Matt McDaniel

11 minute read

POWER RANKINGS 2016

41 Weeks out of the Iowa Caucus

81 Weeks out of Election Day 2016

There are currently 3 national 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: Rand Paul is in first place for a second week in a row. This has less to do with Senator Paul and more to do with the wide-range of candidates considering entering the race. Pure conservative, right-wing, and evangelical voters have been attracted to Ted Cruz while Marco Rubio is attempting to sheer off establishment support that would otherwise have gone to Jeb Bush. In this swirl, Senator Paul has generally weathered the storm with most of his supporters still intact. While some libertarian purists doubt he has the bona fides of his father, Senator Paul has been mainstreaming the brand and stands poised to do well in the primaries. Specifically, Paul’s ground campaign in Iowa is likely to produce a strong showing showing. Paul also looks to be the best-situated candidate to do well in both Iowa and New Hampshire’s disparate electorates. However, the race is still very early and Senator Paul’s perceived animosity with the media does not serve him well. Especially when he is pushing messages that are nuanced but should reach across the aisle to minorities and those who feel left out of the political process, Paul needs the media to make his message clear. Paul was smart to double-down on his pro-life stand this week in order to make sure his position on the issue was solid.

Current Ranking: Unchanged 1st

Political Stock: STRONG BUY

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Scott WaFile:Scott Walker by Gage Skidmore.jpglker: For a second week in a row, Scott Walker remains below Rand Paul. This should not be taken as an indication that Walker has less support than Paul. Rather, this only means that he has been focusing on working behind the scenes to cement his status as both a conservative and establishment candidate. With relatively little press, Walker intends to keep his brand unscathed and make an announcement about a run later in the spring or early in the summer. The media onslaught he suffered early was a good teaching moment for Walker who had not had a great deal of national exposure (at least in the context of a national campaign). Walker is getting a respite as other Republicans are stepping into the scrutiny of the national press. However, Walker needs to be sure that his support isn’t eroding as other voices begin to crowd the field. Most notably, Walker has to fear that the right-wing of the Party is gravitating to the purist message of Ted Cruz. While this may not continue once more candidates are in the race, Walker needs a bit more exposure now, or risk having flamed out too early in the pre-campaign.

Current Rating: Unchanged 2nd

Political Stock: BUY

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Jehttp://media.oregonlive.com/opinion_impact/photo/jeb-bush-20119761jpg-a137a6bdd738a087.jpgb Bush: Jeb Bush is notably above Marco Rubio in this week’s rankings. Bush is consolidating huge amounts of money behind the scenes and has been receiving generally favorable stories in the media. Though his individual support among Republicans does not seem as strong as his fundraising, Bush’s campaign for the White House will be a case study in how money can shape the public opinion about a candidate. Bush is ahead of Rubio for the sheer fact that they are in a contest for the same general voters. At the moment, despite Rubio’s entry into the ring, he has a long way to catch up to the kind of money that the Bush campaign is likely to spend in the primaries.

Current Rating: 3rd Up One Spot

Political Stock: HOLD

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http://d35brb9zkkbdsd.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Marco-Rubio-Big-Smile-600x399.jpgMarco Rubio:  Senator Rubio entered the race for the White House officially this week. Though his entry was muted by the cacophony of media attention surrounding Hillary Clinton, who had entered one day prior, Rubio made it clear that he has a message for America and wants to make a run at the nation’s highest job. Like Senators Cruz and Paul, Senator Rubio was constrained by the schedule of the Senate as to when would be the best time to announce his candidacy. It remains to be seen what kind of fundraising numbers the Florida Senator will be able to garner this quarter. Likewise, as Rubio is competing against other establishment heavyweights, it will be crucial for him to define his message early and separate himself from the other names in the running. It seems clear that Rubio, while making this attempt at the top, may very well be courting the Vice Presidency from Scott Walker or one of the other gubernatorial names on this list that don’t rhyme with “Bush.”

Current Rating: 4th Up One Spot

Political Stock: BUY

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http://media.salon.com/2013/05/ted_cruz2.jpgTed Cruz: Ted Cruz falls in the rankings this week but not out of the top tier. Cruz has strong support among conservative purists and evangelicals. This coalition will serve him well in the Republican primaries. Already, Cruz and his affiliates, are boasting large fundraising numbers. If he is able to muscle out the other evangelical or conservative purist candidates, he could have a sizable bloc of voters by the time polls open. While Cruz is not expected to have a huge amount of support in Iowa or New Hampshire, if Cruz has the funding to carry on his campaign into the South, he may be a power-broker, if not a frontrunner, as the campaign progresses.

Current Rating: 5th Down Two Spots

Political Stock: BUY

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Second Class Candidates, GOP

There are currently no “second class” candidates. Second class has come to mean people who have significant support or who look to be gathering support for an imminent announcement.

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Third Class Candidates, GOP

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John KFile:Governor John Kasich.jpgasich: John Kasich filed papers this week indicating that he is starting a political organization that will likely turn into a campaign. With the overall negative drawbacks of Bush, the spectacular implosion of Pence, and the scandals of Christie, Kasich can see himself as a powerful contender for the “dark horse” position as an establishment spoiler. Especially if Kasich can bring Ohio to the Republicans in the ultimate race against the Democrats, Kasich is in a very lucrative position within the Party. Kasich’s biggest foe, rather than Bush, is Governor Walker. Bush will likely be able to buy up a significant portion of the establishment vote to muscle out Kasich from a majority. Therefore, Kasich will have to court the moderate-to-conservative blue collar folks who Walker holds. Kasich will have an uphill battle, but his candidacy looks likely.

Current Rating: Unchanged 6th

Political Stock: BUY

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File:Chris Christie 2011 Shankbone.JPGChris Christie: It’s impossible to tell if Chris Christie is making a run for the White House or foundering. One report declares any campaign he has dead-on-arrival while others note that he is doing all he can to make inroads with powerful members of the Party and donors behind the scenes. As you’ve no doubt seen in prior iterations of this list, we have held that Christie is owed a lot of favors by Republican Governors and Senators and that any announcement that his campaign is over likely does not take that fact into account. While this should not be taken to mean that Christie will enter the race or have any chance at the White House, it does mean that he can still make a feasible run in the primaries if he calls in a few favors.

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 is attempting to wear as many hats as he can at once. On the first, he is a sitting hawkish Senator regularly jabbing at the Administration and fellow Republicans and making overtly bellicose insinuations. Second, he is testing the Presidential waters for a late-game announcement (likely after Memorial Day if he has any sense). His run for the White House would be predicated on a national security disaster or an outright war in the Middle East. In the event that Americans become scared or warlike, Senator Graham can immediately capitalize and shoot to the front of the pack of potential Presidents. Third, Graham is acting as an establishment hitman against Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, regularly criticizing both of the first-term-Senators-turned-Presidential-candidates. Finally, Graham is trying to be a kingmaker in South Carolina, his home state and an early, important, primary. It remains to be seen if Graham enters the race and tries to take as many delegates as he can, or if he will make an endorsement before the South Carolina vote.

Current Ranking: Unchanged: 8th

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 set to make an announcement about his Presidential ambitions on May 4, 2015 in Detroit. While this looks like the venue and time to make an entrance into the field, Carson’s shot at the top spot look increasingly dim. He would do better just to make an endorsement and be done with it rather than wade into a race he is likely incapable of winning. This should not be taken as a sleight against Dr. Carson, but his fundraising capability is likely hamstrung by the early entry of Ted Cruz into the evangelical and social conservative arena. Cruz has made it an early goal to rally disaffected conservatives to his banner. It is unlikely that Carson can split that vote at this point. This, in turn, will lead to not having sufficient money to make a real run materialize.

Current Ranking: Unchanged: 9th

Political Stock: SELL

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http://www.texaswatchdog.org/files/rickperry_5.jpgRick Perry: Rick Parry is an enigma. Certainly not an elder statesman, Perry has been taking experience-based jabs at the three Senators who have officially declared their candidacies. Perry is likely to make a run for the White House again (because, why not?) but he has yet to court any real base of supporters. Therein is the puzzle: his Presidential hopes exploded last time because he was perceived to be a bumbler who entered the race too late. Now, he is not taking the race nearly seriously enough and lacks any real fundraising apparatus that anyone can see. Certainly Perry may have some residual support from previous runs, but his national profile has diminished.

Current Ranking: Unchanged 10th

Political Stock: HOLD

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File:Bobby Jindal by Gage Skidmore.jpgBobby Jindal: Bobby Jindal has generally remained outside the political limelight recently. Though he is now opposed to corporate welfare and sponsoring a potentially discriminatory version of RFRA in Louisiana, his profile has remained outside the media’s view recently. Without any major news, Jindal risks remaining a perennial fourth class candidate. If I was advising the governor, I would tell him to immediately declare his candidacy and let the rest sort itself out. Jindal cannot run the risk of being completely forgotten in the wave of candidates and sink out of the public’s knowledge.

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: Mike Pence remains on the list despite his political collapse over Indiana’s RFRA because he still has a resume that is palatable to the Party. While his campaign for the White House in 2016 may be exceptionally tarnished, a run in 2016 may be able to let him clear the air around his image and set himself up for a spot on the ticket or a run in 2020. Moreover, his defense of RFRA may have increased his national profile among religious conservatives who could view his positions with sympathy. However, his eventual justified capitulation on the RFRA issue may be seen by the same potential voters as a betrayal in the harsh winds of public disapproval.

Current Ranking: Unchanged: 12th

Political Stock: STRONG SELL: DELIST WARNING

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

Carly Fiorina: Carly Fiorina remains on the list because she is interesting. Regularly playing the gender card and looking to undermine Hillary, Fiorina is certainly more “feminist” than Hillary in that Fiorina is a generally self-made woman who is not in her position entirely because of a man. She makes interesting points and is a compelling speaker. It looks unlikely that she could rise to the level of being the Republican nominee, but she deserves to be on this list because she is an asset to the Party.

Current Ranking: Unchanged: 14th

Political Stock: HOLD

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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 was removed from the rankings this week. If he officially declares his candidacy tonight on FoxNews (at the time of writing we are not sure if he will announce or decline), we will begrudgingly add him back. However, there is so much baggage with Huckabee and so little real support, he has no business in the rankings.

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.