Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Which candidate is headed for a fall?
The earliest primaries are still months away, the general election more than a year off, but in the countryside of Iowa, it may already be too late for candidates who are trailing in fundraising or the polls.

That may sound rude and wrong, but it's right on the money.

The equation this year is simply brutal: With 18 reasonably big name candidates fighting for attention, and more likely to follow, including some possible political gorillas, it has never been harder for lesser-known candidates to get attention.

Add to that the fact that nearly half the states have moved their primaries way up, or are thinking about it.

And add to that a nationwide population now over 300 million people.

And you can see the problem: Too much ground to cover, too many people to reach, too much drain on all the resources of almost any struggling campaign.

So the lower level candidates can only wait and watch for a top-tier player to slip up, maybe giving them a stab at the finals.

Here's my question: Which top-tier candidate do you think runs the greatest risk of falling back into the minors? And which lower-level candidate is most likely to take advantage of a major candidate slip-up?

-- By Tom Foreman, CNN Correspondent
Posted By CNN: 3:35 PM ET
  12 Comments
On the Democratic side, I think the top tier candidate who runs the greatest risk of falling into the minors is former Senator John Edwards. The reason I think this is because he is not as hard hitting on the issues or on the political stage as Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. He kind of fades into the wood work. The lower-level candidate who could take his place is Senator Joe Biden from Delaware. Senator Joe Biden can be loud and sometimes brass, but I think people will pay attention to him before some of the other candidates. Representative Dennis Kucinich is running stronger this election cycle than the last one.

On the Republican side I think that both Senator John McCain and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani are going to slip up, possibly Giuliani more than McCain but both of them are filled with so much brass that they could make a slip or two. Who I feel will take their place Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney is an upper tier man now, but against Fred Thompson he will really rise to prominence.
Posted By Anne; Atlanta, Georgia : 4:03 PM ET
Tom/AC360:
By next summer I see three major Democratic and three major Republican candidates still in the running.
DEMS: Clinton, Obama and Edwards
REPS: Giuliani, McCain and Romney

Possible upsets: DEMS: Edwards moves out if Gore moves in. REPS: Romney moves out if Thompson moves in.

Lower levels: DEMS: Bill Richardson. REPS: Sam Brownback

Anything is possible this time around. It is going to quite a ride.
Posted By Sharon D., Indianapolis, IN : 4:12 PM ET
Tom,

On the Republican side, I think John McCain will start to fade. His age, the war (including his take on the surge) and his lack of big money will do him in. I agree with Anne that on the Democratic side, John Edwards will not have the wallop needed to stay. Barack and Hillary will both become more of a juggernaut than they are now and at some point make things a two person race.

I don't see any minor candidate moving up to take the place of a major leaguer. They may stay in the race and preserve their forum for airing their positions, but it is too late for them. The Colbert "bump" moved Ron Paul from 1% to 2% but that will not be enough even if he is on the show every night.

And no matter how many are in the race, my candidate is not so I will have to choose someone else. Unless of course he makes a surprise announcement on Larry King the week. I can always hope.
Posted By Charlotte D, Stockton Ca : 4:30 PM ET
This is an interesting question that you pose. It seems that the person who gets elected is the one who is the best at campaigning, but does that task really require the same skills that are needed to be a successful president?

On the side of the Democrats, maybe Obama is vulnerable because of his lack of experience in participating in a difficult campaign. Then moving into the top tier would be, I don't know, Richardson? Biden? If Gore enters the race, all bets are off.

On the side of the Republicans, McCain does not seem to be doing very well with fundraising. Who would then enter the top tier? Beats me! I've never been able to understand the mind of a Republican!
Posted By Barbara, Culver City, CA : 5:31 PM ET
Good question Tom,

On the Republican side, I would think John McCain. The conservative's think he's too liberal and the libera's think he's too conservative. He can't win. If it wasn't campaign season, I could see him changing his party affilation to Liberal and join Joe Lieberman. However, he's stuck right now and I don't see him making it. He would make an excellent choice for a VP, if he drops out of the race.

On the Dem. side, I'd pick Edwards. He flip-flops on the issues. Has some baggage that he carries with him from the Gore/Edwards ticket - and this may sound vain but he's just not Presidential enough for the American public.
Posted By Kelly, San Francisco : 7:27 PM ET
This is like the Kentucky Derby. A few are neck and neck, while others have left the pack. For the Dems I see Clinton and Obama as the front runners and Edwards slipping, his wife shows more passion and unscripted thoughts than any of the candidates. I could see Biden or Richardson moving up. If Al Gore steps in all bets are off. For the Reps I think that McCain and Romney could slip if Fred Thompson enters the race. Giuliani seems comfortable unless maybe Bloomberg enters the race. This is going to be a wild ride to the finish! Hope everyone has a fun and safe 4th!
Posted By Kathy Chicago,Il : 9:21 PM ET
Dems - I think Clinton and Obama will stay strong but Edwards will slip. I don't see any of the others able to capitalize on this though - too much ground to cover and not enough money or logistical support.

If Gore comes in I think all the Dems will slip, even Clinton.

On Republicans - McCain is already slipping and probably on his way out. If Thompson comes in, I believe he will be the front runner pretty quickly on this side and Guiliani will slip quickly.

Long time to go though and anything can happen. Kind of like betting on the horses when they are colts right now.
Posted By Annie Kate, Birmingham AL : 10:24 PM ET
Hi Tom,
Well, Humpty Dumpty isn't running, but I see many candidates falling out of the race very soon. I think it's between Clinton and Obama. Rudy and Thompson? But as with most things in life, the campaign can be turned upside down in a heartbeat. We just never can say never.
Wouldn't it be nice if the most capable person made the cut instead of bags of money doing the job. Take Care
Posted By Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 10:33 PM ET
I think Mitt Romney is definitely going to slip up on his road to the White House. I just hope Hillary doesn't. You just never know what the American public is going to riled about (e.g., Howard Dean's "SCREAM"). There's a long way to go. Hang in there, Hillary!
Posted By Barbara Stony Point, New York : 1:39 AM ET
You have a notice that says you get "thousands of comments a day"; I can't believe they all come just from women - and yet all the comments re: the Pres. race are from women. In the first race our country has seen with a viable female candidate, how can you provide such skewed coverage (assuming you are picking a few comments from "the thousands")?? Help! I expected better from CNN!
Posted By Joe, Atlanta, GA : 8:46 AM ET
Your story brings up a far more important issue than which candidate may slip up. The real issue is that we need to change the way we elect a President. I feel we should limit the election cycle to 3 months. This would allow those wishing to run to actually perform the jobs they are already in, rather than spending 2 years in a campaign. It would also greatly lower the cost of a campaign, allowing more people the opportunity to run for elected office. And, it would allow those of us who are already sick of the phone calls, commercials, news stories, etc. the ability to survive an election cycle without losing our sanity.

P Anderson, Seattle, WA
Posted By Anonymous : 6:22 PM ET
I whole heartedly agree with P. Anderson of Seattle. Beyond that, the candidate with the best resume is Gov. Richardson. But I'm going to vote for the person who shows me the/she is an American first and a party loyalist last. I am sick of politicians who show more loyalty to their part than they do to the country.
Posted By Dick, Portland, OR : 10:34 AM ET
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