I expect when things to shake out for this to be a three, maybe four way race in the primary. Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Jon Huntsman, and possibly Michele Bachmann. Ron Paul will likely get his 5-10% with varied support for Herman Cain, Thad McCotter, Newt Gingrich, and Gary Johnson. I don't expect Sarah Palin to jump in, but I don't see her getting the nomination based on a "Can't win" worry.
Romney, Perry, and Huntsman I think are the "frontrunners." I think any of those three could win the nomination. I think of those three, two of them are very electable in the general election. Perry and Huntsman. Romney I think is less electable unless Obama beats himself.
Unless Perry drops out, I will probably not be voting for Bachmann, Cain, Paul, Newt, Johnson, Santorum, or Palin (if she runs) based on chances of winning in the general election. I protest voted in the 08 election because of Rudy McRomneyabee. I don't regret it. There's different dynamics this time.
I don't care for Romney, but he's got money and organizational skills. His organizational skills are elite. Those two things alone give him a chance. He is a former governor for one term, and has a venture capitalist background. He was the establishment favorite in 2008 and is their favorite once again this year. Working against him (I think) this time is that there's no McCain. That's hurting him with conservatives who preferred him to McCain. Huntsman may play a factor in this later on though. Despite polls, I don't think Romney is electable unless Obama beats himself. That's due to his constant shifting in positions over and over again, as well as his pandering. Where does he stand after Romneycare? Social issues, especially his shift on life issues and a consistently anti-gun record, are a factor to a degree, but Romneycare is his biggest issue, followed by the voting against it after voting for it types of shifts. Jobs is the other. His jobs record in Massachusetts isn't that stellar, and it needs to be in order to compete with Obama. His biggest weakness though isn't his views. It's his constant changing of views. There's too much John Kerry in him, although at least Romney isn't a traitor like Kerry was in his 72 senate speech. I'd probably cave if he's the nominee, but I'd really be holding my nose.
Speaking of Huntsman. Why would I support Huntsman over Romney? It's the economy stupid. Utah has been one of the brighter spots with the economy in recent years. Huntsman only had one term as governor, but there was stronger economic growth in Utah than many other places in the country. Was he responsible for all of it? No, but he didn't screw things up, although there is one major issue I have with economic issues of his that is a dealbreaker with me for any primary vote. Cap and trade. He supports it for global warming. As someone with family in the auto industry and supportive of manufacturing, that's a dealbreaker. I'm not sold on man-made global warming because A. Every study I've seen is based on an 150 year study or so, which is a drop in the bucket in earth years unless you are a young earth creationist (I'm not) or B. I'm not sold that global warming is a bad thing. Even if it is bad, how is cap and trade going to fix it? The other thing about Huntsman - good and bad - is that he's a technocrat.
Huntsman has a record of being pro-life as far as I know, but my guard is up a bit. Is he for embryo research? I'd trust him over Romney on this issue though. He is for civil unions. I oppose those and would rather have government get out of marriage altogether. That's not a dealbreak for me, but cap and trade is. However, I do think Huntsman is electable in a general election if he is the nominee. I also think you'll see a lot more from him as it gets closer to New Hampshire and Iowa. What separates Huntsman from Romney is that with Huntsman, you have a good idea what you're going to get. A moderate technocrat. I'd vote for Huntsman over Obama, but not in a primary.
Rick Perry has my support. I commented on his electability here. I think he's a center-right candidate who can win due to his experience, the economy, and the fact that people know what they are going to get from him. Perry is who he is. Do I agree with Perry 100%? No I don't. The vaccine requirement. I don't have a problem with him encouraging it, but I did with requirements. He realized his mistake and backed off. I'm also opposed to the death penalty. However, there's a lot of issues where I do agree with him.
1. Abolishing lifetime tenure for judges. Right now, there's no accountability for federal judicial decisions. There needs to be checks and balances.
2. 16th Amendment income tax. Eliminate it.
3. Balance Budget Amendment.
4. Opposition to Cap and Trade and supports of all the above energy policy which will help our economy
5. Pro-life and pro-2nd Amendment
6. Repeal Obamacare.
7. Turned down stimulus money because of the strings attached.
8. Reduced property taxes and refused to create income tax
9. Vetoes. He used the veto more times than anyone else in Texas history - despite republican control for much of his time in office.
In addition to that, the issue is experience. Obama was a junior league senator with four years of statewide elected experience. Before that, he was a state senator. He is the Peter Principle in Chief. George W Bush I think was inexperienced as well. He was a 1 1/2 term governor and his other major experience was running the Texas Rangers. I think the inexperience caught up with him in the 2nd term of his presidency. Carter was a one term governor and former state senator. He was the Peter Principle in Chief of his time, and then some. Worst president in my lifetime.
Rick Perry has a 10 year record as governor, and 10 years before that as either Lt Governor or Agricultural Commissioner. During the past 20 years, Texas has been one of the leading states in economic growth. Perry didn't do that by himself, but most importantly, he didn't screw things up. A bad governor can do a number on a state. Jennifer Granholm, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gray Davis, Kathleen Blanco, and Rod Blagojevich prove that. Rick Perry is the most conservative candidate running who can win, and he can win due to the performance of the Texas economy and jobs over the past 10 years.
Jobs is how Perry wins, and jobs is how Obama loses.