Matt McDaniel

10 minute read

POWER RANKINGS 2016

43 Weeks out of the Iowa Caucus

83 Weeks out of Election Day 2016

There is currently 1 national candidate declared.

Because of the Easter Holiday and Good Friday, the rankings are being released on Thursday instead of Friday this week!

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First Class Candidates, GOP

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.Scott WaFile:Scott Walker by Gage Skidmore.jpglker: For the eighth week in a row, Scott Walker remains at the top of the list. This ranking, like last week’s, is more because of inertia than action. Walker has been consolidating early state support as the “anti-Jeb Bush.” While Senators Cruz, Paul and Rubio need to declare in April in order to maximize time on the early campaign trail, Walker can remain officially undeclared and continue to rake in large amounts of donor cash. Walker deftly avoided the issues surrounding Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) this week. Any type of commentary would have brought rebuke from one side of the debate or another. It’s interesting to note that Wisconsin’s ban on gay marriage was struck down in the same Seventh Circuit Opinion as Indiana’s. Walker’s official comment on Indiana’s RFRA was: “In our state there’s a balance between wanting to make sure that there’s not discrimination [and] at the same time respecting religious freedoms. … We do that in different ways than what they’ve done in Indiana.” That’s a statement of a man running for President if I’ve ever heard one.

Current Rating: Unchanged: 1st

**Political Stock: BUY

**

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Rand http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1360018/thumbs/o-RAND-PAUL-facebook.jpgPaul:  Senator Paul is announcing his bid for the White House on April 7, 2015. Paul, who had some impressive poll numbers come out of Pennsylvania this week (where he is beating Hillary Clinton in a head-to-head race), looks to be a strong “middle way” for disillusioned establishment voters and conservatives who don’t want to be lumped in with the likes of Ted Cruz. Rand Paul’s silence on this week’s RFRA debate is very loud. Paul, whose political fortunes rise and fall on millennials and non-traditional Republican voters, has been pulling the GOP (kicking and screaming) towards inclusiveness and tolerance of other lifestyles and points of view. As most polls show, Americans are rapidly moving in the direction of increased civil rights for gays and lesbians (so much so that it will likely be a non-issue in 50 years). Though some Republicans stubbornly refuse to accept this shift, Paul’s brand of libertarianism is the best counter to state-imposed diversity. While the debate may be over on the “traditional” conservative model with regards to gays and lesbians, the libertarian model that allows for free association of people is a way forward that doesn’t involve the government legislating morality (progressive or conservative).

Current Rating: Unchanged: 2nd

Political Stock: STRONG BUY

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http://media.salon.com/2013/05/ted_cruz2.jpgTed Cruz:  Ted Cruz remains above Jeb Bush this week because he is the only officially declared candidate in the race. Until Senators Paul and Rubio join him in the coming days, Cruz has a bully pulpit to push his brand of unfiltered and unapologetic conservatism. Using the media to solidify his position as “the candidate” for evangelicals and uncompromising conservatives, Cruz has been gaining support among the most strident members of the base. The real test for Cruz will come when other candidates enter the race and offer more nuanced and “electable” messages that appeal to a wider array of voters. Cruz’s plan, and it very well may be a good one, centers around getting a conservative bloc early and preventing other conservatives from entering the race. With this group intact, Cruz can watch as the establishment and neo-conservative candidates have to vie for prominence.

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 made an interesting play this week in coming out to defend Indiana Governor Mike Pence’s signing of Indiana’s restrictive RFRA law. Bush, the former Governor of Florida, has been hammered from the right for his apparently mild conservative views. Defending Pence was a signal to the base that he is, indeed, a conservative with values that the base need not be afraid to support. Bush was the first potential GOP nominee to defend Pence and said “I think Gov. Pence has done the right thing,” said Bush in an interview with Hugh Hewitt, an influential conservative radio host. “I think once the facts are established, people aren’t going to see this as discriminatory at all.” This isn’t merely saying that religious liberty should be protected. Rather, this is an endorsement. Realistically, this comment won’t hurt Bush among conservatives, but it may signal the Party’s inexplicable lurch of the “right” on an issue where most Americans disagree.

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 looks to be announcing his run for the White House on April 13, 2105. While this has not been confirmed (he merely said he was planning to discuss his “plans” about his Senate seat and the White House), most people “in the know” are saying that Rubio is going to make his run official. This comes, like Senators Cruz and Paul, at the time when he can make the most of his time outside of the Senate and not have to wait until the summer to make the announcement. Rubio played the nuance game in his support of Mike Pence and the Indiana RFRA law saying: “Nobody is saying that it should be legal to deny someone service at a restaurant or at a hotel because of their sexual orientation. I think that’s a consensus view in America” Rubio said. “The flip side is … should a photographer be punished for refusing to do a wedding that their faith teaches them is not one that is valid in the eyes of God?” A comment like that leaves little doubt that Rubio has his eyes on the White House and being a marketable candidate to a large demographic of potential voters.

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:  John Kasich remains a begrudging establishment dark horse. While his positions and rhetoric do not ring truly conservative, his visits to New Hampshire show that he’s seriously looking at getting into the race for the White House. As a sitting governor with the decline of other sitting governors Christie and Pence (with Jindal further down on the list), Kasich has no rival to be the “currently-in-the-game establishment governor.” Scott Walker is clearly trying to run to the right and former governor Bush has been out of office for years. Therefore, Kasich could see himself with good positioning to run as the “presidential” moderate. Not to mention the fact that he is the governor of Ohio which is shaping up to have critical importance in the 2016 general election.

Current Rating: Unchanged 6th

Political Stock: BUY

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File:Chris Christie 2011 Shankbone.JPGChris Christie: Chris Christie is not out of the race for the White House, but all signs show that he may have “hit bottom.” The reason why he remains higher on this list than many of the other speculative candidates is because he has the prominence and allies to make a run deep into the campaign if he decided to do so. There’s a good chance that Christie may wait later into the summer to declare and let his rivals go after each other for a few months. Tellingly, Christie was silent this week on Indiana’s RFRA law.

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 still in Iowa talking about his chances of becoming President. Graham’s political fortunes are tied to the Administration’s bungling of foreign policy issues in the Middle East. The most consistent hawk of the potential GOP field, Graham’s belligerence will play well in the event the Administration appears to cave to the demands of Tehran. Likewise, the ongoing conflict in Yemen, as well as Russian aggression against the Baltic States, plays into Graham’s view that the United States needs to take a dramatically more active stance with regards to its power projection around the world.

Current Ranking: 8th, Up 1 spot 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: Ben Carson looks like he’ll be announcing his run for the White House in May. Though it seems that he has very little support (people like him, certainly, but people will vote for candidates they think are more electable), Carson appears set on his desire to make a go at the nation’s top post. When gay and lesbian issues are in the news, expect Carson to weigh in. Regarding RFRA, Carson strongly defended the law and its intent.

Current Ranking: 9th, Up 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: Rick Perry is still making overtures at a run for the White House. Regarding RFRA, Perry’s response was not an overt endorsement of the controversial law, but he supported the measure from a States’ Rights perspective.

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

Political Stock: HOLD

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File:Bobby Jindal by Gage Skidmore.jpgBobby Jindal: Governor Jindal looks to be making a run at the White House despite the real problems in Louisiana. A court recently tossed out a challenge by Jindal over Common Core, but this will likely not diminish Jindal’s attacks on the program as a talking point of his presumptive campaign.

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 to say about Governor Pence? Mike Pence had, for most weeks of these rankings, been the “dark horse” of the 2016 race. Generally scandal-free with impressive legislative and gubernatorial credentials, Pence looked like he could come into the race late in the summer as a consensus candidate who could heal the fractures between conservatives and the Party establishment. All that changed when Pence signed Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Act effectively legalized certain forms of private discrimination against gays and lesbians. While this is bad enough given the political climate in the United States, Pence and his allies in Indiana’s legislature defended the law and noted that it was not discriminatory in nature. However, after a huge backlash from popular media and business interests, Pence has quickly decided that changes to the law need to be made. Regardless of the good or evil of the law, this was a public relations disaster for Pence. Already it looks like Pence is going to focus on his reelection bid as governor rather than a run for the White House. He may be able to repair his brand for a run in 2020, but his 2016 possibilities are basically dead.

Current Ranking: 12th, Down 4 spots from last week

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 still touting his brand of evangelical talking points and trolling a run for the White House. A strong supporter of Indiana’s RFRA, Huckabee is attempting to find some light to get support that Ted Cruz is effectively gathering to himself.

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  Current Ranking: Unchanged: 13th
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  <strong>Political Stock: SELL</strong>
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  <img class=" alignleft" src="http://cpac.conservative.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2014/11/CarlyFiorina.jpg" alt="http://cpac.conservative.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2014/11/CarlyFiorina.jpg" width="151" height="193" />
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  <strong>Carly Fiorina</strong>: Fiorina made a statement this week regarding RFRA that, <a href="http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/04/01/carly-fiorina-and-mike-huckabee-defend-religious-liberty-tolerance-for-all/">while strongly siding with religious liberty, did strike a conciliatory tone</a>: &#8220;We must find a way to respect one another, to celebrate a culture that protects religious freedom while condemning discrimination.&#8221;
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  <span style="color:#000000;">Current Ranking: Unchanged: 14th</span>
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  <strong>Political Stock: HOLD</strong>
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  <img class="shrinkToFit decoded alignleft" src="http://c1355372.cdn.cloudfiles.rackspacecloud.com/4d77c29a-b959-4be9-8730-f88f56a2297a/RJSportrait.jpg" alt="http://c1355372.cdn.cloudfiles.rackspacecloud.com/4d77c29a-b959-4be9-8730-f88f56a2297a/RJSportrait.jpg" width="121" height="163" /><strong>Rick Santorum</strong>: Rick Santorum criticized Mike Pence for <a href="http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/04/01/rick-santorum-says-pence-indiana-flinched-on-religious-freedom/">&#8220;flinching&#8221;</a> on religious liberty and seeking additional protections for gays and lesbians. This is his second week at the bottom of the list and his increasingly ridiculous views may merit his removal from reasonable consideration.
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  <span style="color:#000000;">Current Ranking: Unchanged: 15th</span>
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  <strong>Political Stock: SELL: DELIST WARNING<br /> </strong>
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  Unranked Speculative Candidates
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  Sarah Palin, Bob Ehrlich, John Bolton, Rob Portman, Asa Hutchinson, Nikki Haley
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  We are not ranking Donald Trump. His proposed candidacy is a farce.
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  If any of these potential candidates make moves towards running, they will get a ranking.
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