Thanks to reader James for the link to this chart by Nate Silver, showing where Silver believes various potential Republian candidates fall on a sliding scale of insider/outsider and conservative/moderate:
Sweet spot, or mushy middle?
If it is any help, here’s how Silver describes Pawlenty’s position:
Tim Pawlenty I had trouble placing him in any of the four quadrants. As Jay Cost of The Weekly Standard points out, — Mr. Pawlenty enjoys something of a reputation as a moderate even though his positions are fairly conservative: he has pledged to reinstate the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, for instance. Likewise, Mr. Pawlenty seems to keep Washington at arm’s length while having supporters within the Republican establishment.
I have been skeptical about Mr. Pawlenty’s candidacy, in large part because his personality is not terribly dynamic and he has had some trouble creating a strong brand for himself; sales of his book “Courage to Stand”, for instance, have been quite weak. Still, he can be credited with a viable strategy: stay a safe distance off the lead lap, and hope for a multicar pileup ahead of him.
That Mr. Pawlenty has been among the first Republicans to build out his campaign infrastructure fits with that strategy — it would be valuable in the car-crash scenario, which implies a long, drawn-out nomination process. So does the fact that Mr. Pawlenty could plausibly position himself as conservative or moderate, insider or outsider, as the situation dictates.
Update: You may also want to check out reader comments at So Tell Me About Tim Pawlenty