Following the first debates of the Presidential season, a season that will encompass three Friedman Units, it is time to update my handicapping. In the immortal words of Tom and Ray Magliozzi, I shall do this "unencumbered by the thought process." I didn't bother watching either of the debates.
Dog and Pony Shows held this early serve limited purposes. They prove that the candidates are not fictional characters but actually exist (hence the absence of Fred Thompson who is a fictional character), they allow those people who have already made up their minds to declare that their candidate won while his main opponents were drooling idiots, and they give people like Chris Matthews an excuse to draw a paycheck.
The President Race - Republicans
As before, I'll be offering my odds and, for comparison, in red the odds calculated by the Intrade Trading Exchange.
Fred Thompson (actor-TN) 5 to 1 (5 to 1)
Several fans are saying that, by not being there, Fred Thompson won the Republican debate. Thompson has a huge advantage that he is not any of the other candidates but I doubt he really wants the gig. Thompson is like the girl with a full leg cast at her high school prom - she doesn't want to dance but she does want to be asked. I think his ego will force him to run while his id will be scared shitless about winning.
Mitt Romney (former gov-MA) - 7 to 1 (5 to 1)
He hasn't been able to break out of the Morman-candidate definition. His fundraising is heavily Morman sourced and people have noticed. He has the most money and he hasn't been able to garner any new support for months. His boat is still floating but it is dead in the water.
Rudy Giulianitm (former mayor of New York) - 10 to 1 (2 to 1)
His lead in the polls is dropping, from the low-40's in March to the mid-30 percent range today. SurveyUSA did a snap poll and declared Giuliani winner of the debate. Most commentators thought he lost it. Why the disconnect? Because debates this early are meaningless noise. However, Mayor Rudy is showing vulnerability he didn't have a couple of months ago. To continue the metaphor, Giuliani's fancy yacht is still in front, but it has sprung a leak.
St. John McCain (Sen-AZ) - 15 to 1 (4 to 1)
He has had his Macaca moment when he sang "Bomb Bomb Iran" recently. He is trying to disarm the moment by incorporating the song "Barbara Ann" into his campaign events. Sort of a "you can't embarrass me, I'm proud I forgot my pants" concept. His fundraising sucks. The McCain campaign is like Johnny Depp in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, standing proudly on the mast of a dingy that has sunk up to its yardarm.
Newt Gingrich (former congressman-GA) - 40 to 1 (35 to 1)
His breakout moment has come and gone without ever happening. Fred Thompson is the new Newt, without the baggage or, frankly, the intelligence.
Mike Huckabee (former gov-AR) - 50 to 1 (40 to 1)
Keeps hanging in there, which surprises me. If stick-to-it-iveness matters more than money and endorsements, he has a chance. It doesn't.
Duncan Hunter (congressman-CA) - 1000 to 1 (1000 to 1)
Duncan intents to turn his congressional seat over to his son, like a hereditary title. Nobody knows anything about Duncan Jr. and nobody will. The plan is to keep him invisible, place the name Duncan Hunter on the ballot, and let inertia take over. I've said that Duncan will continued to be elected in his district long after he was dead. Looks like I'm right.