The Road to 2016: Power Rankings Week IV
POWER RANKINGS 2016
47 Weeks out of the Iowa Caucus
87 Weeks out of Election Day 2016
There are currently 0 national candidates declared.
First Class Speculative Candidates, GOP
.Scott Walker: Governor Walker still sits at the top of the Power Rankings for the fourth week in a row. Governor Walker continues to dominate the earliest polling indicating a strong first-tier status. It is far too early to tell whether Walker is merely the “flavor of the month” while other candidates get their campaigns together, or whether Walker’s rise will be able to translate into a runaway. Walker has been getting considerable press in the past week as the frontrunner, especially after his well-received speech at CPAC. This week was better for Walker than several prior weeks that were, through little fault of Walker’s, taking shots at his credentials and beliefs. The biggest critic of Walker may very well not be the media, but may be the other Republican Presidential hopefuls as they decide it’s time to start going after the man at the top of the polls.
Current Rating: Unchanged: 1st
Political Stock: HOLD- Downgrade from last week because of potential coming attacks from other GOP Candidates
Rand Paul: Rand Paul finally had a good week. Among a friendly crowd at CPAC, Paul gave a rousing speech where he defined his libertarian brand of Republicanism. Paul, unsurprisingly, won the CPAC straw poll for a third year in a row. Though Paul was he presumptive frontrunner in the poll, his victory was not a foregone conclusion. His ability to face down Scott Walker is a measured success. Paul was criticized later in the week because of his unenthusiastic clapping for Benjamin Netanyahu during Netanyahu’s address to the Congress. While this attack has all of the hallmarks of the same hawkish critics of his father, Paul was able to deflect most of the criticism as being, rightly, ridiculous. While Paul’s support of Israel is a necessary “kiss of the ring” in the GOP primary, the libertarian-leaning movement in the Party is far less comfortable with Israel than the GOP hawks and may very well applaud Paul for Paul’s tepid response to Netanyahu.
Current Rating: 2nd
Up One Spot from Last Week
Political Stock: BUY- Upgraded
Second Class Speculative Candidates, GOP
Jeb Bush: When Rand Paul rises, Jeb Bush falls. This is Bush’s first week of the rankings below Paul. While a victory in the CPAC straw poll was never in the cards for Bush, a fifth place finish was embarrassing. More than that, however, was the amount of anti-Bush sentiment that was present at the conservative gathering. Certainly some of it was for show and a planned “walk out” of Bush’s speech never materialized, but Bush knows as well as anyone, that he will have to start making overtures to conservatives if he wants to survive the primaries. The big question for the coming months is: can Bush raise enough money to buy he good will of conservatives?
Current Rating: 3rd
Down One Spot from Last Week
Political Stock: HOLD- Unchanged
Mike Pence: A lot of folks are going to disagree with putting Governor Pence at 4th on the list. (He wasn’t even on the CPAC straw poll!) Good points notwithstanding, Pence is currently my pick for the “dark horse” candidate: conservative bona fides, fundraising power, electability, few-to-no scandals.
Pence’s run for the White House will be tied to the success or failure of Scott Walker in the next few months. If Walker can hold onto frontrunner status without being tarnished, there’s no reason for Pence to jump in for 2016. Rather, he’ll wait for 2020. However, if Walker seems to be losing his grip on the top, Pence is an easy candidate to slip into the field and make an extremely strong showing.
Current Rating: Unchanged 4th
Political Stock: STRONG BUY
Third Class Speculative Candidates, GOP
Dr. Ben Carson: Don’t let Dr. Carson’s big rise on the rankings list fool you, Ben Carson has had a bad week. In the short term, Carson’s strong showing at CPAC as well as his official opening of his Presidential exploratory committee would be strong indicators of early success. However, Carson’s nonsensical and flatly offensive comments about homosexuality has put him squarely in the crosshairs of the media. Regardless of Carson’s beliefs regarding gays, or his ultimate apology, making blanket statements on television about the root causes of sexuality are bafflingly bad politics. Certainly there are conservatives who have jumped to his defense or who are applauding his comments, but the comments affirm Carson’s prior statements on homosexuality.
The retirement of Barbara Mikulski in 2016 leaves a Senate seat open in the State of Maryland. Carson would bring national attention and money to the seat, but his recent comments have not played well in a State that supported gay marriage by referendum.
Current Rating: 5th
Up Five Spots from Last Week
Political Stock: STRONG SELL- sharp downgrade.
Ted Cruz: Ted Cruz has had a busy week. While he did beat out Jeb Bush at CPAC, his fourth place showing was mediocre given his reputation with the conservative base. However, this mild showing notwithstanding, Cruz has shown that he is likely in the horse race for the long haul. Cruz announced that he will be releasing a book at the end of June. He also announced a plan to replace Obamacare. Moreover, he took shots at the House GOP for caving on the DHS funding bill/Immigration reform challenge. All-in-all, Cruz is showing that he is the senatorial patron of the budding “Freedom Caucus” in the House.
Current Rating: 6th
Down 1 Spot from Last Week
Political Stock: HOLD- downgraded from last week
Marco Rubio: Senator Rubio released a tax plan this week that effectively modernizes the GOP’s position on tax breaks. Already seen as a likely contender for the GOP nomination, Rubio is pushing hard to increase his legislative talking points before coming under scrutiny if he declares his candidacy.
Current Rating: Unchanged: 7th
Political Stock: HOLD- unchanged
Bobby Jindal: When you get down deeper into the Republican field, a week of no news is both a good and a bad thing. For Jindal, the Louisiana governor with a very long road to get to the nomination, he needs to start separating himself from the pack or risk anonymity (and the lack of fundraising that comes with it). Jindal gave an interview to the Economist this week where he discusses some interesting foreign policy topics as well as the regular talking points of Obama and Jindal’s experience with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Current Rating: Unchanged: 8th
Political Stock: HOLD- unchanged
Chris Christie: Chris Christie is not having a good time in the race-before-the-race for the White House. Obviously, early polling is about as accurate as putting a finger in the air to predict next week’s weather. However, the way the wind is blowing, Christie should be very concerned. To make matters worse, Christie’s signature pension reshaping was invalidated by a judge and Christie endorsed a controversial settlement with Exxon Mobil. This tough time is made even more cringe-worthy by Christie’s telling supporters that he did well at CPAC.
The reason why Christie has not fallen farther in the rankings is because he has yet to play the most powerful card in his deck: the favors he’s owed from 2014. Christie used a lot of star power to help Republicans running for office across the country during the last election. There’s an outside chance that this support could bring him back from the bottom.
Current Rating: 9th
Down Three Spots from Last Week
Political Stock: SELL- unchanged
John Kasich: Governor Kasich had a better week this week and has put the brakes on the downward momentum felt when he didn’t attend CPAC. This week, Kasich was in DC to attend a speech given by Benjamin Netanyahu. This attendance was to both ride on the hawkish coattails of the media buzz surrounding the event and to give Kasich the chance to meet with some of DC’s top Republicans. Kasich will be heading to New Hampshire to further explore his run for the White House.
Current Rating: 10th
Down One Spots from Last Week
Political Stock: SELL- upgraded
Carly Fiorina: Carly Fiorina is up strongly this week because of her decision to forcibly go after Hillary Clinton in a speech at CPAC last week. Fiorina has looked at the GOP field and decided that she is the person to take up the mantle of being the anti-Hillary. Her strong comments have been well-received in conservative spheres and have put her name among many of the other likely contenders for the nomination. However, one speech and one issue will not drive Fiorina’s candidacy for very long. Moreover, her base is nearly nonexistent at this early stage.
Current Rating: 11th
Up Four Spots from Last Week
Political Stock: BUY- unchanged
Fourth Class Speculative Candidates, GOP
Rick Perry: Rick Perry launched a Super PAC this week aimed at raising his profile for a run in 2016. One of the first acts of the Super PAC was to release a foreign policy video that contained an outdated map of Iran. Obviously this does not build or break Perry’s Presidential campaign, but a candidate whose utterly disastrous fall began with a lack of attention to detail should be more cognizant of optics.
Current Rating: 12th
Down One Spots from Last Week
Political Stock: HOLD- Upgraded
Lindsey Graham: Outside of a war breaking out, a week where the Prime Minister of Israel speaks to Congress is the best thing Lindsey Graham can hope for. Graham, whose hawkish stance on Iran is almost Bond-Villain-esque, benefited from that policy being espoused by Prime Minister Netanyahu. Though Graham does not have rousing support among primary voters, it does look like Graham is actively exploring his bid for the White House in New Hampshire.
Current Ranking: Unchanged 13th
Political Stock: HOLD
Rick Santorum: Beyond Santorum’s speech at CPAC and his heavy campaigning in Iowa, he’s generated very little news this week. With his outspoken and hawkish views about Iran, his absence from Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress this week is interesting. Is it that no one gave him an invitation?
Current Rating: 14th
Down Two Spots from Last Week
Political Stock: SELL
Mike Huckabee: Mike Huckabee has been making his rhetorical case on social issues this week. He has reiterated his hawkish stance on Iran and will make a decision regarding the presidency at some point in the near future.
Current Rating: 15th
Down One Spot from Last Week
Political Stock: STRONG SELL
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.