ABC News Political Unit's 2008 Presidential Invisible Primary Ratings, Vol. 1

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Although Bill Clinton and George Bush made presidential politics a safe venue for discourse on certain crossover issues (the death penalty, welfare reform, balanced budgets, education, immigration etc.), party orthodoxies still exist, of which candidates' past "votes and quotes" and present positions can run afoul. Also, as voters' priorities change in the face of bigger, non-political events like, say, a war or a recession, which candidates are helped, and which are hurt? And where do the candidates fall on the intraparty wedge issues? Is the candidate a member of the "close our borders" caucus? The "get out of Iraq" caucus? Remember: It's more important to have a rationale than detailed issue positions. (And if you don't know the difference, you shouldn't run for president.)

Rationale/Issues/Record
  Republicans
Potential Candidates
John McCain 1
Newt Gingrich 2
Mitt Romney 3
Bill Frist 4
Mike Huckabee 5
George Allen 6
Sam Brownback 7
Rudy Giuliani 8
Chuck Hagel 8
George Pataki 10
Tom Tancredo 11

Rationale/Issues/Record
  Democrats
Potential Candidates
Hillary Clinton 1
John Edwards 2
Mark Warner 3
Tom Vilsack 4
Evan Bayh 5
John Kerry 6
Joe Biden 7
Bill Richardson 8
Russ Feingold 9
Wesley Clark 10
Tom Daschle 10

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Biography and Spouse: We have learned time and again that biography is not necessarily destiny in presidential politics.

But a good personal narrative (college football player, orphan, son of a mill worker, war hero, and life-saving physician) frames marketable character traits that do much more good than harm. This is especially true in the early voting states when voters are feeling the candidates out in living rooms and coffee shops. Vietnam veterans John McCain and John Kerry introduced the presidential candidate versions of themselves through the biographical lens and it no doubt helped their prospects to some degree. However, John Kerry also learned that if you "live" by biography, you may also "die" by biography.

The candidate's spouse usually has far less of an impact than the mainstream media intimates, unless, of course, that spouse is Bill Clinton. However, you need look no farther than the 2004 general election candidates (and the internal polling from the Bush and Kerry campaigns) to see an example when the spouse can make a ton of difference both externally to the larger American audience and within the campaign operation.

Biography and Spouse
  Republicans
Potential Candidates
John McCain 1
Rudy Giuliani 2
Bill Frist 3
Mitt Romney 4
Mike Huckabee 5
George Allen 6
Chuck Hagel 7
George Pataki 8
Sam Brownback 9
Newt Gingrich 10
Tom Tancredo 11

Biography and Spouse
  Democrats
Potential Candidates
Hillary Clinton 1
John Edwards 2
Tom Vilsack 3
Wesley Clark 4
Evan Bayh 5
Mark Warner 5
John Kerry 7
Joe Biden 8
Bill Richardson 9
Russ Feingold 10
Tom Daschle 11

Back to the Top

Iowa: Although the Democratic National Committee is expected to allow other states to hold their contests earlier this cycle, the smart money says Iowa's caucuses and New Hampshire's primary will retain the lion's share of their dominance of the nominating calendar (as they will for the Republicans as well), holding a disproportionate influence (given their meager number of delegates at stake) on the determination of the nominee.

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