The Road to 2016: Power Rankings Week III

POWER RANKINGS 2016

48 Weeks out of the Iowa Caucus

88 Weeks out of Election Day 2016

There are currently 0 national candidates declared.

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First Class Speculative Candidates, GOP

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.Scott WaFile:Scott Walker by Gage Skidmore.jpglker: Governor Walker still sits at the top of the Power Rankings. This week, he’s alone in the “First Class” of speculative candidates. (Earlier this week, Govmatt.com had a piece, here, about Walker’s fledgling relationship with the media.) His speech at CPAC was well-received by the friendly crowd. Walker was also able to deftly handle a heckler and flex his anti-union muscles. One nagging chick in the armor of Walker became apparent in his CPAC speech when he compared thousands of union protesters to ISIS. While it’s clear that this was meant to be more of a jest than a true solution on how to deal with either problem, it belies the future concern that Governor Walker will have to deal with, namely, that he has a distinct lack of foreign policy experience. Given that he will likely be contending against Hillary Clinton who served as Secretary of State, Governor Walker needs a strong dose of world affairs before he has a shot at the White House.

Watch Governor Walker’s CPAC speech HERE.

Current Rating: Unchanged: 1st

Political Stock: BUY

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Second Class Speculative Candidates, GOP

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Jehttp://media.oregonlive.com/opinion_impact/photo/jeb-bush-20119761jpg-a137a6bdd738a087.jpgb Bush: Jeb Bush retains the second place spot in the rankings because of the considerable machine supporting his candidacy. CPAC, not always the friendliest place for moderates, will be a test for Bush’s ability to appeal to the right. It will also test Bush’s ability to fire up a room of conservatives with what they want to hear. A real test will be how Bush does against Walker and Paul in the straw poll at the end of the weekend. If Bush is able to make a strong showing (though it may be just from buying votes), it will show the national media that he has some degree of traction with conservatives. Bush’s speech will come as a headline of the event along with some of the other heavy hitters on Friday.

Current Rating: Unchanged: 2nd

Political Stock: HOLD

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Rand http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1360018/thumbs/o-RAND-PAUL-facebook.jpgPaul: Rand Paul’s audience at CPAC is bound to be impressive this year, but may be in for a bigger fight when trying to get Senator Paul to win the straw poll at the end of the whirlwind of conservative festivities and speeches. The seemingly hawkish trend at CPAC does not benefit Paul’s nuanced libertarian-leaning model of foreign affairs, but the CPAC crowd has been notoriously welcoming of the libertarian agenda recently. Paul’s star will neither rise nor fall on a CPAC straw poll win or loss. Rather, as long as Senator Paul finishes near the top of the race, his stock and message will demonstrate resilience even under attack from the pro-interventionist forces in the Party.

Current Rating: Unchanged: 3rd

Political Stock: HOLD

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http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c9/Mike_Pence%2C_official_portrait%2C_112th_Congress.jpgMike Pence: Governor Pence will headline the Reagan Dinner at CPAC this evening (live HERE). A top billing at CPAC along with the correct response when confronted with the “Giuliani Question” has shown that Pence is more adept than his counterparts on this list at dealing with ridiculous media questions. Pence is showing himself to be a serious and determined figure in the Party. He has also made statements in the past week that seem to indicate that he is actively considering a run for the White House. Though his status has not reached the heights of gubernatorial colleague Scott Walker, it may be best not to be in the vanguard of the Party this early in the political cycle. This is Governor Pence’s first week moved into the “Second Class” of candidates.

Current Rating: Unchanged 4th

Political Stock: STRONG BUY

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Third Class Speculative Candidates, GOP

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http://media.salon.com/2013/05/ted_cruz2.jpgTed Cruz:  Ted Cruz was in friendly territory this week at CPAC. Though he wasn’t given the top billing like Rand Paul or Jeb Bush, Cruz reasserted his dominance in the conservative atmosphere. Showing that he knows how to talk to a conservative audience and knows what they want to hear, Cruz clearly showed that he is ready to make a run at the White House. In addition to criticizing the left, Cruz also took shots at Republicans and enhanced his reputation for a defender of the social conservative model of government.

Current Rating: 5th

Up One Spot from Last Week

Political Stock: BUY

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File:Chris Christie 2011 Shankbone.JPGChris Christie: Chris Christie is back in true form this week at CPAC. Directly combating the news that many of his supporters are fleeing to other potential candidates, Christie used his time at CPAC to reassert his conservative social credentials and was not afraid to target his potential 2016 rivals. This is a major turnaround from the last few weeks where Christie has remained uncharacteristically taciturn. However, despite his strong appeal, only time will tell if he is able to win back the supporters who have left his side and whether he can shore up support to prevent further defections.

Current Rating: 6th

Up One Spot from Last Week

Political Stock: SELL

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http://d35brb9zkkbdsd.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Marco-Rubio-Big-Smile-600x399.jpgMarco Rubio: Senator Rubio gave one of the first “speeches” at CPAC on Friday. Being interviewed by friendly conservative talk show host Sean Hannity, Rubio struck deeply on the issue of immigration and his family’s history in the country. Already knowing that Jeb Bush will be a major rival in the primaries, Rubio has sought to reestablish his conservative bona fides in the event he and Bush are both in the race. Moreover, Rubio has been seeking to define a foreign policy strategy meant to appeal to Party hawks.

Current Rating: 7th

Up One Spot from Last Week

Political Stock: HOLD

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File:Bobby Jindal by Gage Skidmore.jpgBobby Jindal: Governor Jindal used his speech time at CPAC to directly criticize Republican leadership in Washington for apparent acquiescence on the fight against Obamacare. Like many of the other potential candidates making their voices heard at CPAC, Jindal’s strong criticism of Common Core also struck positive chords with the conservative faithful. Doubling down on both the Obamacare issue and Common Core made his position clear: no surrender and no nuances on issues that conservatives should oppose.

Current Rating: 8th

Up One Spot from Last Week

Political Stock: HOLD

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John KFile:Governor John Kasich.jpgasich:  Governor Kasich notes the biggest fall of the week. This decline has very little to do with Kasich and more to do with his potential 2016 rivals gaining momentum from speaking engagements at CPAC. Kasich was notoriously absent among the list of GOP governors speaking at the event. Governor Kasich gave the State of the State address in Ohio this week and had to defend his proposals regarding raising taxes. Especially coming amid speculation of a Presidential run, any hint of moving towards higher taxes in Ohio may be used against Kasich in a future run for the White House.

Current Rating: 9th

Down Four Spots from Last Week

Political Stock: STRONG SELL

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http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/49/Ben_Carson_by_Gage_Skidmore_2.jpgDr. Ben Carson: Dr. Carson had the privilege or the novelty of being one of the first speakers at CPAC this year. This either shows his prominence as a rising leader in the Party readily defining the character of the rest of the CPAC weekend, but it can also be seen as CPAC giving him a timeslot to get him out of the way early. Regardless of the reason, Dr. Carson made all he could of the early time and certainly made headlines. Not shying away from issues of race that, in Dr. Carson’s view, are being exploited by Democrats to keep ethnic minorities as Democrat supporters, Dr. Carson won early praise for his straight talk and challenges to the African American community.

Current Rating: Unchanged: 10th

Political Stock: BUY

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http://www.texaswatchdog.org/files/rickperry_5.jpgRick Perry: Former Governor Perry looks to be trying to do things right this time around. He is attending CPAC this week is speaking on Friday. Already swiping at Governor Walker’s comparison of ISIS and labor protestors, Perry is scraping and clawing to get noticed in a deep Republican field. A key piece of Perry’s appeal is the States’ rights position on the border and immigration.

Current Rating: 11th

Up One Spot from Last Week

Political Stock: SELL

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Fourth Class Speculative Candidates, GOP

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http://c1355372.cdn.cloudfiles.rackspacecloud.com/4d77c29a-b959-4be9-8730-f88f56a2297a/RJSportrait.jpgRick Santorum: Rick Santorum is speaking at CPAC on Friday. He is likely to discuss the rise of radical Islam and his brand of religiously-fueled politics to fix it. Unabashedly hawkish, Santorum may get lukewarm reviews at CPAC which tends to be more libertarian.

Current Rating: 12th

Down One Spot from Last Week

Political Stock: SELL

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http://fitsnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/graham.jpgLindsey Graham: Lindsey Graham is not speaking at CPAC this week. This is probably for the best since his brand of interventionism is not usually well received at libertarian-of-center events. This week, Graham has been active in Iowa and has made sure not to flub the “Giuliani question.” He is still gathering steam among the elements of the Party that want to push forward on the hawkish agenda and see the United States play a more active role in the fight against Islamic extremism.

Current Ranking: Unchanged 13th

Political Stock: BUY

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http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevinwax/files/2014/04/mike-huckabee-deborah-feingold-1.jpgMike Huckabee: Mike Huckabee made a disastrous decision this week to skip CPAC in favor of a religious broadcasters convention. This further indicates that Huckabee is attempting to shore up evangelical support and actively avoid any potential digging into his bare anti-Islam rhetoric.

Current Ranking: Unchanged: 14th

Political Stock: STRONG SELL

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http://cpac.conservative.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2014/11/CarlyFiorina.jpg

Carly Fiorina: Carly Fiorina is a new addition to the rankings this week. She gave an impassioned anti-Hillary speech at CPAC and has set her sights on being the most prominent female voice in the Republican Party in 2016.

Current Ranking: Added: 15th

Political Stock: BUY

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Unranked Speculative Candidates

Sarah Palin, Bob Ehrlich, John Bolton, Rob Portman, Asa Hutchinson, Nikki Haley

If any of these potential candidates make moves towards running, they will get a ranking.

Matt McDaniel

Attorney and Political Commentator

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