I recently said that I was looking very strongly at Fred Thompson. There's a lot to like about Fred. His positions are outstanding. But as much as I admire a person's words, it comes down to the ability to execute, and I have to say that Mitt trounces Fred big time in ability to execute. Runs rings around the guy without even breaking a sweat.
So after much consideration, I'm firmly with Mitt. I think regardless of what happens, he'll go the distance and execute well. Now that he has Tancredo's stamp of approval, Mitt has gained more oomph against Huckabee's love of illegal immigrants. I expect Tancredo to campaign hard in support of Romney. Tancredo hates Huckabee's stance on immigration and will fight to make sure he loses.
(By the way, I appreciate Huckabee in the sense that the competition will make Mitt stronger. That said, I also expect that Huckabee believes he has been destinied for the presidency by God, so I expect his deep consideration for a third-party run if he doesn't get the Republican nod. More on that in bit...)
I might be wrong, but here's how my prediction for the Iowa caucus on January 3rd shakes out:
Obama and Romney finish first in very tight races.
Clinton and Huckabee finish second.
Edwards and Thompson finish third.
I almost put Paul finishing third, but while his support is stratospheric in terms of passion, he just doesn't generate broad appeal. So serve him up as a wildcard for the night, but no higher than third.
In New Hampshire's primaries, I expect Romney to hold the lead and eke out a win. His organization will prove better and churn out the turnout. McCain will finish second. Huckabee will finish third.
Democrats in New Hampshire? It's a toss-up for Clinton and Obama, with John Edwards a distant third.
South Carolina gets interesting, and harder to predict. But if I'm right in these first two early states, I expect a lot of fallout happening for the third tier candidates, and this is where we see Duncan Hunter fall out and support Romney. Giuliani will be rumored to be considering throwing his support to someone, but will say it isn't so quite yet. He'll end up supporting Romney or McCain after not winning one state primary. Huckabee's support will fade a bit, but he'll still win South Carolina. Romney in a strong second. McCain in third. McCain will then fall out and support Romney.
Democrats in South Carolina: Chris Dodd falls out and endorses Clinton. Joe Biden falls out and endorses Clinton. Bill Richardson falls out and endorses Clinton, and Hillary wins South Carolina easily. Obama second. Edwards third. Hillary gets her mantle of "inevitability" back.
Ultimately, it's going to come down to the best organization on the ground. This is where Romney has an edge. If Thompson had the organization, he'd have a chance, but it just isn't there - he never executed to achieve one. McCain doesn't have a strong organization anywhere. Giuliani either...
And while Clinton has an edge here with organization, Obama will give her a run for her money, but lose when it's all said and done.
The Christian Right will court the hell out of Huckabee to run third party because they hate Romney's faith. Here's where we measure Huck's ego. And this is where Huckabee negotiates hard with Romney behind the scenes. I have no idea how that will turn out, but I think at least 50% of the Christian Right vote to follow Huckabee, wherever that leads, be it third party or backing Romney.
I expect Romney to choose Sarah Palin for VP, a very successful evangelical Christian who is also the very conservative governor of Alaska. That will cement his conservative credentials, bring a strong woman to his team, and help heal any rift with evangelical Christians.
And I expect that Bill Clinton will overpower Hillary as he increases his desire to win her the election. He's starting it now. That machismo, on his part, will lose her the election. Doesn't really matter who her VP is. Bill is the co-president and can't help but drive from the back seat of the bus, no matter how far back you put him.
And that will be that. President Romney and Vice-President Palin, our first woman vice-president.
Of course, I could be completely full of it. But this is my last post about politics until the general election starts, so I thought I would put all of my thoughts out there.