The Road to 2016: Power Rankings Week XVI

POWER RANKINGS 2016

35 Weeks out of the Iowa Caucus

75 Weeks out of Election Day 2016

There are currently 9 national GOP 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: Like him or hate him, Senator Rand Paul has been controlling the narrative in DC for the past week. While, on the one hand, Paul’s seemingly lonely fight for liberty has reignited his base of supporters who had seen Paul drifting towards moderating, on the other hand, Paul is now squarely outside of the GOP establishment. While Paul had been gaining some momentum within the inner circles of GOP power, he took the calculated risk that his base was more important than making overtures to the Party elite. We should not be so enthralled with Paul to think that his stand was purely altruistic. We know that Paul is having a very difficult time financing his campaign and is needing to rely on smaller donors. This problem will likely only be exacerbated when he is the punching bag at the debates. However, what the GOP doesn’t realize is that, in the end, Paul’s message resonates with millennials. The GOP abandons Paul at its peril.

Current Ranking: Unchanged at 1st

Political Stock: BUY

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Scott WaFile:Scott Walker by Gage Skidmore.jpglker:  Scott Walker moves back into second this week for the same reason that he had fallen in the rankings in previous weeks: staying out of the headlines. Walker is deftly positioning himself for the long run of the campaign and does not want to be at the top of the race to draw criticism before entering the race. Walker is polling the highest in Iowa and making significant headway nationally. Walker will benefit both from the decline of Jeb Bush and the declines of any of the other “conservative” candidates. It now remains only to see how much of a war chest Walker has built in order to finance his message once the real race begins.

Current Rating: Up one spot to 2nd

Political Stock: BUY

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http://d35brb9zkkbdsd.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Marco-Rubio-Big-Smile-600x399.jpgMarco Rubio: Marco Rubio has a choice: whether or not to embrace the title of the “GOP’s Obama.” Now, clearly the appellation is not one that anyone on the Republican side would want, but the young, minority, freshman Senator with experience in the State legislature is a narrative that Americans have heard before. We also know that being able to put your own political ideas onto a relatively blank slate of a candidate is a powerful tool to get elected nationally. Rubio is building momentum and has a growing number of followers. As I have mentioned her before, Rubio is the silver bullet to take down Jeb Bush’s campaign. He is also the first choice for Scott Walker’s Vice President.

Current Rating: Down 1 spot to 3rd

Political Stock: BUY

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Ted Cruz: Ted Cruz refused to stand with Rand Paul on the NSA Patriot Act renewal debate. This was another part of Cruz’s shrewd calculating to get him the hard-right votes he needs to make a significant impact on the 2016 race. We have seen for the last several months that Cruz is positioning himself to be the evangelical candidate in the election. Cruz’s supporters will be drawn heavily from those who had supported Huckabee and Santorum in the previous races. Cruz, by far a better speaker and with a better campaign team than those other two, is planning to keep a tight hold on his supporters. The reason he ranks so high each week is because his base is starting to lock even further into place. Without another major hard-right player in the mix, Cruz will have a bloc of around 10% when the campaign starts. Added to this the large amount of fundraising we expect to see in the first months of his campaign and we can see a formidable run.

Current Rating: Unchanged at 4th

Political Stock: HOLD

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Jehttp://media.oregonlive.com/opinion_impact/photo/jeb-bush-20119761jpg-a137a6bdd738a087.jpgb Bush: Jeb Bush’s star continues to diminish. Sitting on the sidelines and raising money while taking easy snipes at other candidates in the race is not how you win a presidency. The millstone of his brother’s difficult term in office is a convenient story to cover up the far worse narrative for Bush: that GOP voters are not interested in big-government moderates being selected for them by the establishment elite in the Party. The fact that Bush has not held office in a decade and that his policies are seen as compromising conservative principles have started to weigh on the Republican voters. Many who would support Jeb are now looking to the new faces of the Party like Walker and Rubio.

Current Rating: Unchanged at 5th.

Political Stock: HOLD

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Second Class Candidates, GOP

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John KFile:Governor John Kasich.jpgasich:  John Kasich is not polling well at the moment. Despite this troubling fact, he is the sitting governor of a powerful swing state. As Jeb Bush begins to diminish and the barriers for entry into the Republican race falter, expect to see Kasich make his entry. As a sitting governor, Kasich will have some sway in attracting establishment voters who would otherwise have to support candidates who have not served in office for up to a decade. In the event there is a major falter in the Bush campaign, Kasich and Rubio would be the major beneficiaries. The big question at this point is how much money Kasich could actually raise for a campaign. Moreover, if Kasich cannot break the top ten candidates in polling, he may not be able to participate in the early debates where candidates will be able to define themselves for voters.

Current Rating: Unchanged 6th

Political Stock: HOLD

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Third Class Candidates, GOP

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File:Chris Christie 2011 Shankbone.JPGChris Christie: Chris Christie, along with Lindsey Graham, are the two big-name GOP folks who have come out against Rand Paul and reform/repeal of the Patriot Act. It remains unclear exactly what kind of money Christie could bring to bear if he decided to make a run for the White House. Like others on this list with an indeterminate future entrance to the race, Christie is losing out on valuable time to define himself on a national stage (in his case, re-define himself and get money). Christie’s attempt to be the anti-libertarian candidate is a gamble.

Current Ranking: Unchanged 7th

Political Stock: HOLD

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http://fitsnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/graham.jpgLindsey Graham: Lindsey Graham is the “fear candidate.” If there is a “dark horse,” Lindsey Graham is the headless horseman. Graham is a long shot ultra-hawk who will make his sole purpose in the debate criticism of Rand Paul and civil liberties. The way Graham could succeed is, as we have mentioned before, if ISIS makes huge strides in the Middle East, Russia invades Latvia or more of Ukraine, or if the United States is hi by a major terrorist attack on home soil. Graham will use one or more of these events as a catalyst to fuel the American desire for revenge and military action and try to ride that wave into the White House.

Current Ranking: Unchanged at 8th

Political Stock: BUY

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Fourth Class Speculative Candidates, GOP

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george_patakiGeorge Pataki: The former NY Governor has declared his candidacy for the presidency. It remains unclear what Pataki’s true motives are in making a run at an ultra-long-shot bid, but there really is no discernible downside. Perhaps the reason for the run stems from the faltering Jeb Bush campaign and the potential undecided moderates and establishment voters who may be interested in supporting another former Governor. Like Giuliani before him, Pataki will likely run on a “remember 9/11” motif which, after 14 years, is patronizing, if stale.

Current Ranking: Unchanged 9th.

Political Stock: SELL

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http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/49/Ben_Carson_by_Gage_Skidmore_2.jpgDr. Ben Carson: After his announcement, Ben Carson has generally faded from the public’s spotlight. His time in Baltimore after the riots was generally well- received. Carson remains a niche candidate with some supporters. It remains unclear what kind of money the Carson campaign is raising at this point. Much of his political future rests on campaign finance filings and performance in future debates.

Current Ranking: Unchanged 10th

Political Stock: HOLD

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Carly Fiorina: Carly Fiorina remains on the war path against Hillary Clinton. This is her campaign schtick and she is certainly running with it. It remains unclear to what degree Fiorina will go after other Republicans in the race. In a way, she may have the ability to come across as the adult/peacemaker between certain factions once debates get underway. Expect Fiorina to have a good fiscal showing because of her connections and friends. It remains unclear about subsequent quarters, however.

Current Ranking: Unchanged 11th

Political Stock: HOLD

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File:Bobby Jindal by Gage Skidmore.jpgBobby Jindal: Governor Jindal was the other week, but was relisted. Jindal took steps early last week to form an exploratory committee. Since it looks like he will make a run for the White House, he should be on the main list. While his stewardship of Louisiana has not engendered much praise, we have noted that Jindal has been trying to build an early presence in Iowa and New Hampshire. It still remains unclear, what, if anything, Jindal is offering that Scott Walker is not also offering. It will be a major test for Jindal in the first months of his nascent campaign to see how much money he will be able to bring in from supporters.

Current Ranking: Unchanged 12th

Political Stock: SELL: DELIST WARNING

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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 getting another delist warning this week because this lack of any movement is indicating that Perry has not learned from his previous late entry.

Current Ranking: Down one sport to 13th

Political Stock: DELIST WARNING

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http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevinwax/files/2014/04/mike-huckabee-deborah-feingold-1.jpgMike Huckabee: Mike Huckabee’s candidacy for President is baffling. Now, I understand that there is large appeal for a boisterous evangelical warning that sin is causing America’s decline, but the reality that someone who holds himself out as a pastor yet mocks transgendered people can poll so high is stomach-turning. The GOP is short-sighted if it thinks that the optics of a Huckabee candidacy will help attract voters to the Party. Rather, the decline in support for the GOP is genuinely linked to the rise of people like Huckabee who stand on moral high horses and alienate large segments of the young population. Additionally, with the decline of religious fervor in America, the hypocrisy of Huckabee embracing confessed pedophile Josh Duggar while condemning Caitlyn Jenner undermines his holier-than-thou stance on the issues.

Current Ranking: TEMPORARY REINSTATEMENT

Political Stock: JUNK

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DELISTED CANDIDATES

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http://c1355372.cdn.cloudfiles.rackspacecloud.com/4d77c29a-b959-4be9-8730-f88f56a2297a/RJSportrait.jpgRick Santorum: Rick Santorum is running for President. While Mike Huckabee’s relatively strong poll numbers forced me to raise him from the oblivion for delisting, Santorum’s do not. Santorum’s candidacy and his political positions are what’s wrong with the GOP today.

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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