The odds-on favorite to win the GOP presidential nod in 2012 is none other than Sarah Palin, according to a statistical formula developed by Villanova University Prof. Lara Brown. The professor's figuring is bad news for presumed hopefuls like Rep. Mike Pence, Sen. Jim DeMint, ex-Gov. Mitt Romney, former Speaker Newt Gingrich, Gov. Haley Barbour, and former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton. Many simply joined the game too late, says Brown, author of the new book Jockeying for the American Presidency: The Political Opportunism of Aspirants, which studies every election since the founding. Others, like DeMint, are still brewing but won't be ready until 2016. As for Newt? "I don't think the GOP can forgive him," she says.
The book devises an "opportunism variable" based on the candidate's résumé to explain who wins the presidency and why. Palin has an advantage because she has been elected both mayor and governor. She also was a major party vice presidential nominee, giving her an enviable breadth of political experience. According to Brown, candidates who take risks and run for a variety of offices do well. It's even better if they lose a presidential race or two. "It takes about a run and a half to get there," Brown says. Pols "may think they can get it done in six months or a year, but [winning] will actually take them running, losing, and planting seeds," she says.