This Week in Fake Presidential Candidates

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Hey, did you hear who's maybe running for president? Everyone. At least that's seemingly what each and every Republican politician wants us to think these days. And why not? Just say you're "thinking about it" or "keeping your options open," and the media will suddenly lavish attention on you as if you really matter. But not everybody does. Each Friday until the primaries truly begin, we'll look at which of these prospective candidates are more likely or less likely to actually enter the race, along with a prediction of the likelihood that they'll throw their hat into the ring. Excluded from this rigorous scientific analysis: any candidate we're pretty sure is definitely going to run — guys like Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, and Gary Johnson.

Photo: John M. Heller/Getty

  • Newt Gingrich

  • 97%

Gingrich's spokesman says he'll enter the race next week. You can't really back away after saying something like that.

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty

  • Ron Paul

  • 94%

Paul won't win, but he won't have any trouble actually running — his loyal followers sent him over $1 million yesterday in yet another successful money bomb.

Photo: Steve Pope/Getty

  • Rick Santorum

  • 88%

Santrum didn't do too badly in the debate last night, except for the speaking-through-clenched-teeth thing he does, which is kind of off-putting.

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty

  • Michele Bachmann

  • 82%

Bachmann sure is taking her sweet time getting into this race, despite not having any business "entanglements" like Newt Gingrich, a cushy TV gig like Mike Huckabee, or, until recently, an ambassadorship like Jon Huntsman standing in her way.

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/Getty

  • Herman Cain

  • 69%

Cain easily "won" the "debate" last night, according to Frank Luntz's post-debate focus group. That should give him the motivation he needs to actually go through with this.

Photo: Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty

  • Jon Huntsman

  • 67%

Huntsman formed a new PAC two days ago, is meeting with South Carolina governor Nikki Haley today, and is scheduled to speak to a New Hampshire Republican group in a couple of weeks. Oh, he's hunting all right ... for the nomination.

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty

  • Mike Huckabee

  • 52%

Whether or not Fox is pressuring Huckabee to make a damn decision already doesn't really change the fact that he could go either way, and neither would surprise us. We're giving him a slight bump, if only because he has to sense, like everyone else, how weak this field is.

Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

  • Donald Trump

  • 47%

Man, that birth-certificate really took the wind out of Trump's sails: no more blanket coverage of everything he says or does, fewer birthers to rally behind him, and consequently, sagging poll numbers to follow, we're sure. Trump may have peaked already.

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty

  • Mitch Daniels

  • 38%

Daniels says he's "weeks away" from making a decision, but he's obviously thinking about it seriously, and Republicans are increasingly desperate for him to enter the race.

Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

  • Buddy Roemer

  • 32%

Roemer was actually prohibited from participating in a debate that featured guys like Herman Cain and Gary Johnson, who barely poll over one percent. Time to throw in the towel, Buddy, and go back to whatever it was you've been doing in the twenty years since you last held public office.

Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty

  • Sarah Palin

  • 20%

Again, we ask: Who?

Photo: Jemal Countess/Getty

  • Rudy Giuliani

  • 8%

You have to think that the death of Osama bin Laden, and how it has strengthened, at least for now, voters' approval of President Obama's handling of terrorism, diminishes Giuliani's appeal.

Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty

  • Rand Paul

  • .7%

We're going to have to take him off this list eventually.

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty

  • John Bolton

  • 0.5%

Hold on, we're just going to check if Bolton still has a walrus mustache. Annnnd ... he does.