its own list of Republicans who back him. I just don’t happen to be one of them.

Continue reading “Dropouts 4 Romney”

T-Paw first to go

I suppose third wasn’t good enough and the impact of Rick Perry entering the race was too much for Tim Pawlenty to overcome. Today he announced he was ending his Presidential bid.

Like Tommy Thompson four years ago, the former governor of a state adjacent to Iowa didn’t carry the day as he thought he would. While Tim received nearly 2,300 votes of the 16,800 or so cast, he lost the battle to his fellow Minnesotan Michele Bachmann by a better than 2:1 margin. That’s likely what sealed his fate.

It’s likely that Pawlenty’s support may drift mostly in two directions, since he didn’t endorse a candidate in his announcement. I think the portion that already wasn’t leaning toward Rick Perry will just go ahead and embrace the Perry campaign, while others may help Jon Huntsman keep his flailing bid alive.

Meanwhile, despite his puny 35-vote performance, bottom-feeder Thad McCotter is going to continue his long-shot bid. His campaign had its predictable spin on the results:

“For this campaign, the Straw Poll was not about votes, it was about introducing our candidate to the public in our first large forum,” said Christopher Rants, McCotter senior adviser. “For a campaign that has only just begun, it was important that we show the people of Iowa – and the rest of the country – that this was a serious candidate ready to address serious issues for our country. By any measure, we did that this weekend.”

I’m sorry, Christopher, but getting 35 votes is lousy. Rick Perry’s campaign has just begun as well and he got over 700 – as a write-in who didn’t even campaign in Iowa this week. Try again.

So we still have the same net number of hopefuls we did last week as the one who entered was countered by an early exit.

Bachmann takes Iowa, but Paul a close second

Well, the results of the Ames Straw Poll are in, and they’re not a complete surprise.

  1. Michele Bachmann, 4823 votes (28.55%)
  2. Ron Paul, 4671 votes (27.65%)
  3. Tim Pawlenty, 2293 votes (13.57%)
  4. Rick Santorum, 1657 votes (9.81%)
  5. Herman Cain, 1456 votes (8.62%)
  6. Rick Perry, 718 votes (3.62%) – write-in
  7. Mitt Romney, 567 votes (3.36%) – skipped event
  8. Newt Gingrich, 385 votes  (2.28%) – skipped event
  9. Jon Huntsman, 69 votes (0.41%) – skipped event
  10. Thad McCotter, 35 votes (0.21%)

By dividing the vote totals by the percentages of the top two finishers, I’ve deduced there are roughly 187 votes for candidates not listed. That means Sarah Palin (if she received all of them, which I’m sure she did not) would have finished well back in the pack and ahead of just Huntsman and McCotter. Considering Rick Perry finished sixth without being on the ballot, perhaps she’s not the formidable “Mama Grizzly” we may have thought she’d be.

While Bachmann and Pawlenty were expected to do well, Rick Santorum probably raised a lot of eyebrows by coming in fourth. Surely Pawlenty’s team has to be disappointed by how badly he was trounced by Michele Bachmann, though – being the second-most popular Minnesotan in Iowa is bad enough, but he lost by a better than 2-to-1 margin.

Having Ron Paul come in second is no real surprise, as he tends to do quite well in a situation where voting is confined to a small space that can be packed by his rabid following. But Paul tripled his 2007 performance in Ames, going from 9.1% to 27.7 percent. Perhaps he’s more of a player this time, but most likely still not good enough to win the nomination.

A few months back in the spring, it looked like Herman Cain was the “it” candidate, but apparently his support has cooled off. It’s likely Bachmann’s entrance has cut heavily into his support and he may be an early casualty in the race because of this result.

In looking at the bottom five, you have the newly-announced write-in (Rick Perry) who did reasonably well. It would have been interesting, though, to see how he would have done had he been on the ballot. I’m sure he wouldn’t have beaten Michele Bachmann or Ron Paul but I think he would’ve knocked Pawlenty down to a fourth or fifth place finish.

The next three did not represent themselves in Ames, so their campaigns will chalk their poor finishes up to that factor and not how much they may or may not have appealed to the Republican regulars who attended. In that respect, I’m not surprised at the order in which they finished. However, with only 1/5 or so of the votes of the next person up, the much-ballyhooed campaign of Jon Huntsman may be in trouble because it’s not catching fire with the grassroots.

I’ve checked Thad McCotter’s website over the last hour, and aside from a Tweet congratulating “my colleagues” Bachmann and Paul on their finishes, there’s no indication of his future plans. But such a poor finish when he spoke for himself at the event doesn’t bode well for his chances. When your votes are outnumbered 138 to 1 by the winner’s, that’s a pretty big hill to climb.

So I suppose the silly season has begun in earnest. As I said yesterday, the only shoe which may need to drop on the GOP side is whether Sarah Palin will make a late entry into the race.

(On the Democratic side, there’s always a chance that Barack Obama may have a primary challenge from the left. If nothing else I’d just like to hear Obama say “I’ll whip his ass” like Jimmy Carter did regarding Ted Kennedy’s longshot bid. That might be the only ass our President whips since SEAL Team 6 isn’t available anymore.)

Once I get back to doing my candidate rankings I’ll add Perry in and see who I select. At the moment I’m backing the frontrunner but it’s all subject to change.

If Perry is in, then who’s out?

Since a number of published reports have Texas Governor Rick Perry entering the 2012 Presidential race as soon as tomorrow, the obvious question is – who will have their share of the support pie taken?

Personally I’m of the opinion that, if one was to compare this situation to the stock market, a Perry run has already been priced in. A certain number of people have already been sitting on the sidelines just waiting for an official announcement from Rick and now they will join the game – so the “pie” is a little bit larger.

Yet another school of thought intrigues me as well. Let’s break the remaining thirteen or so in the field into three groups – they’re ranked within each group in order of national support, more or less. An asterisk (*) denotes that the candidate is entered into tomorrow’s Iowa Straw Poll.

The Legislators:

  1. Michele Bachmann (House member from Minnesota)*
  2. Ron Paul (House member from Texas)*
  3. Newt Gingrich (former Speaker of the House from Georgia)*
  4. Rick Santorum (former Senator from Pennsylvania)*
  5. Thad McCotter (House member from Michigan)*

This group will likely have little change in the order or in their amount of support. Some think that Bachmann has the most to lose from a Perry candidacy, but I tend to disagree.

The Outsiders:

  1. Herman Cain (former CEO, radio host, and onetime U.S. Senate candidate from Georgia)*
  2. Roy Moore (Alabama Supreme Court justice and candidate for Governor)
  3. Fred Karger (longtime political consultant from California)

Again, since Herman Cain is by far the class of this small group there’s probably little for them to lose if he gets in, although it would make life somewhat more difficult for Roy Moore if he indeed decides to stop exploring.

The Governors:

  1. Mitt Romney (former governor of Massachusetts)*
  2. Jon Huntsman (former governor of Utah)*
  3. Tim Pawlenty (former governor of Minnesota)*
  4. Gary Johnson (former governor of New Mexico)
  5. Buddy Roemer (former governor of Louisiana)

This is the group most hurt by a Perry bid, because there are many voters who feel having some sort of executive experience is the best attribute for a President. Four of our previous five Presidents before Obama served as a governor, with George H.W. Bush the exception. And that exception deserves an asterisk of sorts because the elder Bush was Vice-President for eight years under Ronald Reagan.

I believe a Perry candidacy hurts Mitt Romney to a small degree because he’s sort of the anointed, establishment candidate and Rick Perry isn’t really an establishment darling. On the other side of the coin, Buddy Roemer has little support to lose and Gary Johnson is playing to a libertarian group that splits its allegiance between him and Ron Paul.

The two candidates who really have the most to fear about Rick Perry getting into the race are Tim Pawlenty and Jon Huntsman. Pawlenty is running as a candidate who won as a Republican in a Democratic-leaning state by being just moderate enough to appeal to independent voters. But Perry trumps that because he’s won twice in a state where, in theory, demographics should be favoring Democrats – Texas has a growing Latino population.

Huntsman loses out because his good economic record in Utah pales in comparison to the job creation in Texas. Jon has had trouble establishing a base of support anyway because the establishment prefers Romney and conservatives are distrustful of someone who worked for the Obama administration.

Since the Iowa Straw Poll has a write-in ballot space, it will be interesting to see how much support Rick Perry gets from those who don’t like the other nine choices presented to them. Some who are skipping the Ames gathering will probably pooh-pooh the results regardless of how they do (unless they win, of course) but I suspect the bottom three will find it more difficult as time goes on to make an impact in the race.

Yet the biggest question of all may be whether the last big name candidate will finally decide to jump into the fray. Time is running short for Sarah Palin, as building a grassroots effort takes some planning and we’re just about five months away from the start of primary season – even less time than that to qualify for the ballots.

And fourteen to me seems about four to five too many to be sustainable. If you take the four who didn’t secure a place on the Iowa Straw Poll (Johnson, Karger, Moore, and Roemer) you can probably make a pretty safe bet that the latter two won’t find their way onto a ballot. Gary Johnson will fight on to continue bringing the libertarian small-government argument into the race while Fred Karger will go as far as his status as the lone gay candidate will take him. Neither will come close to winning the nomination but they’ll press on for principle’s sake.

The two odd men out I see among those who made the Iowa Straw Poll ballot are Thad McCotter and Rick Santorum. McCotter should have started his bid much sooner because he doesn’t stand out in a crowded conservative field already dotted with more well-known House members, while Santorum probably can’t shake either the label of “biggest loser” from 2006 or the ill-fated Arlen Specter endorsement two years earlier.

By January I think the field will look like this, in about this order:

  1. Mitt Romney
  2. Sarah Palin
  3. Rick Perry
  4. Michele Bachmann
  5. Ron Paul
  6. Newt Gingrich
  7. Jon Huntsman
  8. Tim Pawlenty
  9. Herman Cain
  10. Gary Johnson
  11. Fred Karger

Crucify me if you must – especially those who like Bachmann and Cain – but once people begin paying attention I think they’ll retreat to the candidates they feel are most safe. I think Bachmann makes a good run but the press is out to destroy her and there’s still enough of an establishment base of Republicans out there to prevent her from winning. Nor would they let a complete political outsider like Herman Cain emerge, either.

Obviously that’s not the order of my preference, either, but I’m sure I occupy a place somewhat to the right of the GOP electorate at large – particularly in several early primary states where the balloting is open to independents as well. I’m sure I’ll be disappointed with the early state primary results like I was in 2008.

But I won’t give up the fight – come on America, I dare you to prove me wrong.

For President 2012: Entitlements

First of all, let me define the parameters of the discussion: to me, entitlements are Social Security, Medicare, Obamacare, and the like. Anytime the government redistributes wealth that wasn’t earned by the recipient, that’s an entitlement – which means Social Security and Medicare do count once the amount originally contributed by the recipient is reached. Thirteen points are at stake this round.

Michele Bachmann has as her “number one priority” to repeal Obamacare, and decries the “entitlement mentality” many Americans have. She advocated “reform” before she got into the Presidential race, and what she said is a pretty good start. I’d like a faster pace myself, but she’s got the right ideas. Seven points.

He starts down the right road, but doesn’t go all the way down it. Moreover, he advocates more tinkering with the tax code and that conflicts with some of his other positions. Nevertheless, Herman Cain has the right ideas about who should be the safety net, though, so I’ll give him nine points.

I have a big problem with some of Newt Gingrich‘s so-called solutions because they begin with the argument that the current Medicare/Medicaid model just needs to be tweaked, with government remaining firmly in control. It’s the replacement of Obamacare he calls for rather than a repeal. I don’t buy it as “fundamental reform.” And this from the guy who got welfare reform passed? His record on Social Security is a start, but doesn’t go far enough. He gets only three points.

Jon Huntsman hints at the idea of using states as laboratories, calls Obamacare ‘top-heavy,’ and likes the Ryan Medicare plan. But I’m troubled that he’s ‘comfortable‘ with a mandate. I’m not sure where he stands on other entitlements, though, so I can only give him five points.

“Responsible entitlement reform” is Gary Johnson‘s mantra. He wants to “revise the terms” of entitlement programs as well. But I thought he’d be more bold than the tinkering around the edges he seems to be advocating – a better step is doing away with Medicare Part D. I’ll give him eight points.

Fred Karger thinks the size of entitlements needs to be on the table. But that’s about all the service he gives to it so I have no idea what else he wants to do. I’ll grant him one point.

There’s a lot to like about the approach that Thad McCotter takes, but he has the same basic flaw Newt Gingrich does – he maintains entitlement programs with some tweaking. If the current systems are “unsustainable” I don’t think making a few fixes (which could be wiped away at any time) is the answer. Only weaning people off dependence is. He’ll get five points.

I like one statement Roy Moore makes: “Churches and charitable organizations should be encouraged to help the needy and poor.” Now, if he has fidelity to the Constitution as he says he does I think he should follow through on eliminating entitlements altogether – please find for me the point in that document where Americans have a right to entitlements. I’m going to give him nine points.

You know, I thought Ron Paul would go farther in health care, But abolishing Social Security – that’s a winner in my book. Let’s hope he hasn’t changed his mind – he gets 12 points.

Tim Pawlenty made some aggressive health care reforms in Minnesota. He also worked to “slow down, limit, or negate Obamacare” while governor. He’s a little more tepid when it comes to Social Security, though, as he favors means testing and perhaps raising the retirement age. While he makes sense at a state level I’m not sure his ideas there will translate nationally. And as for Social Security, that’s not real reform, so I’ll only give him six points.

Like many others, Buddy Roemer will ‘reform’ items within the system rather than change a flawed paradigm. He likes the Ryan Plan, “but it’s not good enough.” I like his idea of the opting out of Medicare option, though, so I’ll bump him up seven points. Maybe we can get Medicare to ‘wither on the vine’ yet.

The problem with Mitt Romney is that this sounds reasonably good but it belies his record as governor of Massachusetts. And I don’t want to reform entitlements, but set ourselves on the path to eliminate them entirely. I’ll give him five points for saying nice things.

Once again, the vision of Rick Santorum is “reform” and not eliminate. He’s absolutely right when he says the entitlement ‘addiction’ is bad for the country, but doesn’t go far enough to end it. We need more like cold turkey for the younger generation – including myself. He gets seven points.

So it’s beginning to look like a two-person race. But notice that Ron Paul has come back into contention, Roy Moore is still hanging close, and Rick Santorum is still a dark horse. The rest are fading farther behind because they don’t have that vision thing about limited government or they wish to limit some of the wrong things.

  • Michele Bachmann – 53 points
  • Herman Cain – 50 points
  • Roy Moore – 46 points
  • Ron Paul – 42 points
  • Rick Santorum – 40 points
  • Thad McCotter – 38 points
  • Newt Gingrich – 33 points
  • Tim Pawlenty – 26 points
  • Buddy Roemer – 26 points
  • Gary Johnson – 24 points
  • Mitt Romney – 23 points
  • Jon Huntsman – 6 points
  • Fred Karger – (-15) points

There’s one word for Barack Obama: Obamacare. That alone is worth the full thirteen point deduction.

“We will run ads talking about, in honest terms the end of entitlements.” That’s what Randall Terry said in January. “All entitlements should be phased out.” I can’t wait to see them, but for me that message is winner, winner, chicken dinner. He gets 12 points, but only because I haven’t seen the actual plan. It puts him ahead of a couple GOP stalwarts; then again, he’s running as a Democrat only to be in Obama’s primary. I bet he’d be in decent shape if he were more forthcoming.

  • Randall Terry – 11 points
  • Barack Obama – (-60) points

We move next to trade and job creation. Most Republicans should score well, but this has some potential to shake up the top contenders – particularly when 14 points are at stake and five players are within that margin (not counting negative totals.)

For President 2012: Energy independence

Now the party of “drill, baby, drill” should make this a slam dunk for 12 points. But you may be surprised to see how this plays out.

She does a nice job of stating the problem, but Michele Bachmann would do well to expand her palette of solutions. Indeed, government needs to get out of the way but maybe I’d like a little more. Her voting record is solid, though, so I’ll give her ten points.

Herman Cain seems to be an advocate for free-market solutions, and that’s precisely what we need. Key among his statements is that private industry needs to take the lead on alternative energy, which shows a good understanding of government’s role. Again, I’d like a little more specifics on the solution, which keeps Cain from hitting all twelve points – he gets eleven.

Newt Gingrich and his “American Energy Plan” is solid, except for one flaw: he wants to use oil and gas royalties to “finance cleaner energy research.” While I like the introduction of “loser pays” on environmental lawsuits into the discussion, the idea that we should give research grants out like candy and pick winners and losers via government rubs me the wrong way. But because of his commercial with Nancy Pelosi, he gets seven points.

Until we put a value on carbon, we’re never going to be able to get serious with dealing with climate change longer term.” Uh, no, Jon Huntsman. First of all, mankind has little to do with climate change and second of all carbon credits are just a scam for wealth redistribution. If you really believe this – and past history suggests you do – then you’re not the man for the job. I’m taking off all 12 points.

Gary Johnson has a mixed bag, as he placed his imprimatur on items which would suggest he’s a believer in government incentives for “green” energy but also Tweeted his opinions that we should drill in ANWR and can help our energy cause by drilling domestically. I’ll give him five points.

What Fred Karger doesn’t seem to understand is that forced conservation of energy is counterproductive to a growing economy. Certainly looking for ways to get more done with less energy usage is a good thing, but mandating reductions isn’t practical for growth. If someone needs to explore alternative energy, let it be the private sector (see Herman Cain above.) He loses another six points.

I suppose my biggest question for Thad McCotter is how do we “responsibly transition from fossil fuels to alternative energy” when those methods are nowhere near ready for prime time? Well, he wants to use the tried-and-true big government trick of tax credits and deductions, which rubs me the wrong way. Add in a vote for “Cash for Clunkers” and I think he may have been seduced by Washington’s ways on this issue. He gets just five points, a big disappointment.

“We need independence from foreign oil by freeing access to our own natural resources and developing other sources such as nuclear, solar, wind, and fossil fuels. Coal and oil supplies should be developed. Off-shore drilling should be increased but subject to reasonable regulations.” That’s the extent of Roy Moore‘s views on energy. It’s the problem with having no legislative record to back things up – I have no definition of things like “reasonable regulation.” And I’m troubled that he equates unproven pieces of the puzzle like solar and wind with items we use now. So I can only give him five points as well.

Like Gingrich above, Ron Paul has an energy policy I can agree with aside from one glaring exception. In Paul’s case, it’s those tax credits for purchase and production of alternative energy technologies, which belie the case he states that, “(t)he free market – not government – is the solution to America’s energy needs.” And his voting record is spotty because Ron skipped a lot of key votes. But since the rest of the ideas are sound and he didn’t make a commercial with San Fran Nan, I’ll give him nine points.

Tim Pawlenty doesn’t address energy independence on his issues page, and perhaps this is why. Maybe he thought it necessary to address the issue to keep his job in a liberal-leaning state, but then he doubled down and doomed Minnesota ratepayers by adopting a 25% renewable energy portfolio (even more than Maryland’s and you see where our rates are headed.) I don’t know if his recent change of heart is sincere, so I’m taking off five points.

“No more subsidies.” That’s at the heart of Buddy Roemer‘s energy remarks. And while it sounds like he’s foursquare for more drilling (after all, he comes from an oil state) I worry about the tariff on Middle Eastern oil he’s proposing because that sets a bad precedent. So I’m only giving him three points.

Mitt Romney shrewdly addresses energy independence in his “job creation” category. But terms like “government must be a partner,” “facilitate,” and “address market failures” don’t convince he wants a conservative, small-government solution. We see what kind of “partner” government has become, and it’s not government’s job to interfere with the market. And believing climate change is caused by mankind is a nonstarter. I’m deducting three points.

Rick Santorum, like Romney, sees energy independence as a job creation issue. But he favors the “all of the above” approach generally held by Republicans and correctly states we should “put aside our dreams of ‘green jobs.’” The voting record isn’t bad, although I do object to one vote in particular. So I’ll grant him seven points.

Now I’m past the halfway point, as I’ve awarded 55 points so far. With entitlement, job creation, and taxation among my remaining issues it’s doubtful that many of the bottomfeeders have a shot – I figure my endorsee is likely at or above the 30 point mark right now. Looks like a race between Bachmann and Cain, but we’ll see.

  • Michele Bachmann – 46 points
  • Herman Cain – 41 points
  • Roy Moore – 37 points
  • Thad McCotter – 33 points
  • Rick Santorum – 33 points
  • Newt Gingrich – 30 points
  • Ron Paul – 30 points
  • Tim Pawlenty – 20 points
  • Buddy Roemer – 19 points
  • Mitt Romney – 18 points
  • Gary Johnson – 16 points
  • Jon Huntsman – 1 point
  • Fred Karger – (-16) points

Needless to say, Barack Obama‘s energy record is miserable. Even when he showed a few cajones and loosened oil drilling regulations, he relented after a once-in-a-lifetime accident. Of course, he loses all twelve points.

Randall Terry is, once again, silent on the issue. The problem with his approach is that Democrats who don’t like Obama may just stay home rather than vote for him as a message.

  • Randall Terry – (-1) point
  • Barack Obama – (-47) points

The next category should be interesting because there are a plethora of views on entitlements, so that may spread the field out a little bit more – and perhaps trip up a leading contender.

For President 2012: Immigration

Here we should start separating the men from the boys (or the women from the girls, to be fair.) Eleven points are at stake and as most know I’m pretty much a hardliner on the subject.

She has the right idea about securing the borders on her campaign site, but Michele Bachmann goes no further as to how. Enforcement of existing law would be a good start, though. The anti-immigration group Numbers USA ranks her highest among GOP candidates, and while I don’t completely agree with their overall stance on the issue it’s a good indicator she’ll do what’s right for Americans. Ten points.

Similarly, Herman Cain promises to “secure our borders, enforce our laws, and promote the existing path to citizenship.” That’s all well and good, but more detail would be good. Helping his cause is that he stood foursquare against amnesty. I think he’ll get nine points.

It’s telling that, aside from the usual mantra of “secure our borders,” Newt Gingrich doesn’t talk about immigration on his campaign site. Maybe it’s because he’s pandering to the so-called Latino vote? I can only give him two points, and that’s in part credit for some past votes. He may think differently now.

Normally I’m a pretty good state’s rights guy, but should we push border security onto the states as Jon Huntsman advocates? The problem with that is California’s version of a “secure” border may not be as tight as Arizona’s. Nor does he address what to do with the illegals who are here; perhaps because he supports the DREAM Act. I’m deducting three points.

I think Gary Johnson‘s immigration approach is naïve, and the idea of any sort of grace period for illegal immigrants rubs me the wrong way. What saves him are some of his ideas about legalizing immigration eventually, such as “one strike, you’re out” – problem is too many already have that strike against them. I’ll call it a wash and keep his point total where it is.

Fred Karger joins the chorus calling for “greatly improved border security” but also advocates “a path to citizenship for immigrants already living in the country.” Smells like amnesty to me, so it’s back in the hole again as I take three points off.

Couched in somewhat soothing language, the approach Thad McCotter takes seems to be pretty sensible. My biggest objection is his caution not to “stigmatize” illegal immigrants – why not? They are flouting the law. His voting record assuages me somewhat, but I’m afraid he may get squishy when push comes to shove. So I’m only giving him five points.

Roy Moore has a somewhat similar view to that of Jon Huntsman in that he would “allow” states to take the lead in border security. But he has a moral position on the issue as well, and I think he would be just fine on the issue because I take it he has a security “floor” in mind which states can exceed if they wish. I’ll give him seven points.

At last, Ron Paul has a decent issues page which includes immigration. And it’s odd because Numbers USA gives him poor marks yet what he says on his page makes some sense, and it’s borne out by his voting record. So I’ll give him six points.

It’s odd that Tim Pawlenty doesn’t devote space to his stance on immigration, particularly when it’s reasonably good per the standards of Numbers USA. Just based on what they say and not having a lot to go on, I think I can safely give him six points.

This video gives a pretty good summary of Buddy Roemer‘s viewpoint. There’s a lot to like, although it’s still a bit short on specifics. He gives the Chamber of Commerce some necessary criticism as well. I think six points is fair.

While Mitt Romney doesn’t address the issue directly on his website, this “unofficial” website makes him look downright hawkish. It’s mainly based on his 2008 statements, but I don’t think he’s flipped much on this. It’s his strongest area so far, and he’ll get nine points.

Rick Santorum also ignores the issue on his website, but his impassioned plea against amnesty in 2006 should count for something. I’ll count it as five points.

As predicted, the field is beginning to spread out. While it’s not impossible for someone outside the top six or so to catch up it’s starting to look like I’m going against conventional wisdom. So what else is new?

  • Michele Bachmann – 36 points
  • Roy Moore – 32 points
  • Herman Cain – 30 points
  • Thad McCotter – 28 points
  • Rick Santorum – 26 points
  • Tim Pawlenty – 25 points
  • Newt Gingrich – 23 points
  • Ron Paul – 21 points
  • Mitt Romney – 21 points
  • Buddy Roemer – 16 points
  • Jon Huntsman – 13 points
  • Gary Johnson – 11 points
  • Fred Karger – (-10) points

Meanwhile, on the other side:

While he’s supposedly cracked down on the worst illegal immigrants, Barack Obama is trying to sneak the DREAM Act through and has done little to secure the borders. He loses another seven points.

Meanwhile, the one-note samba that is Randall Terry says nothing about immigration.

  • Randall Terry – (-1) points
  • Barack Obama – (-35) points