The Road to 2016: Power Rankings Week IX

POWER RANKINGS 2016

42 Weeks out of the Iowa Caucus

82 Weeks out of Election Day 2016

There are currently 2 national candidates declared.

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First Class Candidates, GOP

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Rand http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1360018/thumbs/o-RAND-PAUL-facebook.jpgPaul: In a move most folks who watch politics will disagree with, I am moving Rand Paul to the top of the list of potential GOP Presidential hopefuls this week. The reason for this move is grounded in the confluence of two events: Senator Paul’s launch of his official bid for the Presidency and his strong showing in state-level polls when pitted against Hillary Clinton. Paul’s campaign launch did not draw as much fire as Ted Cruz’s. This could be because Paul is less detested on the left and in the media than Cruz (whose Christian conservative message even rubs libertarians the wrong way). It could also be because the novelty of the “first man in the race” wasn’t present with Paul’s announcement. However, the media was quick to jump on everything Rand for the past few days. Though Rand has been depicted as not having a firm footing on where he stands on the issues and not dealing well with reporters, he still has made it a point of bringing his pet issues to the forefront of coverage. It remains to be seen whether he will actually retain the top spot for long. Secondly, Senator Paul has had a string of excellent polls showing that he is a viable contender to beat Hillary Clinton. In PA, IA, and CO, Senator Paul has strong support against a presumptive Clinton nomination. This could help Paul’s fundraising early. The reason for his gains are probably an equal part message and Hillary Clinton’s subtle campaign implosion.

Current Ranking: 1st, Up 1 spot from last week

Political Stock: STRONG BUY

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Scott WaFile:Scott Walker by Gage Skidmore.jpglker: With Rand Paul trending into the top spot, Governor Walker must vacate the position he’s held for the last eight weeks. This downgrade shouldn’t be that jarring because it comes as a result of large media attention focused on Senator Paul rather than negatives about Governor Walker. It remains likely that Walker will retake the top spot once additional polls show him leading in the early stages of the GOP primary. It still remains to be seen when Walker will actually make his candidacy official. Because he is not under pressure like Senators Paul, Cruz, and Rubio to announce before May, Walker could wait into the summer and stick with fundraising in the mean time. However, Walker needs to stay relevant in the mind of voters and prevent the early entrants into the race from overshadowing his eventual conservative message.

Current Rating: 2nd, Down 1 Spot from Last Week

Political Stock: BUY

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http://media.salon.com/2013/05/ted_cruz2.jpgTed Cruz: Love him or hate him, Ted Cruz made the calculation to run to the right and stand on the support of the evangelical right. Senator Cruz is expecting huge amounts of campaign money to flow into his sizable war chest over the next few weeks. Considering that money is going to be the real test for Cruz’s ability to stay in the race and make a real play at the nomination, he is proving to be an able fundraiser. More than this, as Cruz is presumptively trying to sway voters who would otherwise be supporters of Scott Walker, Cruz is benefiting from Walker’s lack of spotlight attention for the past two weeks (Cruz’s announcement, the Pence-RFRA affair, and Paul’s announcement dominated the political headlines). With Hillary Clinton’s announcement on Sunday, it looks unlikely that Walker will be in a position to make news for what will have amounted to a month. Cruz can seize on this and draw more money and support to himself early in the race.

Current Rating: Unchanged: 3rd

Political Stock: BUY

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Jehttp://media.oregonlive.com/opinion_impact/photo/jeb-bush-20119761jpg-a137a6bdd738a087.jpgb Bush: Jeb Bush still has the money and the clout with the establishment wing of the Republican Party to be considered in the top tier of GOP candidates for President. Like Governor Walker, Bush has been out of the spotlight for several weeks. While this can hurt candidates like Walker who thrive on the passion of the base, Bush is still quietly buying all of the influence he needs behind the scenes. Make no mistake, when Jeb announces, he will have a huge amount of money to throw at the campaign. Again unlike Walker, Bush can bide his time until the summer without having any other top tier candidates erode his eventual support.

Current Rating: Unchanged: 4th

Political Stock: HOLD

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Second Class Candidates, GOP

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http://d35brb9zkkbdsd.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Marco-Rubio-Big-Smile-600x399.jpgMarco Rubio: Senator Rubio is likely to announce his bid for the White House in the coming week. Though potentially overshadowed by the announcement by Hillary Clinton on Sunday, Rubio will be the third and final GOP Senator to throw his respective hat in the ring for the White House. Rubio, whose main competition is Jeb Bush for the heart and soul of the GOP establishment, has yet to clearly define his base of support. While he has a Super PAC to push for his goals and campaign slogans, it remains unclear if Rubio is really going to push for grassroots conservative support or if he’s going to be catering to business and DC-insider interests. The campaigns of both Ted Cruz and Rand Paul feed off of the boisterous support of large groundswells in popular opinion. Rubio, however, who has vocal detractors on the right, may not be able to generate the same kind of outpouring early in the campaign.

Current Rating: Unchanged: 5th

Political Stock: BUY

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Third Class Candidates, GOP

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John KFile:Governor John Kasich.jpgasich: The biggest beneficiary of Mike Pence’s utter implosion has been Governor Kasich of Ohio. Kasich is now the establishment insider dark horse candidate to oppose Jeb Bush. If Kasich decides to run, his power as a sitting swing state governor, along with his connections within the Party, could create a rift that may cause huge problems for Jeb Bush. Realistically, the insiders in the Party are far better at dealing with potential problem candidates than the grassroots or fringe. If there is a real possibility that Kasich could draw support away from Bush, a likely deal will be struck where Kasich would have considerable support in a 2020 run if he decides to play ball in 2016 by sitting out then throwing his influence behind Jeb. Call me cynical, but the Party does not like establishment division.

Current Rating: Unchanged 6th

Political Stock: BUY

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File:Chris Christie 2011 Shankbone.JPGChris Christie: As we called it a few weeks ago, the Christie campaign hit bottom and is making an attempt at bouncing back. Whether or not this bounce is anything more than some speculation remains to be seen. However, in the absence of new scandals and with the media having had time to move away from nitpicking everything the Governor of New Jersey has been saying, Christie’s support may be inching its way back up. This isn’t to say that Christie is in the top tier. Not by a long shot. However, as we have repeated numerous times, Christie is owed a lot of favors among governors who got elected after a Christie endorsement. Moreover, with the indictment of Senator Bob Menendez,

Current Ranking: Unchanged 7th

Political Stock: HOLD

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Fourth Class Speculative Candidates, GOP

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http://fitsnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/graham.jpgLindsey Graham: The cutoff for the Fourth Class of speculative candidates has moved up this week. Lindsey Graham’s first task is to attack Rand Paul. It makes sense: Graham wants to be the hawkest hawk. Rand Paul is the dovest hawk. However, like Senators Paul, Rubio, and Cruz, if Graham wants to get in the race, he needs to announce in the next few weeks. If he doesn’t he will have to wait until Memorial Day or later. This is not ideal considering the lack of media coverage a late announcement like this will generate. It does not appear that Graham has the ground game in any early state to make an official announcement any time soon. Therefore, he is likely relegated to being a kingmaker in South Carolina and acting as a Party firestop if Rand Paul wins big in both Iowa and New Hampshire.

Current Ranking: Unchanged: 8th

Political Stock: BUY

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http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/49/Ben_Carson_by_Gage_Skidmore_2.jpgDr. Ben Carson: As predicted, Ben Carson’s support has been siphoned away to Ted Cruz. While Cruz supporters would go out of their way to say that they support Dr. Carson, the fact that Cruz is likely more electable and saying many of the same things without the baggage of bad press appearances, it looks like there’s not much support for a Carson Presidency.

Current Ranking: Unchanged: 9th

Political Stock: SELL

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http://www.texaswatchdog.org/files/rickperry_5.jpgRick Perry: Rick Perry remains a bit of an enigma. Considering his late start and disastrous campaign in 2012, he should be making more of a splash early if he really intends to run again. While he is pursuing a ground game in both Iowa and New Hampshire, there’s really no evidence that he’s making the type of connections or fundraising that can keep a candidate afloat in the race to come.

Current Ranking: Unchanged 10th

Political Stock: HOLD

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File:Bobby Jindal by Gage Skidmore.jpgBobby Jindal: Bobby Jindal has been pushing for a ground game in Iowa and New Hampshire but whoever is managing his public image just isn’t getting it right. After the implosion of Mike Pence last week, Jindal’s people thought that a religious freedom bill of their own would win support. This is either a vain attempt at getting last-ditch supporters or a very poor misreading of the national climate with regards to the fallout over Indiana’s RFRA debacle. Jindal either needs new people or a new message. As it exists right now, he needs to focus on being Governor of Louisiana and keep his ambitions away from the nation’s top job.

Current Ranking: Unchanged 11th

Political Stock: SELL

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http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c9/Mike_Pence%2C_official_portrait%2C_112th_Congress.jpgMike Pence: What can you say about Mike Pence? When all the smoke has cleared over the devastation the RFRA incident caused for Pence’s political future, the postmortem likely will conclude that he tragically misjudged the way the nation has been moving on social issues. There may be some slim hope that the media attention paid to Pence last week raised his prominence in the minds of conservatives and brought him onto the Tea Party’s radar, but the Tea Party and the grassroots evangelicals already have found their man in Ted Cruz (or Scott Walker). Pence could have been an exceptional compromise candidate for conservatives and establishment Republicans, but now there is no way he can build that bridge. Party insiders understand the demographic shift. No one who looks at polls is going to throw a life preserver to Pence whose national image is so tarnished.

Current Ranking: Unchanged: 12th

Political Stock: STRONG SELL: DELIST WARNING

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http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevinwax/files/2014/04/mike-huckabee-deborah-feingold-1.jpgMike Huckabee: Mike Huckabee is getting his first delist warning this week. The only news he made was criticizing Rand Paul. While I suppose this appeals to a sliver of the ultra-hawks on the right, the fact that the man has made no news of his own and that his entire potential base has been swallowed up by Ted Cruz generally leaves him with no chance.

Current Ranking: Unchanged: 13th

Political Stock: SELL: DELIST WARNING

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

Carly Fiorina: Carly Fiorina remains on the list as a potential candidate because California and Hillary Clinton are in the news. While Fiorina has basically no shot at the Presidency, she is extremely useful to the GOP to attack Hillary Clinton.

Current Ranking: Unchanged: 14th

Political Stock: HOLD

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DELISTED CANDIDATES

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http://c1355372.cdn.cloudfiles.rackspacecloud.com/4d77c29a-b959-4be9-8730-f88f56a2297a/RJSportrait.jpgRick Santorum: There has been no movement on the Santorum front in weeks. With other social conservatives in the race, there is no viability to a Santorum campaign. It’s not worth covering at this time.

Current Ranking: DELISTED

Political Stock: JUNK

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Unranked Speculative Candidates

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

We are not ranking Donald Trump. His proposed candidacy is a farce.

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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