Insiders Rank Overrated and Underrated Candidates

Political Wire got an advanced look at The National Journal’s Political Insiders poll of each party’s most overrated and underrated candidates. The choices are not very surprising.

The view I’ve often expressed here of John Edwards is shared by the largest number of Democratic insiders at 42%. Bob Shrum summed him up pretty well as a “Clinton who hadn’t read the books.” Barack Obama does come in fairly close at 40%. Both suffer from limited experience, with Edwards having significantly less experience than Obama. Obama does remain a candidate I’m watching closely. I would prefer that he had more experience, but he also does show qualities that some more experienced candidates lack. In comparing Edwards to Obama, the major difference is that I don’t think Edwards would make a good President no matter how much experience he had, but Obama does show tremendous potential. While not my ideal choice, dissatisfaction with the choices offered places Obama among the only two candidates I am seriously considering at the moment.

I would have been shocked if the other candidate I’m considering, Bill Richardson, hadn’t led the list of underrated candidates. Of the original second tier, Richardson is also the one that is gradually attracting the most attention, especially among independents who plan to vote in Democratic caucuses and primaries where this is allowed. Richardson even comes in first among independents planning to vote in the Iowa Democratic caucus.

Biden and Dodd are second and third. I might have ranked Biden much higher until I read his view of special interest politics earlier in the week.

On the Republican side the results aren’t very surprising either. Fred Thompson, whose major qualification for office is that he has played a president on film, tops the list of overrated Republicans. McCain and Romney tie for a distant second place. I’d stick Giuliani up with them also. I’m also surprised that the party insiders–keeping in mind these are party insiders–didn’t place Ron Paul high on their overrated list.

The most underrated Republican was also a very obvious choice in Mike Huckabee. I disagree with him on a lot of issues, and lost a bit of confidence in him when he expressed his disbelief in evolution, but he still appears to be the most rational Republican running, such as when talking about school prayer. Besides, anyone who has been the subject of attack ads such as those from the Club For Growth is not your typical right wing politician. Mitt Romney comes in second, placing him on both the underrated and overrated lists.

The poll is interesting and largely predictable. My initial reaction was that this was of limited value as I wouldn’t really want the political insiders picking our nominees. However, if we base this on the underrated candidates, my bet is that we can, and most likely will, do far worse than a race between Bill Richardson and Mike Huckabee.

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