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Poised for a Flip

(By Jonathan Hayward -- Associated Press)

16 days: July 15 is the final day for candidates to file for the Senate race in Minnesota. All eyes are on "The Body," a.k.a. Jesse Ventura, a.k.a. the state's former governor. Ventura has played coy about his interest in joining an already high-profile field that includes Sen. Norm Coleman (R) and entertainer Al Franken (D). If Ventura runs, he would almost assuredly affect the final outcome.


Ever wonder what it would be like if the vice presidential sweepstakes was conducted like "Survivor"?

Now we know -- thanks to the Massachusetts-based company Affinnova, which used "evolutionary optimization" to trim down a list of 100 potential veeps to the single strongest candidate for each party.

The winners?

There's just one: retired Gen. Colin Powell.

Powell, who has said countless times that he has no interest in running for office, wound up atop both the Democratic and Republican lists. "Likely voters for both parties in the study indicate Powell's strong leadership and dependability as factors for choosing him first," said a release on the findings.

Rounding out the top five picks for Democrats, in order, were former vice president Al Gore, former representative Dick Gephardt (Mo.), Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and former senator John Edwards (N.C.). On the GOP side, the results for second through fourth place were Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in a virtual dead heat. Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani took fifth.

The findings are the result of a Web-based sample of 2,000 likely voters from June 12 to 17. Participants were presented with three different president-vice president combinations and asked to pick the ticket that most appealed to them. Over time, those tickets not picked dropped off, and the more commonly selected moved up the list. It's Darwinism applied to politics.

Will Obama and McCain heed the evolutionary optimization? Probably not. But maybe they should, as Affinnova has done work for the likes of Wal-Mart, Procter & Gamble and Microsoft.

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