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The Republican presidential primary is so unsettled that even former New York Governor George Pataki is now reportedly considering joining the fray.Despite the entrance of Texas Governor Rick Perry to the race just one week ago, there is still room for a few more bodies, according to The New York Times’ Nate Silver. Based on their ideologies, geographic backgrounds, and relative status as establishment or outsider members of the party, Silver notes that the current field of candidates has some demographic gaps, leaving space for undeclared candidates to step into the void.
So who may yet run, and where will they fit in if they do?
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)
As another Midwestern politician, Ryan could fill the geographic space left when Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty dropped out of the race. His prominent role in Republican efforts to slash spending and take on entitlements could make him the “establishment-approved conservative,” though he’d have to vie with Bachmann and Perry to court average conservative voters.
Gov. Chris Christie
The New Jersey Governor could walk the line in a few key ways. He has some outsider appeal for voters fed up with Washington, but he’s also well-liked by establishment conservatives for being one of the first Republican governors to take on state unions. And while Christie’s fiscal conservatism could ingratiate him with pro-business types, he’s not so far right on social issues that he’d have to elbow with the likes of Michele Bachmann or Rick Santorum.
Should Palin enter the race, she’d fall into a crowded group of “insurgent” candidates that includes Bachmann and Herman Cain. It doesn’t help that Bachmann and Cain — and to an extent Rick Perry — also share the same ideological turf as Palin. While the former Alaska governor could carve up some of her rivals’ support in those arenas, there may not be enough of it to go around.
As a more moderate candidate, Giuliani would have to contend mostly with Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman. But there’s not a real push within the party for another moderate, and there is concern that even Romney, despite his status as a front-runner, may ultimately be done in by his tepid support from conservatives. Giuliani would also have less success trumpeting his national security credentials — a central pillar of his 2008 campaign — this time around now that that issue has receded from the spotlight.
Like Giuliani, Pataki falls on the more moderate side of the field, and like Giuliani, his problem is that there’s not many people clamoring for another moderate. His background — a Republican Governor from a Northeastern Democratic state — may also overlap too much with Romney’s for a possible Pataki campaign to gain much traction.