Jim DeMint, the impassioned Tea Party leader in the Senate, sees only one possible outcome of a race dogged by weak candidates and unenthusiastic voters: Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels. "He’s the only one who could make it happen," DeMint told an audience in Georgia on Thursday, referring to the prospect of a brokered GOP convention. "But I don’t think his wife will let it happen."
Yet suppose for a moment that Mrs. Daniels had a change of heart. Could the governor actually win the nomination? Unlikely, according to the Election Oracle. Daniels hasn't received the scrutiny of an actual candidate, but the people who are buzzing about him online don't have consistently positive things to say. Measured Thursday, Daniels had a favorability score of -22, one of several low points for the governor over the past month, and currently more than 50 points lower than any of the formal Republican candidates.
To determine favorability ratings, the Election Oracle tracks 40,000 news sites, blogs, message boards, Twitter feeds, and other social-media sources to analyze what millions of people are saying about the issues and candidates—and determines whether the Web buzz is positive or negative. That rating is weighted, along with the Real Clear Politics polling average and the latest InTrade market data, to calculate each candidate’s chances of winning the Republican nomination. (See methodology here.)
Were Daniels to actually run, the media's scrutiny would likely bring his favorability down further, at least at first, as the Election Oracle has registered with virtually all other candidates. Daniels, for his part, says he hasn't changed his mind about not running.
In a lackluster field, however, the moment may still be Daniels' for the taking. At 62, he has the chops attractive to GOP voters. He cut spending in Indiana and repeatedly balanced the state's budget. Without overdoing it, he lobs frequent criticism toward President Obama's economic policies, winning favor with the right wing. After establishment Republican leaders asked Daniels to deliver the GOP response to Obama's State of the Union address last month, Daniels has occasionally appeared in impromptu speculation and polls suggesting he could reasonably emerge from a brokered convention. Still, the public reaction to Daniels' speech following Obama was mixed, and in the days after, the Election Oracle registered a nose dive of favorable buzz online.
This weekend, he'll travel to Washington for the National Governor's Conference. His schedule has two notable elements of import: he'll hold a closed-door meeting with President Obama, and sit for an interview on a top-tier program watched by Republican voters, Fox News Sunday.