Matt McDaniel

10 minute read

POWER RANKINGS 2016

44 Weeks out of the Iowa Caucus

84 Weeks out of Election Day 2016

There is currently 1 national candidate declared.

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First Class Candidates, GOP

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.Scott WaFile:Scott Walker by Gage Skidmore.jpglker: Governor Walker remains at the top of the rankings this week despite Senator Cruz’s official entry into the race for the White House. Though the biggest news from Walker this week was that he would visit the Mexican border (as well as his comments at a private dinner that he has a more nuanced approach to immigration that some hard liners in the Party), Walker continues to have a comfortable lead over his adversaries. In what has been a particularly Senator-heavy week, Walker has generally stayed out of the spotlight. Though there has been residual reporting on Walker’s governorship of Wisconsin, it appears that he has been able to weather most of any criticisms lately. Walker benefits from hardcore conservatives like Cruz entering the race at this early stage so Walker can present himself as a moderating (not moderate) voice when he declares sometime in May (at least that’s the logical time). Walker is using this time to start to rake in lots of “frontrunner cash” as well. Walker isn’t making any big gains, however, and is merely coasting. A breakout candidate could knock him out of being the top spot in the coming weeks.

Current Rating: Unchanged: 1st

**Political Stock: BUY

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Rand http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1360018/thumbs/o-RAND-PAUL-facebook.jpgPaul:  Folks may disagree about putting Rand Paul in second this week. On the one hand, there’s Jeb Bush. To the establishment media (NY Times, et al.), Bush is the presumptive frontrunner once the flavor of the day, Walker, is out of the picture. Bush has tons of money and has willing accomplices in the shapers of public opinion. On the other hand, there’s Ted Cruz. Cruz’s announcement this week that he is running for President was a spark on the far-right of the Party. Rand Paul needs at least some of these folks to join his cause in order to make a reasonable run for the nation’s top job. The reason why Rand is in the second spot is because he is sticking to his Rand Paul brand of moderate-libertarian-conservatism and making sure his base is unified. While there are some who are drifting away (the loud ex-Ron-Paulites), Rand has maintained a consistent message. The “college kids” who supported Ron Paul are now young adults. There’s an untapped base for Paul around the country. Paul’s attempts to reign in spending in the Senate were rebuffed by “conservatives” Cruz and Rubio. While Paul may be seen as anti-defense in an election that may have strong foreign policy overtones, the American people, Paul believes, do not want to commit soldiers back to the Middle East for the fourth time in the lives of many.

Current Rating: 2nd, Up 1 spot from last week

Political Stock: STRONG BUY

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http://media.salon.com/2013/05/ted_cruz2.jpgTed Cruz:  Ted Cruz, the only person on this list to have actually declared his candidacy for President, has to rise this week into the top tier of Republican contenders. While it’s likely only to be a short burst of momentum, Cruz is intending to calculate his best path to success. Doubling down on all the well-trodden conservative tropes: pro-troops, anti-Muslim, pro-God, pro-gun, anti-gay, etc., Cruz proclaimed his message in a well-choreographed opening salvo at Liberty University. Unsurprisingly, moderate and liberal media blasted Cruz and conservative media swooned. Because he is the only candidate for the nation’s highest office, he is squarely in the spotlight (and the crosshairs) of media attention. Written off by many as a joke, Cruz is making the most of his position as “frontrunner” and using his pulpit to craft his message: I am the anti-Obama and I am going to get the nomination by energizing the evangelical right, all other sides of the equation be damned! Cruz, who voted with Senator Marco Rubio this week to hike up defense spending without any spending cuts, is trying to craft his conservative image for a base that is desperately seeking a champion. Cruz’s prominence depends on how much cash he can bring in.

Current Rating: 3rd, Up 2 spots from last week

Political Stock: BUY

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Jehttp://media.oregonlive.com/opinion_impact/photo/jeb-bush-20119761jpg-a137a6bdd738a087.jpgb Bush: Like Leviathan, Jeb Buah’s campaign slowly rumbles on in the deep, dark, entrenched areas of the GOP establishment. Courting mega donors, and in no rush to officially declare his candidacy, Bush is routinely in the news getting quasi-favorable coverage from the mainstream media. Especially this week showing that he got no special treatment from his brother when hurricanes had struck Florida during Jeb’s term as governor, Jeb is painting himself as a different man than either his father or his brother. Bush falls in the rankings this week only because of the announcement BY Ted Cruz and the Senate budget fights. Bush, whose chief rival in the top-tier is Scott Walker, has no reason to fear the hard-right Cruz. Bush and Cruz would not meet head-to-head until the “finals” of the primary battle (the base v. the establishment) if it ever got that far.

Current Rating: 4th, Down two spots from last week

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, along with Senator Cruz, attempted to push a budget amendment through the Senate that would have dramatically raised defense spending without any offsetting cuts. Obviously, this is a calculated play to be able to campaign as a hawk in what looks to be a foreign policy-heavy election. Expect an announcement from Cruz sometime in mid-April regarding his run for the the White House. Managing the rollout of his campaign will be a good indicator of his perceived position of trying to straddle between the right and the establishment.

Current Rating: 5th, Down 1 spot from last week

Political Stock: BUY

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Third Class Candidates, GOP

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John KFile:Governor John Kasich.jpgasich:  Governor Kasich looks more and more like he’s taking the spot of the “sitting establishment governor” to run at Jeb Bush from the center. Scott Walker is the governor that is getting the most broad-based support, but Kasich has a political pedigree as well as name recognition that could allow for a political snowball if he plays the game correctly. In New Hampshire this week, where a moderate Party-man would have to do well, Kasich touted his credentials. While it appears that Kasich will make his run official in the coming months, it remains to be seen whether the establishment side of the Party, which favors Jeb Bush, will welcome a Kasich run. It also remains to be seen what type of fundraising pull Kasich will have from major GOP donors.

Current Rating: Unchanged 6th

Political Stock: HOLD

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File:Chris Christie 2011 Shankbone.JPGChris Christie: It looks more and more like Chris Christie’s moment may have passed him by. Though there are a lot of Republicans in statehouses across the country that owe Christie favors, it looks like his political brand has been tarnished to such a degree that he may not be able to bounce back. Tellingly, even Christie opponents on the right are starting to pack up and go home.

Current Ranking: Unchanged 7th

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: Governor Pence is an interesting case this week. On the one hand, signing an Indiana version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (to raise the judicial standard for cases that involve religions liberty) has given him a huge boost in the eyes of social conservatives. However, this has also given Pence the first taste of bad press. Lots of it. While the law is actually fairly benign in its application, it comes at a time when the Supreme Court is considering whether the rights of gays and lesbians to marry should be extended to every state. While the Court is likely to make a broad ruling allowing for same sex marriage, Pence has allowed the Indiana law to be interpreted by the media as being anti-gay. Especially in 2016, where gay marriage looks to be the law of the land, and (if opinion polls are to be believed) will stay that way, Pence has a huge hole to dig out of to look palatable to moderates in a general election.

Current Ranking: 8th, up 1 spot from last week

Political Stock: HOLD

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http://fitsnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/graham.jpgLindsey Graham: Somehow Lindsey Graham is actually making a play at running for the White House. Though it’s not entirely clear if he actually intends to run, Graham’s ultra-hawkish views, in light of the current instability in the Middle East, Graham has been getting more and more play from the military-minded base.

Current Ranking: 9th, Up 2 spots from last week

Political Stock: BUY

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http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/49/Ben_Carson_by_Gage_Skidmore_2.jpgDr. Ben Carson: Ted Cruz’s declaration of his candidacy has effectively overshadowed Dr. Carson. Cruz has been doing all he can to solidify the conservative, Tea Party, wing of the Party. Cruz’s relatively early entry into the race has left lesser-funded folks like Carson in the dust. Add to that that Dr. Carson has made additional inflammatory comments about the President this week, it looks like Carson may only be getting support from the fringe of the fringe before all is said and done.

Current Ranking: 10th, Down 2 spots from last week

Political Stock: SELL

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File:Bobby Jindal by Gage Skidmore.jpgBobby Jindal: Governor Jindal still looks like he is seeking to run for President. However, he’s having a particularly difficult time getting any air under his wings. Dogged by a sputtering Louisiana and a perception that Scott Walker is the preferred conservative governor, Jindal has little he can do to change the hearts and minds of conservative voters once the primary season starts to kick off into high gear.

Current Ranking: 11th, Down 1 spot from last week

Political Stock: SELL

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Fourth Class Speculative Candidates, GOP

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http://www.texaswatchdog.org/files/rickperry_5.jpgRick Perry: We would have thought that Rick Perry would have learned after a late rollout in 2012 that waiting around and not making news isn’t the smart idea when looking to get to the front of a crowded GOP field. Nonetheless, Perry appears to be stumping across Iowa where the ground has already been well-trod by his likely entrenched adversaries. Perry may have a better campaign play in the south rather than wasting so much time on the unwinnable scenario in Iowa.

Current Ranking: 12th, Up 1 spot from last week

Political Stock: HOLD

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http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevinwax/files/2014/04/mike-huckabee-deborah-feingold-1.jpgMike Huckabee: The entrance of Ted Cruz into the race has hurt Huckabee’s chances of making a play at evangelical conservatives. While he may have residual support among ministers in the South, it looks increasingly unlikely that a man nearly a decade out of power as a governor could rival a powerful sitting US Senator. Though he still will probably run.

Current Ranking: 13th, Up 2 spots from last week.

Political Stock: SELL

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

Carly Fiorina: Fiorina has been focusing on women’s issues over the past week. However, in a campaign that requires making waves, Fiorina has been nationally silent. She appears ready to get on board as the anti-Hillary with whatever campaign decides to take her.

Current Ranking: 14th, Down 2 spot from last week

Political Stock: SELL

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http://c1355372.cdn.cloudfiles.rackspacecloud.com/4d77c29a-b959-4be9-8730-f88f56a2297a/RJSportrait.jpgRick Santorum: Basically non-existent in the campaign world, Santorum may drop off this list in the coming weeks. Ted Cruz has played the same card as Santorum and has quickly gotten the support of whatever voters Santorum could have hoped for.

Current Ranking: 15th, Down 1 spot from last week

Political Stock: SELL: DELIST WARNING

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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.