With that said, it is exceptionally important to consider how the candidates are positioned relative to one another. Too often, I see analyses of candidates that operate through what I’d call a checkbox paradigm, tallying up individual candidates’ strengths and weaknesses but not thinking deeply about how they will compete with one another for votes. If you like, you can think of the circles on my chart as stars or planets that exert gravitational forces on one another, seeking to clear their own safe space in the galaxy while at the same time stealing matter (voters) from their opponents.
There are two more kinds of information embedded in the chart. First, the area of each candidate’s circle is proportional to their perceived likelihood of winning the nomination, according to the Intrade betting market. Mitt Romney’s circle is drawn many times the size of the one for the relatively obscure talk-radio host Herman Cain because Intrade rates Mr. Romney many times as likely to be nominated.
Me? I have a few problems with who is where along the actual graph – for instance, I’m not so inclined to have Giuliana quite as moderate / liberal as gary Johnson, and I’m not willing to give Huckabee as conservative a stance either. Certainly, am willing to swap Santorum and Cain along the X axis.
But that’s just me.