In a bit of a shocker -- well, to me at least -- Haley Barbour is apparently out of WH '12. Yikes! Among other things, Barbour was part of my longshot trio, along with Rick Perry and Jim DeMint. When you bet on longshots who finish up the track, you're never exactly "wrong," but...well, it sure looks as if I won't be cashing those tickets.
What happened? Did he decide he really didn't like campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire all that much? In his statement, he refers to "fire in the belly," or that is his lack of it. Or did he just find out that there was less appeal than he hoped for a good ole boy lobbyist in today's GOP? After all, his statement also refers to "hundreds" of supporters who have urged him to run, which isn't actually very impressive. The Sage of Wasilla, no doubt, has thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, begging her to make the race, despite her overall lack of popularity.
Without further information, it's hard to say whether Barbour (or any other candidate with a similar announcement) should be counted as "did not run" or "winnowed out early." My inclination, again pending further information, is to put them all (Barbour, Thune, Palin and Huck if they don't show up in Iowa) in the "winnowed out early" category. At least those (unlike, say, Jeb Bush) who have sort-of, in-a-way run during the invisible primary stage.
So: kudos for now to those who thought Barbour never had a prayer, and the contest moves on.
Time to update my state-of-the-field analysis. This leaves two -- two! -- active, fully running candidates who in my view have a plausible chance of winning: Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty, along with three on-the-fence candidates (Palin, Huck, and Mitch Daniels) who have a plausible chance. And I still consider two potential candidates who do not appear to be running now, Perry and Bush, to have a plausible chance if they were to enter soon. There are also ten candidates "running" in various forms who I do not think have a plausible chance.