The Road to 2016: Power Rankings Week XII

POWER RANKINGS 2016

39 Weeks out of the Iowa Caucus

79 Weeks out of Election Day 2016

There are currently 3 national GOP candidates declared.

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First Class Candidates, GOP

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Scott WaFile:Scott Walker by Gage Skidmore.jpglker:  Governor Walker retakes the top spot on the list this week after strong early polling in Iowa puts him as a clear frontrunner. While the race obviously remains very early and Governor Walker has yet to declare his candidacy, reports that Walker suffered from federal meddling and aggression from the Administration over his union-busting is likely to grow his base on the right. Though Walker’s name recognition is growing, it still remains to be seen what type of fundraising power Walker can bring to bear against likely establishment contender Jeb Bush. If there is such a thing, Walker has become the “establishment-conservative” candidate. Hard-identity, but non-fringe, elements of the right are beginning to see Walker as the best bet for Republicans in 2016.

Current Rating: Up one spot from last week to 1st

Political Stock: BUY

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Rand http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1360018/thumbs/o-RAND-PAUL-facebook.jpgPaul:  The Baltimore Riots are challenging to any Republican. Decades of Democrat abuse of the plight of inner city Americans for political gain is shameful, but for Republicans, it is difficult to address. Rand Paul has made one of the goals of his campaign to reach out to minority communities and be the helping hand back to the Republican Party that can bring economic advancement. However, Paul botched the message severely this week when he dismissively said that he was glad his train through Baltimore didn’t stop there on Tuesday night. What a great image it would have been if Paul’s train had stopped and he had joined the call for peace. Unfortunately, this was not to be. In another way, Paul’s treatment of America’s race policy has gotten a major setback from the Riots because Americans who are not in Baltimore are perceiving only the violence and not the underlying causes. Certainly the causes are not an excuse, but Paul’s helping hand to under-served urban minority communities is not getting a sympathetic view nationally.

Current Ranking: Down one spot this week to 2nd

Political Stock: STRONG BUY

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http://d35brb9zkkbdsd.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Marco-Rubio-Big-Smile-600x399.jpgMarco Rubio: While the press continues to see Rubio as a threat to Walker, I hold with the theory that Rubio’s goal is to take out Jeb Bush and earn a spot as Walker’s Vice President. Rubio has remained consistent on his hawkish foreign policy and continues to win support on the right for these positions. Again, any breaking political issue can hurt or help a sitting Senator far quicker than an ex-Governor. It remains to be seen what type of fundraising Rubio has been able to bring together to compete in the unfolding 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 is raising a lot of money behind the scenes. However, Bush’s moderate stance on immigration and bafflingly pro-common-core position are major turn offs to base voters. While Bush may think that pouring money onto his problems will be able to buy him enough votes to get past Marco Rubio, who is quickly becoming a thorn in the Bush campaign’s side, there is no guarantee. There are also rumors that there may be some campaign finance issues in the Bush camp that are delaying an entry into the race.

Current Rating: Unchanged, 4th

Political Stock: HOLD

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Second Class Candidates, GOP

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http://media.salon.com/2013/05/ted_cruz2.jpgTed Cruz:  Ted Cruz’s spot on the rankings remains the same, but I have placed him in the Second Class of Candidates this week. The reason for this is the growing perception that Cruz’s base has reached its peak enthusiasm too early. Cruz, for lack of a better term, is a “conservative Obama.” What I mean by this is that, as a first-term Senator, Cruz is a relatively blank slate from a policy perspective. Supporters know that Cruz checks all of the right boxes on the right and his positions fit well with the aggressively conservative mindset (take our country back, etc.). Cruz has been raking in money early and may have boxed out support for later entries by other social conservatives. However, hitting “peak Cruz” so early means that supporters may moderate when they see Cruz’s poll numbers not jumping. In turn, these supporters will flip to Scott Walker.

Current Rating: Unchanged 5th

Political Stock: HOLD

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John KFile:Governor John Kasich.jpgasich:  John Kasich appears to be emerging behind the scenes as the dark horse challenger to Jeb Bush’s control over the “establishment governor” narrative. While Kasich’s support is not an extensive base, he will quickly look like a palatable alternative once the national mood begins to really feel the potential of a Clinton v. Bush campaign. Kasich could benefit from a fractious fight between Bush and Rubio and pick up moderates who grow disaffected with Scott Walker once they realize that he is not the blank conservative slate that they expected him to be. Kasich, as governor of Ohio, is a very powerful influence broker in the 2016 narrative. Though most any Ohio poll will tell you that Kasich certainly cannot guarantee his home state, his profile would be better to bring in the swing state than not.

Current Rating: Unchanged 6th

Political Stock: BUY

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Third Class Candidates, GOP

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File:Chris Christie 2011 Shankbone.JPGChris Christie: Will he, won’t he, will he, won’t he? It seems that even Governor Christie doesn’t know if he will make a run for the White House. Regardless, this week Christie offered and sent New Jersey police to help in the Baltimore Riots. Christie was a major supporter of Maryland’s newly-elected Republican Governor Larry Hogan. Like other Republican officials around the country who benefited from Christie’s popularity in the last few years, Hogan knows that he owes Christie a few favors if the New Jersey Governor decides to make a run at DC.

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: Lindsey Graham may be announcing his candidacy in late May, but that still remains to be seen. He has raised his profile by going after Rand Paul who is perceived to be the weakest candidate from a foreign policy perspective. Paul and Graham have exchanged some sniping that has allowed Paul a forum to grow and explain his dovish-hawkish nuanced approach to foreign affairs. It still looks unlikely, outside of a major terrorist attack or a Russian invasion of Poland, that Graham will look like a suitable candidate for the average Republican voter.

Current Ranking: Unchanged: 8th

Political Stock: HOLD

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

Carly Fiorina: Carly Fiorina has set her sights on an entry into the Presidential race in early May. Fiorina is one of the “why not” candidates on the list. There is really no downside to Fiorina deciding to throw her hat in the ring. If anything, she will raise her national profile dramatically and be a sought-after anti-Hillary commodity as the primary process drags on. Her candidacy may also be able to erase her disastrous political history and perceived inability to run a state-wide election effort. A well-run, if futile, national campaign may give her a better shot about running in a future California election. She is at the bottom of a short list for Vice President, or the middle of a long list. Despite her being a long-shot, Fiorina does have some early momentum building in Iowa.

Current Ranking: Unchanged, 9th.

Political Stock: HOLD

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File:Bobby Jindal by Gage Skidmore.jpgBobby Jindal: Governor Jindal really wants to enter the race for President in 2016 but the State of Louisiana is not helping him out. The state’s economy is hurting and Jindal and the Louisiana legislature isn’t helping. While Jindal could still mount a “dark horse” challenge to Scott Walker, it remains unclear exactly who Jindal’s core of supporters would be. While Jindal checks all of the conservative boxes, it just seems like there are other candidates in the race that check them to a higher degree. In the event Walker is embroiled in scandal or Jindal suddenly gets favorable coverage, the assessment of his candidacy may change. However, at this point, I am giving him a delisting warning. While he still may run, or be in talks to get a Vice Presidential nod, I just don’t see Jindal as a force in 2016.

Current Ranking: Unchanged, 10th.

Political Stock: SELL: DELIST WARNING

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http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/49/Ben_Carson_by_Gage_Skidmore_2.jpgDr. Ben Carson: Dr. Carson, like several other candidates on the list are “why not” candidates. There is no real downside to Carson making a run for the White House. While there is virtually no chance of becoming the nominee, Carson’s candidacy raises his national profile and makes him an important voice. While it is overly-simplistic to look at Carson as merely adding diversity to the Republican primary, the fact that Carson can make overtures to minority communities should not be discounted out of hand. The problem with Carson has been his lack of political acumen. While no one can begrudge him his opinion, the manner in which he has presented sensitive issues have been jarringly undiplomatic. While this may appeal to a very small amount of people who are seeking tough rhetoric on cultural issues, it is not befitting a candidate for the nation’s highest office.

Current Ranking: Unchanged 11th

Political Stock: SELL

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http://www.texaswatchdog.org/files/rickperry_5.jpgRick Perry: Former Governor Perry may very well be wanting to run for President. However, it’s still unclear exactly who would support him and who would be paying for the campaign. Perry does not have the fundraising prowess of Jeb Bush nor does he have the sitting-governor credentials of Scott Walker. Certainly Perry may be waiting to see if the Bush candidacy collapses, but that is really no way to get oneself elected Leader of the Free World. Perry is not being given a delist warning because he has enough backing that he could push a campaign into gear on short notice using the fumes of his 2012 disastrous run.

Current Ranking: Unchanged, 12th.

Political Stock: SELL

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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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http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevinwax/files/2014/04/mike-huckabee-deborah-feingold-1.jpgMike Huckabee: Mike Huckabee is likely to enter the race in early May. He was delisted because his campaign looks to be little more than a marketing gimmick for his brand. Moreover, his sharp rhetoric is out of touch with many Americans. Likewise, candidates like Ted Cruz better encapsulate the message Huckabee intends to put forward.

Current Ranking: DELISTED

Political Stock: JUNK

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http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c9/Mike_Pence%2C_official_portrait%2C_112th_Congress.jpgMike Pence: Mike Pence was delisted last week. His drop from fourth place in the rankings to the dustbin reflect poor politics and even poorer message control. While he was successful at raising his national profile, Pence both angered large numbers of moderates and opinion-shapers. However, this could still work for him if he had made himself a counter-cultural conservative avenger. Rather than embrace that image, he folded his tent, gave in to the wind of public disfavor and changed his mind. Thus, his brand was tainted because he looks both like an anti-progress hater and like he has no spine on issues of culture. There is a chance that Pence can rehabilitate his image and run in 2020. As of now, he will have no business running for the presidency in 2016.

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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