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Ranking the Republican candidates

November 10, 2007

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Giuliani starts to pull away from the pack. There is still value in Thompson and McCain (and a punt on Huckabee might be a good idea).

The race is still as murky as ever. Giuliani has a clear lead nationally, but there is considerable value in Fred Thompson and still some value left in John McCain. It should also be noted that I have decided to update these rankings fortnightly from now on.

Rudolph Giuliani – Giuliani still leads in the national polls and has a strong position in both Iowa and New Hampshire. It’s impossible to describe the Robertson endorsement as anything other than a major boost and the crisis in Pakistan can only help a candidate whose perceived strong point is national security. It’s amazing to think that Giuliani could wrap up the nomination in January by getting into the top two in Iowa. The only cloud on the horizon is the Bernard Kerik scandal. Estimated chances of winning the nomination are around 45%. Price on Intrade.com 42-43. FAIRLY PRICED

Fred Thompson – His campaign continues to drift downward due to the perception that he less than fully committed to it. At the same time his reliance on free media, which was a necessity when he hadn’t announced, has ultimately prove unwise. Thompson needs to put in some time on the campaign trail in Iowa and New Hampshire. The fact that he is beginning to air some adverts on television will be reassuring for his supporters and he still remains second in the national Rasmussen poll. Chances of winning the nomination are about 20%. Price on Intrade.com 5.9-6. UNDERPRICED

John McCain – McCain may be doing better in the national polls, but as Joe Lieberman found out in 2004, being in a ‘three way tie for third’ is nowhere near enough. It is also imperative that he pulls ahead of Giuliani in Iowa. As I have been saying for the last three months, McCain needs to remind the centre why it supported him eight years ago. His opposition to the adverts run on his behalf by an advocacy group demonstrates his honourable character, though that could very quickly turn to cynicism unless he makes another gesture emphasising his opposition to the ads, even if that means returning donations and/or firing staff. Estimated chances of winning the nomination are around 15%. Price on Intrade.com 6.7-6.8 UNDERPRICED

Mitt Romney – Romney is still ahead in Iowa and New Hampshire so it would be silly to completely write him off. Romney also has a large amount of money, so he doesn’t have the financial worries that other candidates will have. However, Romney’s chances of winning the nomination are about 10% because I believe that a poor result in Iowa, will really reduce his momentum. Endorsements aside, I believe that Romney’s support in Iowa will start to decline once Thompson starts airing ads in Iowa and Huckabee gets Dobson’s endorsement. Estimated chances of winning the nomination are about 10% Chances of the Price on Intrade.com 29.4-29.9. OVERPRICED

5. Mike Huckabee – Like McCain in 2000, Huckabee is the classic demonstration that an effective grassroots campaign that relies on early state momentum and time spent on the stump works. I still believe that Huckbee’s stances on taxation and foreign policy are his Achilles heels and that it is difficult to see him doing well in New Hampshire. However, he has a decent shot a winning Iowa. Indeed, I could imagine Huckabee becoming the Howard Dean of 2008, which might make him a good bet if you can find a ‘greater fool’ to lay it off to when his price surges. His chances of winning the nomination are 10%. Price on Intrade.com 5.4-6.3. UNDERPRICED

6. Anyone else – I have put some money on Mark Sanford, Haley Barbour and New Gingrich as a hedge against one of the frontrunners being felled by a major scandal. However, the rumours of a sex scandal involving one of the major candidates have turned out to be just that – idle gossip. STILL AVOID.

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