Oddly, Romney seems both the strongest and yet the most vulnerable of the current crop of potential candidates. He scores well with the GOP's withering establishment base, but once again seems challenged in igniting support among more conservative and independent-leaning Republicans. His best bet at capturing the nomination is to take the mountain of money he will raise and use it to persuade voters that he is the most electable of the GOP field. If he can pull that off without appearing too silk-stockingish, this could be his election to lose.
As for the success of both Bachmann and Cain, can you say "tea party"? I have continually argued that the tea party is very much a political state of mind that goes well beyond any organized group. Just as there existed a large portion of disaffected voters who swarmed to Barack Obama in 2008, wanting any kind of change he could offer as banks melted down, troops died and personal finances were starting to look dim, so too do they exist in this race.
But now they don't particularly care for President Obama's style of change. Yet they are tired of professional politicians who bounce around on issues that the tea partiers feel very firm about. Those include a massive overhaul of entitlements and a radical change in our system of taxation.
So, this could be the year that a fresh face storms the GOP and wins the nomination, or this could be -- with apologies to my colleague at the national law firm of McKenna Long & Aldridge, Howard Dean -- a long-lasting, but ultimately futile flash-in-the-pan performance by upstart candidates.
One thing I know for sure: A huge hunk of potential GOP voters say they are undecided. And that 25 percent-plus of the vote will decide who the Republicans nominate in 2012.
Matt Towery is author of the book, "Paranoid Nation: The Real Story of the 2008 Fight for the Presidency." He heads the polling and political information firm InsiderAdvantage. To find out more about Matt Towery and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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