Free-For-All 2008: One Way to the White House

Brendan Miniter of Opinion Journal has a worthy strategy for presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. For Romney, he suggests, the road to the White House goes through the Senate. Running against Ted Kennedy would give him a high profile and strong credentials, and he could easily play the centrist against Kennedy's far-left winger. Even if he fails, the political capital is likely to be greater than if he subjects himself to another term battling the Democratic Goliaths of the state legislature. In local reporting, the Salem News quotes former Governor Dukakis and other Massachusetts political watchers who agree that another term would not help Romney. As for the Journal's assertion that Romney would have a chance to carry Massachusetts for the Republicans in 2008... yeah right.

Unfortunately for Romney, even his news surge in the past two weeks since a closed-door meeting with Washington operatives has failed to propel him above 10th in the first edition of InstantReplay's Chatter Rankings.

Rank Candidate Chatter
R.1 Sen. Bill Frist 1,610
R.2 Rudy Giuliani 692
R.3 Gov. George Pataki 622
R.4 Secy. Condoleezza Rice 606
R.5 Sen. John McCain 547
R.6 Newt Gingrich 536
R.7 Sen. Chuck Hagel 309
R.8 V.P. Dick Cheney 199
R.9 Sen. George Allen 169
R.10 Gov. Mitt Romney 140
D.1 Sen. Hillary Clinton 1,570
D.2 Sen. John Kerry 827
D.3 Sen. Joseph Biden 318
D.4 Howard Dean 250
D.5 Sen. John Edwards 225
D.6 Gov. Bill Richardson 164

The Chatter Rankings are created by searching each candidate's name plus "2008" in the Google News database. For example, see the surprisingly high results for Dick Cheney. In every case, many (most?) of the articles don't say anything substantive about the politician's potential candidacy, but they provide what I think is a fair measure of the candidate's current media exposure and their broadly considered chances.

Of course, candidates who are in the news for other reasons (e.g. Frist) will inflate their totals. However, this is not totally unfair: after all, name recognition is vital at this stage. Some of these candidates will fail to get enough political and media types excited about them and will in turn fail to attract the donors who want to spend their money on potential winners. Polls, I think, are of less use at this point, unless they are targeted at the writing/politicking/donating class. Frankly, most people are sane enough not to be thinking about the next presidency this early. However, this is only the second wide-open election since 1920, so InstantReplay fully intends to make the most of it.

Note: for Rudy Giuliani, I left his first name out of the search, because he splits time between being "Rudy" and "Rudolph". In most cases, using both the candidate's names weeds out (a) unrelated articles and (b) non-professional publications and cursory mentions. If Senator Obama ever makes it onto the list, he'll get the same treatment, because journalists can't seem to agree how to spell his first name.

Tested but not qualifying: Evan Bayh, Colin Powell, Barack Obama, Dennis Kucinich, Dick Gephardt, Alan Keyes, Al Sharpton.

Tell me what you think of this feature - if it's popular, I'll keep it running periodically. Also, feel free to GoogleNews your own candidate and post his results in the comments.