Media Want to Handicap the Republican Presidential Race

The 2012 presidential election is still a year-and-a-half away. To put that in perspective, at this same time prior to the 2000 election, George W. Bush -- the eventual winner -- was one of at least 20 candidates being mentioned as a possible Republican nominee, but he was by no means the front-runner. Bush did end up winning the Iowa caucuses, but he lost New Hampshire to McCain, who was picking up steam and looked like the man to beat. Of course, Bush did indeed beat McCain in South Carolina, and that set in motion a series of events that carried Bush to the convention and a landslide victory when the delegates were counted. But until the late spring of 2000, the race was still very much up in the air.

So it is now. At least 20 Republicans are making campaign noises, and the media -- always on the lookout for a horse race -- can't resist the story.  Horse races, after all, have high stakes, underdogs, back stories, drama. They're perfect for journalism. That's one reason presidential campaigns are starting earlier and earlier -- the mainstream media like it that way.

Evangelicals will play a major role in this election, so say we all. The most recent reporter to say so is Nia-Malika Henderson of the Washington Post. Her story, in which I'm quoted, is here.

The story is unusually thorough and -- I think -- fair.  Of course, my short quote is what was left after two half-hour phone conversations with her, but I can't blame her for that.  The process of daily deadline journalism necessarily requires reporters to leave out much.

The bottom  line, at least for now, is to stay tuned. Mitt Romney, who is currently leading most polls, but others are on his heels. One to watch is Indiana's Mitch Daniels, who WORLD's Edward Lee Pitts profiled here.

One thing is for sure: things will change. After all, if they didn't, it wouldn't be a horse race, and the media simply wouldn't allow that.

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