It occurs to me that I've been doing posts on each presidential candidate as they jump into or exit out of the race, and I didn't do one on Tim Pawlenty this week.
Uh...he's a serious candidate with a solid chance to win.
I think that exhausts what I have to say about Pawlenty. David Frum nailed this a while back: he's running as the Generic Republican.
Counting the contenders, not establishing an order: Pawlenty (1) clearly could win, along with Romney (2), Barbour (3), and (if they're in) Daniels (4) and Huck (5). Rick Perry (6) could, in my view, still run and have a solid chance of winning, and I suppose that's true of Jeb Bush (7), and there's still Palin (8). But that's about it. National Journal has a new Top 15 candidate list out this week, and I don't seen anyone else from that list with a realistic chance (Perry is on their sub-list "on the bubble" category, and Jeb isn't even there). Longshot but plausible nominee Jim DeMint is now putting out word that he's definitely not running, and it's not clear that he (or Thune, or a few others) could enter or re-enter any later than now and still have a chance.
So if all that is correct, then that leaves only eight real plausible nominees at this point -- I'd probably say those eight have collectively far better than a 90% chance of winning the nomination, probably around 98%) and of those only three are clearly in and running at this point. For what it's worth, my eight only have about 72% of the combined odds on Intrade, so I suppose I think that these candidates are, collectively, pretty severely undervalued over there (see, by the way, here and here for some caution about interpreting prices at Intrade and other such markets). And for what it's worth I'll add that Jeb Bush would really be starting from scratch; as far as I know, he hasn't been doing any sort of candidate-like things at all over the last couple years
I suppose the upshot of all of that is that I should really be paying more attention to Pawlenty.