This week’s issue of TIME takes a useful metaphor from Joe Klein’s story on the Republican presidential primary field and renders it quite literally on the cover. Of the GOP nominating process, Joe writes:
It won’t be a stately procession from Iowa to New Hampshire to South Carolina to Florida this time. It will look more like the NCAA basketball tournament, only with two instead of four brackets: the Iowa bracket, which will feature the social-conservative and populist candidates like Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum — and perhaps Sarah Palin and Texas Governor Rick Perry; and the New Hampshire bracket, which will feature more-moderate candidates like Romney and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, focused on the economy. Some, like former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, will try to finesse the brackets and play in both, but they are likely to be pulled gravitationally toward one or the other vision of how to win the nomination — Iowa or New Hampshire, populist pitchforkery or center-right plausibility.
The rest of Joe’s taxonomic analysis — real candidates vs. self-marketers, fiscal conservatives vs. social ones, establishment Republicans vs. populists — is well worth reading, but we’re also encouraging readers to participate. Fill in the blanks on the cover and send us your picks for who will advance in the Republican primary. Online voting will begin at http://www.time.com/gopbracket on Friday and will continue for two weeks. (I’ll hazard a guess that Ron Paul supporters, who have a history of organized zeal for this sort of thing, may tip the scales.) We’ll also be taking snail mail submissions postmarked by July 1 at the following address:
TIME Magazine Letters
Attention: GOP Bracket
Time & Life Building, New York, NY 10020
TIME will report back the results in the issue that hits newsstands on Friday, July 8.