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Mitch Daniels Out, Tim Pawlenty In as GOP Field Takes Shape

The Republican primary field narrowed further this weekend as Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels announced he won't run. Daniels was considered to be a "serious" candidate who could appeal to independents, so his bowing out appears to be another blow to the GOP's hopes of unseating President Obama in 2012. (See: GOP Shakeup Good For Obama, So Why Is Matt Taibbi So Disappointed? )

"Consider the list of would-be candidates who've passed on a campaign in the last four months: Mike Pence, John Thune, Haley Barbour, Mike Huckabee, Donald Trump and now Daniels," Politico reports. "Add Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan and Rick Perry — Republicans with star power who've said flatly they won't run — and it translates into a GOP establishment deeply worried that the flawed options they're left with won't be any match for an incumbent president who seemingly won't face a primary but is likely to shatter campaign fundraising records."

Assuming no "dark horse" candidate emerges, the conventional wisdom is that former Governors Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty, who formally announced his candidacy on Monday, are the front-runners to win the nomination.

But as Henry and I discuss in the accompanying clip, conventional wisdom is often wrong, especially when it comes to politics. Rather than going for a candidate viewed as being more "mainstream," there's a good chance GOP primary voters will opt for someone with strong conservative principles, like Reps. Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin.

Conventional wisdom further holds that President Obama would easily defeat such an "extreme" candidate in a general election, with the special election in New York being viewed by many as a proxy on GOP policies. But if recent economic data and Monday's market action are indications of future trends, the Democrats can't take anything for granted.

Aaron Task is the host of The Daily Ticker. You can follow him on Twitter at @atask or email him at altask@yahoo.com

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