The Road to 2016: Power Rankings Week XXVII

POWER RANKINGS 2016

22 Weeks out of the Iowa Caucus

62 Weeks out of Election Day 2016

There are currently 17 national GOP candidates declared.

Disclaimer: Matt McDaniel, the author of this piece is a candidate for the First District City Council Seat in Baltimore City. While this rankings list does not touch or concern Mr. McDaniel’s race, in the interest of disclosure, Mr. McDaniel has made no endorsements of any candidates and has received no money or funding from any of the candidates on this list. His campaign website can be found here.

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First Class Candidates, GOP

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maar02-donald-trump-portraitDonald Trump: Donald Trump remains at the top of the rankings this week. It’s impossible to tell if Trump is making his campaign up as he goes along, or if he has completely outwitted both the journalistic and Republican establishments. In signing the loyalty pledge this week (that he would not run as a Third Party candidate and would support whoever was the eventual Republican nominee), Trump made the Republican Party look like it was terrified of him. Trump was able to get the Chairman of the Party to come to New York to personally request that Trump not run as a Third Party candidate. Trump, milking the opportunity, and knowing that every news media outlet would be watching, not only signed the pledge but then held an impromptu news conference where he was able to further write the narrative of the campaign.

If Trump is just making things up as he goes, then he has had extraordinary luck. Therefore, it stands to reason that, if this is just flying along without a plan, sometime the luck will run out and Trump will diminish. If, however, Trump has been underestimated and is playing the media and the establishment like fiddles, then he stands to have a shot at the nomination. If he is savvy enough to get to the top so quickly and has a master plan, then there is very little, aside from apathy and Trump fatigue, that can stop him.

Current Ranking: 1st

Political Stock: PRIVATE

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Second Class Candidates, GOP

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John KFile:Governor John Kasich.jpgasich: John Kasich is the dark horse of the race and will move up in the rankings as the establishment support and money begins to leave Jeb Bush. Generally avoiding the Trump maelstrom and having a solid FoxNews debate performance, Kasich has set himself up to look like the “adult” in the room as voters come closer to the primaries. In addition, Kasich has picked up several noteworthy endorsements early in the race. Such endorsements are likely not made idly. Behind the scenes, the establishment machine is already beginning to take down the Bush signs and replace them with Kasich.

Current Rating: 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: Senator Rubio is biding his time and not making waves this early in the race. This is a smart political move when the field is full of candidates making outrageous comments that will, almost certainly, come back to bite them when the field narrows. Rubio may be able to pick up supporters from the falling Scott Walker. A likely union of Kasich and Rubio seems very probable, especially given the reality that both of them have a mutual threat in Jeb Bush.

Current Ranking: 3rd

Political Stock: BUY

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Jehttp://media.oregonlive.com/opinion_impact/photo/jeb-bush-20119761jpg-a137a6bdd738a087.jpgb Bush: Jeb Bush is at least trying now, let’s give him that. For weeks, Bush has languished in the shadow of Donald Trump as Trump continued his upward surge. A constant punching bag, Bush looked weak as Trump took easy shots at Bush. The problem for Bush, now striking back at Trump in every way he can muster, is that Trump has already defined Bush as being lackluster, boring, and part of the problem. With nearly half of Republican voters choosing outsiders as their preferred candidate, there is a growing fear in the Bush camp that the former Florida Governor’s chance at the nomination is quickly evaporating. Bush has enough money to keep him in the race for the long haul, but if he consistently begins to poll in single-digits, his campaign will start to sputter. Expect to see him put everything on the line at the next Republican debate.

Current Rating: 4th

Political Stock: SELL

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http://media.salon.com/2013/05/ted_cruz2.jpg

Ted Cruz: Ted Cruz is biding his time and hoping to pick up supporters that may leave Trump. This has been the smart political call so far. Everything that Cruz has done has been to position himself with the radical, ideologues of the Tea Party base who see a broken establishment Republican Party. So far, despite the fact that Cruz is roundly condemned on Capitol Hill and elsewhere for being someone who is extremely uncooperative, Cruz’s reputation with the vocal base is growing. More than anything, Cruz’s supporters love to see that he does not play ball in Washington and like him even more because of that fact.

Current Rating: 5th

Political Stock: HOLD (if you are a gambler)

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Third Class Candidates, GOP

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http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/49/Ben_Carson_by_Gage_Skidmore_2.jpgDr. Ben Carson: Why is Ben Carson so low on the list when he’s polling in second place?! The simple answer is that Dr. Carson’s bump is similar to the 2008 and 2004 frontrunner bumps of the Herman Caine, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Perry campaigns. Dr. Carson has gotten better at answering questions and public relations, but he is still, unfortunately, dogged by his stumbles over foreign policy issues. While many of his supporters see him as, first, an outsider, and second, an alternative to Trump, one should think that supporters are actually using him as a stepping stone to eventually make the decision on whether to support Trump or Cruz (notice that Carson’s rise has not been met with a Trump fall, therefore, Carson is seemingly a gateway candidate towards consolidation of the “we want an outsider” voting demographic). None of this should be taken as a sleight on Carson. He knows precisely what his followers are looking for and want to hear about. However, his lack of political acumen at this juncture should be significantly concerning to anyone betting on his nomination.

Current Ranking: Up 2 to 6th

Political Stock: HOLD

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

Carly Fiorina: Carly Fiorina got a win this week when CNN modified its debate polling parameters and cleared the way for Ms. Fiorina to join the “grownups” at the primetime debate. This will be Ms. Fiorina’s make-or-break moment. She has been riding some momentum from her solid performance at the FoxNews Happy Hour Debate, but her real test will be when 20-30 million people decide to tune in to CNN later this month. The discussion behind the closed doors of Ms. Fiorina’s campaign is likely centered on whether she attacks Trump or Hillary Clinton. The smart thing for Ms. Fiorina to do would be to avoid Trump (despite the War on Women narrative being a very appealing shot) and focus on Clinton. When voters can see Ms. Fiorina as being the “anti-Clinton” rather than just another Trump basher, she may win over supporters from Trump and others who are looking for viability in the General Election. A great deal remains up in the air for Ms. Fiorina, so it will be one of the more interesting campaigns to watch.

Current Ranking: Up 2 to 7th

Political Stock: BUY

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Scott WaFile:Scott Walker by Gage Skidmore.jpglker: The fall of Scott Walker is unfortunate. His story: winning three elections despite the full weight of the national Democrat machine pushing against him, was compelling. While it is far too early for a post mortem of the Walker Campaign, the fact that a potential frontrunner has decided that the best way to manage the Trump storm is to try to out-Trump Trump is ludicrous. The one thing Scott Walker did not need more than no press was bad press. While for some candidates any press is good press, for Walker, who many had hoped to be the conservative White Knight riding in to save the base from the establishment, Walker is quickly being “Palin-ized” as someone outside of the mainstream with ideas that seem less-than-thought-out (like, building a wall across the Canadian border). Walker needs to fire most of his advisers if he wants to make any comeback.

Current Rating: Down 2 to 8th

Political Stock: BUY

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Fourth Class Candidates, GOP

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Rand http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1360018/thumbs/o-RAND-PAUL-facebook.jpgPaul: Any signs of viability left in Rand Paul’s campaign are quickly vanishing. Grasping wildly for social media points with a “selfie” app that the internet quickly realized was a great way to poke fun at the Kentucky Senator, Paul is scrambling to get any money that he can. What so many people had predicted to be the campaign to watch break new ground and engage millennials has ground down to a halt. With Senator Paul’s decision this week to support Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis’ decision to use her office to discriminate against the rights of gays and lesbians, Senator Paul sent the final message to libertarians everywhere that there was no sense in defending his campaign. It was a calculated betrayal of principle that was meant to secure his reelection as a Senator from Kentucky. When the next fundraising numbers come out, expect Paul’s campaign to lag even further behind than it already did.

Current Ranking:  Down 2 to 9th

Political Stock: SELL

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File:Chris Christie 2011 Shankbone.JPGChris Christie: Governor Christie’s poll numbers have generally collapsed. It’s unclear how much longer the New Jersey Governor will be able to remain in the race without some kind of significant press. If he is on the main stage at the CNN debate, he will have to try to assert his personality over Donald Trump. With everyone attacking Trump, Christie may just seem like he’s adding his voice to a cacophony.

Current Ranking: 10th

Political Stock: HOLD

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http://fitsnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/graham.jpgLindsey Graham: There has been very little news out of Senator Graham’s campaign this week. The only real press Graham is getting is that he trails made-up candidates in the polls. It’s unlikely that the South Carolina Senator can fundraise on that message. As we have pointed out before, if foreign policy issues raise their head, Graham’s prominence will rise among the hawks in the Republican base. Until then, his campaign will stay in its hibernation.

Current Ranking: 11th

Political Stock: STRONG SELL

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http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevinwax/files/2014/04/mike-huckabee-deborah-feingold-1.jpgMike Huckabee: Governor Huckabee’s poll numbers have fallen to basically nothing. His shameless support of Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis’ defiance of the law is an attempt to be controversial and divisive. He knows, as does everyone involved, that Davis’ incarceration has nothing to do with her particular religion, but rather her decision not to follow the law. Huckabee is trying to use this as a wedge issue to get publicity. Unfortunately, this will further alienate the gay and lesbian community and set back Republican relationships with millennials.

Current Ranking: 12th

Political Stock: SELL- DELIST WARNING

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Fifth Class Candidates, GOP

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File:Bobby Jindal by Gage Skidmore.jpgBobby Jindal: Bobby Jindal is trying hard to get the “Trump Bump” by repeatedly criticizing the businessman. To this point, Trump hasn’t decided the Louisiana Governor is worth his time. It’s unclear where Jindal’s funding is coming from and how long he will be able to stay in the race.

Current Ranking: 13th

Political Stock: STRONG SELL- DELIST WARNING

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george_patakiGeorge Pataki: Governor Pataki’s campaign, by all accounts, is circling the drain. Attempts to criticize Donald Trump to gain some mention in the national press has been met with silence. If there is a funding source for Pataki, perhaps he can stick it out for a few more chances at debates, but, otherwise, expect a dropout.

Current Ranking: 14th

Political Stock: STRONG SELL- DELIST WARNING

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http://www.texaswatchdog.org/files/rickperry_5.jpgRick Perry: Rick Perry tried to make a joke earlier this week about Donald Trump. Instead, it came off like he was agreeing with Trump that Perry was going to exit the race. While he might stay in for the CNN debate, expect an imminent campaign suspension.

Current Ranking: 15th

Political Stock: DELIST IMMINENT

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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 of delisting, Santorum’s do not. Santorum’s candidacy and his political positions are well-outside of the American mainstream.

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 weeks ago but he remains on the list as a lesson to others. 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

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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