I visit a website called Intrade on a regular basis. It is a prediction market for events of all sorts, including political ones. For each situation there is a "contract" (similar to a stock) which represents a binary event (ie there are only two possible outcomes). The contract value fluctuates somewhere between 0 and 100 depending on its perceived likelihood to occur. A more probable event will have a higher contract value; the contract value is essentially the probability of this event taking place, according to this community.
For example, right now the Hillary Clinton Democrat Nomination contract is trading at approximately 65.4, which means this community gives her roughly a 65% chance of winning the Democrat Primary. As she becomes more or less likely to win, the value will fluctuate. I am of the belief that the Intrade contract value is a very accurate predictor. What you hear on TV might be the opinion of one (perhaps biased) pundit, but the Intrade contract value is the aggregate opinion of literally tens of thousands of people.
I've been following the primary races between both parties very closely. The Republican Primary is a bit more interesting than the Democrat primary because it is a closer race. The highest valued GOP Nomination contracts are Guliani (about 40%), Romney (approx 20%) and then a bunch of other candidates at close to 10%. One particular GOP candidate's contract value has been skyrocketing lately, and that is Mike Huckabee. This graph shows the value of the Huckabee GOP Nomination contract over the last few months:
Only a few months ago, Huckabee was a long shot. Recent fortunes have made him into a front runner; his Intrade value at ~18% shows him to be a serious contender.
Here is my analysis. Huckabee's recent surge isn't about his strength, its about the weaknesses of the other major GOP candidates. The religious base of the Republican Party is realizing that Guliani, with his three marriages, pro-choice views, and cross dressing tendencies, isn't the moral leader that they'd like. They are also uncomfortable with the up-till-now 2nd place Romney, who is a Mormon and also previously a pro-choicer.
Heres another reason why I don't think Huckabee's recent surge is about his strengths: he has none. He has no business even thinking about trying to become president. He has no foreign policy experience or insights. He has no economic plans or even a basic understand for what I can tell. He has no real health care plans. He has absolutely nothing except his credentials as a Baptist Preacher (eww), a "moral leader" (whatever that means), and apparently he is a pretty nice guy (who cares).
It actually angers me to see Huckabee's recent rise in the polls. I want a President, not a preacher. I don't want another big-government know-nothing fanatically religious retard running this country into the ground. The Religious Right had their way for 8 long years. Their way was clearly the wrong way. Its time for a new direction. The Republican Party needs a new direction, and so does the country as a whole.
Now, let us reiterate the position the GOP is in, namely that all of their candidates except for two are god-aweful. Guliani and Romney both have glaring flaws with the base of the GOP, not to mention lots of other issues too. I can hear the "swift hosing" advertisements from NY Firefighters directed at Guliani, or the "flip-flopping" accusations directed at another politician from Massachusetts (Romney). Huckabee seems to remedy some of the flaws of the former two men, but alas he turns out to be a moron. Fred Thompson's much anticipated campaign belly-flopped in a big way.
Here is a great example of why I absolutely despise most GOP candidates. This You tube video shows most of the major GOP prospects claiming they would consider using nukes against Iran preemptively. Are you kidding me??? The reason Iran would want nukes in the first place is because they need a deterrent against US attack. How is threatening to use tactical nukes going to alleviate their concerns? Clearly, such careless statements come from men who know nothing of foreign policy or of war, and instead are trying to look 'strong and tough' to a home audience against the foreign 'threat' (laugh). Hmmmmmm. Kinda sounds like our current president, doesn't it? How did his foreign policy turn out?
So I mentioned there are two GOP candidates that I don't hate. One is Ron Paul, a principled libertarian who is a strict constitutionalist. He has a cult-like following especially amongst internet-savvy young people, and as much as I love the things he says, I know he is completely unelectable. The second candidate I don't hate is John McCain. Polls show that he is the only GOP candidate that can beat Hillary in a national election. Other polls asked Democrats who their favorite (or, hate the least) GOP candidate was, and McCain was a clear winner there too. His foreign policy experience is very sound. He has a great record on other issues, including fighting wasteful earmarks. He has a long bipartisan history; hopefully he could unite this nation. John McCain is the only GOP candidate to seriously address global warming and other environmental issues. Aside from Ron Paul, McCain is the only GOP candidate I trust. In fact, John McCain is the only GOP candidate I will vote for. If the GOP doesn't nominate McCain I am voting against the Republicans no matter what, even if that means I am casting a vote for Hillary Clinton.
With such obvious strengths, and few other good choices, you'd think the GOP would be all over John McCain. And yet, he is doing poorly right now. His Intrade contract value (for the nomination) has been hovering at about 7% for months. One reason for his weakness in polls is that the religious base of the Republican Party doesn't care for him much. They seem to prefer Huckabee. Well, too bad. Here is what I have to say to the Republican Party, and every other Independent voter should say as well:
Its McCain or nothing.