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GOP Debate Live: Where the Race Stands

Having just arrived at Oakland University for tonight’s Republican presidential debate, I noticed two things immediately:

1) Everyone knows where they’re going except me (After wandering around outside and getting questioned by several police officers who must have figured–despite my tie and nice blue shirt–that I’m stoned [already] or a terrorist, I finally found my way into the media filing center after only half an hour. This has to be some kind of record for getting the most lost in a one-acre area, but I bet Brian Williams had like escorts helping him to his seat or something)

2) There’s free food and coffee. I’m already on my fourth turkey wrap. I love journalism.

Quickly, we must go over where the race stands. Tonight’s debate will include front-runner Willard “Mitt” Romney, Herman Cain, Michelle Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Rick Perry, Rick “Santorum” Santorum and Ron Paul. There are three tiers right now in the Republican primary.

The Romney Tier

This includes Mitt Romney, the presumptive front-runner, who has consistently polled around 20%, is hated by the right-wing Tea Party faction, and who suffered two defeats during yesterday’s off-year election. First, Ohio rejected Issue 2, otherwise known as Governor John Kasich’s attempt to destroy collective-bargaining rights for public employee unions. The state overwhelmingly shot down the law by a margin of 61% to 39%. This is the law that Romney hemmed and hawed on before re-endorsing, but it also means he’s taken an unpopular stance on an issue in a very important swing state.

Additionally, it appears as though even Mississippi is not quite crazy enough to amend their state constitution to count everything “from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof” as a person (even if you are pro-life, please think about the implications of this). Even though we all know Romney is secretly pro-choice and, much like George H. W. Bush, would be highly unlikely to appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, he came out in favor of Mississippi’s measure (in characteristic fashion, only after rejecting a “personhood” amendment at a Sept. 5th debate in South Carolina).

The Second Choice Tier

The second choice tier is inhabited by the flavor of the moment. First it was Bachmann, then Perry, and now Herman Cain, who despite having been accused of everything except actually raping a woman, continues to poll well. It should be noted that the current accusations by Sharon Bialek should be classified as “sexual assault” and not “sexual harassment” due to the physical nature of the charges.

Oh, and he’s less qualified to be president than Justin Bieber’s illegitimate child, but that seems almost beside the point. To paraphrase a Jacob Weisberg tweet when all this broke, “Can we just skip the scandal and go back to not taking Herman Cain seriously?”

The Everyone Else Tier

Unfortunately for Republicans (and fortunately for Romney), this tier encompasses everyone else. Ron Paul supporters have basked the Oakland campus in Paul signage, but he’s never broken his 12% ceiling in popularity. Perry has turned out to be a clown, although I still put his odds at getting back in the game as the highest. Gingrich, Santorum and Huntsman remain about as popular as bankers at Occupy Wall Street, while Bachmann, despite her Tea Party street cred has vanished into night.