Finding the elephant for this race

Tom Nardi

Same story, just a different spin. This week I will handicap the 2008 Republican primary to complement my analysis of the Democratic field from a few weeks ago. And, to reassure all you math majors out there, this time my odds won’t have a 40 percent chance of nothing happening.

The Best

John McCain (senator, Ariz.)

With such high concern over national security, this election has become the year of Senators, with nearly all the Democratic candidates being senators. McCain is the Republican part of that movement. He, like Rudy Giuliani, is the darling of the masses. He has assumed the role of the maverick politician, one who can rise above the petty, partisan fray. The only thing is that his record doesn’t support that at all. According to, his record in the 109th Congress was the second most conservative, placing him firmly ahead of conservative stalwarts like Rick Santorum and Sam Brownback. What is more interesting is his flip in recent years. He was a maverick in the 107th Congress, but now he cozies up to the likes of Jerry Falwell. What’s the deal?

Chances: 7:3

Mitt Romney (frmr. governor, Mass.)

Styling himself as a dyed-in-the-wool Reagan Republican, Romney is quickly becoming the candidate of choice for social conservatives who won’t vote for McCain or Giuliani. The only problem is that Romney was a liberal Republican until about five minutes ago. Let me give you an example. While running for Senate in 1994 against Ted Kennedy – needless to say Romney lost – he told a touching story about how his brother-in-law’s sister died during a botched, illegal abortion. That, he said, made up his mind on the abortion debate: abortions should be safe, legal and rare. Now, that’s all well and good, but, for the sake of political expediency, Romney sold his relation’s memory up the river. How will that play in Peoria?

Chances: 7:3

Rudy Giuliani (frmr. mayor, NYC)

“America’s Mayor” appears to be the Republican front-runner. However, it appears he entered the wrong primary. In almost all social aspects, Giuliani is a liberal Democrat; he is pro-choice, pro-gay rights, pro-stem cell research, etc. So while he seems like a good general election candidate, he might have a hard time getting out of the primaries where the right-wing partisans dominate. He faces a situation similar to Dubya – far fewer people liked him on Sept. 10 than did on Sept. 12, 2001. And there are questions as to whether he actually led after Sept. 11 or if he just looked good on TV. Plus, he has many not-conservative-friendly skeletons in his closet (see: adultery, divorce). He already lost to Hillary once because of it.

Chances: 4:1

The Rest

Sam Brownback (senator, Kan.)

The true conservative in the race, Santorum converted this guy to Catholicism from evangelical Protestantism. During a Senate debate, Brownback actually held up a poster drawn by a 7-year-old girl to make a point about embryonic stem cell research. His point was that embryos are people, too (ignoring the fact that the embryos in question were and are those marked for destruction as the remnants of in-vitro fertilization). So, his conservative credentials really are unimpeachable. But he is the junior senator from Kansas. Who wants him to be president?

Chances: 9:1

Mike Huckabee (former governor, Ark.)

Huckabee’s biggest accomplishment to date is either that he instituted obesity report cards in Arkansas’ public schools or that he himself lost over 200 pounds. How either relates to governing a country is unknown. But he is conservative enough to have a real chance if Romney’s bid falls through.

Chances: 19:1

And for those observant mathematicians, there is 5 percent left. That accounts for any surprise entrances to the race or people with little name recognition that are in now, like Duncan Hunter. But any Republicans not declared by now, Jeb Bush and Newt Gingrich specifically, have little chance to win because of excess baggage. Who wants a third Bush?


Tom Nardi is a junior political science major from Philadelphia, Pa. He can be reached at [email protected].