Note: They typically update the two parties on alternating weeks. They'll do the Democrats next week. I'm not posting their latest one since it's over a month old, but you can find it here
White House 2008 rankings: The Republicans
A bi-weekly rating of the presidential candidates
Updated: 1:38 p.m. CT Sept 11, 2007
WASHINGTON - We're back after what was, as usual, a politically eventful August. We're starting our weekly presidential rankings with the Republicans and will alternate weekly until... well, until we think we ought to rank both sides more frequently. Right now, both primary campaigns change like aircraft carriers, so every two weeks makes the most sense for each side.
In all seriousness, though, isn't it time everyone ranked six and below here called it quits? It's over; these second- and third-tier candidates gave it a good go in the first eight months of this year, but it's not happening. Is there really an Appalachian State in here that we're overlooking? We don't think so.
Note: Democrats and Republican rankings will be updated on alternating weeks. Click here for the latest Democratic rankings.
These rankings are ordered by likelihood of winning the Republican Party primary and are based on a number of factors, including organization, money, buzz and polling.
1. Rudy Giuliani
Former New York City mayor Last Ranking: 1
One half of your rankings team will have a column later this week (check your local MSNBC listings!) that argues Giuliani is actually in a stronger position than Clinton. The calendar is a problem for Clinton, but it's turned into an asset for Giuliani. He has his expectations bar in a great place right now in Iowa and New Hampshire, where second-place finishes will be "victories." Also, he has a delegate path that could get him the lead before Feb. 5 (thank you, Florida), when momentum will be everything. We still want to see how he handles sustained negative attacks. In fact, we're surprised by how little Giuliani has come under attack. He's been allowed to "live" too long by his foes, and now they are going to see how hard it will be to knock Rudy off his front-runner perch.
2. Mitt Romney
Former Massachusetts governor Last Ranking: 2
So what's Act 2? The campaign seems to be getting its "winning Iowa, winning New Hampshire" momentum now, meaning Romney needs to prepare to have his actual victories in these states overlooked a bit. Is that fair? No, but it may be the reality he's living in. He ought to be glad that South Carolina is looking like the best place for him to prove his mettle, rather than a state like Florida. But the big worry for the campaign has to be the entire field ganging up on him. Is Romney to the GOP establishment what Howard Dean was to the Democrats? The way Dem forces combined to destroy Dean in Iowa, will GOP forces do the same? The level of venom the field has collectively for Romney has surprised us. He needs to change that tone or discredit more of his challengers.
3. Fred Thompson
Former Tennessee senator Last Ranking: 3
You know that exhausted feeling you get sitting on the runway, wondering if the pilot is going to go back to the gate? And then the flight takes off, and you have that sense of relief mixed with anger? That's what we're sensing from the conservative grassroots regarding Thompson's entrance. It may have taken a while, but the campaign team that's FINALLY in place is good and very capable of pulling this off; he has no more organizational excuses. He's the comforting choice that conservatives can park themselves with should the Romney or Giuliani campaigns prove to be bridges too far. But running to be everyone's second choice (which we sense Thompson doing) usually means that you aren't in control of your own chances. Thompson doesn't win this nomination without Rudy and Romney both self-destructing. Possible? Yes, but it's starting to look less likely.
4. John McCain
Arizona senator Last Ranking: 4
McCain and Huckabee are running similar campaigns. They hope their "straight talk" or "aw, shucks" personalities take them further than the scraps of money both have raised. The two are also becoming the superior debaters in the field. Both are positioned to be players in this fight. Realistically, both seem well-poised to be on the VP short list, at a minimum. And the two also have one other thing in common: a mutual disrespect for Romney. Could these two borderline first/second-tier candidates be the one-two punch that catapults either Giuliani or Thompson in a potential one-on-one with Romney?
4. Mike Huckabee
Former Arkansas governor Last Ranking: 7
6. Sam Brownback
Kansas senator Last Ranking: 5
We're surprised Brownback's still in the race after he went (nearly) all in trying to finish second at the Ames Straw poll. There was always going to be room for either Brownback or Huckabee in the top tier. Huckabee made it mostly because of charisma; he just has more of it than Brownback. Huckabee could sell a pig a pork sandwich. Brownback doesn't have that "it" thing.
7. Ron Paul
Texas congressman Last Ranking: 6
Up until the last debate, Paul was the charming, though ideologically odd, gadfly candidate. But he turned very angry in that last debate and we're starting to wonder if his schtick is wearing thin. Still, some Republicans are worried about Paul jumping ship and going third party, siphoning enough votes in places that like their libertarians (think those Rocky Mountain states) to toss the election to the Democrats. So don't be surprised if Paul gets some kid-glove treatment by the GOP establishment.
8. Tom Tancredo
Colorado Congressman Last Ranking: 8
His Pat Buchanan impersonation is still weak, and since all of the top-tier candidates (sans McCain) are adopting Tancredo's immigration rhetoric, the Colorado congressman ought to declare "mission accomplished" and go work on getting elected to the U.S. Senate in Colorado (or maybe simply make sure he can still get re-elected).
9. Duncan Hunter
California Congressman Last Ranking: 10
We're pretty sure he's gathered up a big enough donor list to hand to his son, who's running for daddy's San Diego House seat.
10. Alan Keyes
Former asst. secretary of state Last Ranking: --
You do realize Keyes paid the $5K filing fee for the West Virginia GOP Internet primary, right? Remember when Keyes was the Internet voting darling in '96 and '00? Could he finally have found a venue to win a few delegates? Could it be he's finally making sense?
Copyright 2007 by National Journal Group Inc.