The Note: The 2008 Invisible Primary Ratings


Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) sit atop their respective fields for the 2008 presidential nominations, according to the debut installment of the ABC News 2008 Invisible Primary Ratings.

Let us move briefly to get the vital history out of the way: 1) No Senator has been elected President of these United States since John F. Kennedy in 1960.

2) 2008 will mark the first presidential election since 1928 in which neither the sitting president nor vice president is running for the job -- creating a wide open contest.

Well, at least wide open enough for a candidate to position himself as the alternative-of-choice to one of the frontrunners.

The Invisible Primary refers to the jockeying for supremacy in the contests to be positioned to be the major party presidential nominees between now and start of the actual caucus and primary voting. Historically, winning the Invisible Primary does not guarantee a candidate a party nomination, but it sure helps.

In our inaugural Invisible Primary Ratings of the 2004 cycle (published in the first quarter of 2002), Sen. John Kerry was ranked first and Sen. John Edwards second with 3.05 and 3.2 scores, respectively. Those two men, of course, went on to be the last two Democrats standing in the race for their party's presidential nomination before Kerry selected Edwards as his running mate.

This time, the Warner media boomlet, the Huckabee travel schedule, the Romney/Boston Globe relationship, the Kerry e-mail list, the Giuliani mystery, the Allen biography, the Feingold maverick-dom, the Biden "straight talk," the reemergence of Newt, the Frist frustration, and much more have all been taken into account.

And/but the money potential, national political experience, and name identification status make Sen. McCain and Sen. Clinton the 800-pound elephant and donkey in the room impossible to ignore.

Here are the top-line numbers, followed by the explanations and the breakdown. Remember: These ratings measure the chances of winning party nominations, not of winning the White House.

ABC VOTE 2008: INVISIBLE PRIMARY RATINGS: (The closer the rating is to 1.0, the better chance of securing the nomination.)

Invisible Primary Ratings
Potential Candidates
John McCain 1.42
George Allen 3.58
Mitt Romney 4.05
Rudy Giuliani 4.63
Mike Huckabee 5.53
Newt Gingrich 6.11
Bill Frist 6.16
George Pataki 7.00
Chuck Hagel 7.89
Sam Brownback 8.26
Tom Tancredo 10.58

Invisible Primary Ratings
Potential Candidates
Hillary Clinton 1.74
John Edwards 2.89
Mark Warner 4.00
John Kerry 5.68
Tom Vilsack 5.95
Evan Bayh 5.95
Bill Richardson 6.58
Joe Biden 6.68
Wesley Clark 7.47
Tom Daschle 7.63
Russ Feingold 8.42

The ratings reflect a sense of who has "juice" -- a demonstrated ability to elicit favorable attention from critical sectors of the political world, including activists, major fundraisers, and member of the news media who are paying minute daily attention to what has become the earliest and most intense presidential campaign ever at this stage.

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