Matt McDaniel

11 minute read

POWER RANKINGS 2016

40 Weeks out of the Iowa Caucus

80 Weeks out of Election Day 2016

There are currently 3 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:  Senator Paul remains at the top of the rankings almost by process of elimination. Of all of the candidates on the list, with the possible exception of Ted Cruz, Paul has a solid base of support. While some has eroded because of Paul’s mild shifts to be more palatable on the hawkish right, his foundation remains the strongest of the potential GOP nominees. However, this is not to say that this floor will get him elected. To the contrary, if Paul is only able to maintain his current levels of support, he will fare little better than his father. Regarding fathers and sons, it is reported today that Paul’s son was cited for a DUI this week. While Paul will no doubt shrug off the issue, the repeated family problems for Paul require a “good father” story as to how to deal with entitled sons. Paul also is in a good position after the President’s admission that drone strikes killed an American hostage, to continue his war on unrestricted drone warfare abroad. It definitely remains to be seen how much money Paul has been bringing in to his campaign coffers since he announced his candidacy.

Current Ranking: Unchanged 1st

Political Stock: STRONG BUY

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Scott WaFile:Scott Walker by Gage Skidmore.jpglker:  For a third week, Scott Walker remains in second in the rankings. This, again, has to do with the shifting sands that currently make up the Republican primaries. Walker has, once again, stayed out of the political spotlight and has been building whatever support he needs behind the scenes. Walker is currently the best-positioned candidate to draw both from the establishment and the conservative wings of the Party. News this week that federal agents had randomly raided the homes of Walker supporters during his contentious fight with the unions certainly can be used to galvanize support for Walker in his coming run for the White House. It remains to be seen, however, how much money Walker has been able to raise to bolster his campaign. This will be an expensive race and it is unclear if Walker can buy his seat at the table.

Current Rating: Unchanged 2nd

Political Stock: BUY

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http://d35brb9zkkbdsd.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Marco-Rubio-Big-Smile-600x399.jpgMarco Rubio:  Senator Rubio’s prominence has continued to rise nationally and in the Party. As predicted in the rankings last week, the emerging narrative is the juxtaposition of Rubio and Bush and the coming fight for the heart of the establishment vote. The real test will be to see if Rubio has the political draw to bring donors away from Bush and start to entice big money to fund his campaign. Especially if he is perceived as jockeying for Scott Walker’s Vice President, it will become evident quickly that campaign donors will not be keen on making the Rubio investment. Several months more into the campaign will be telling to see where Rubio’s true goals are set.

Current Rating: Up One Spot to 3rd

Political Stock: BUY

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Jehttp://media.oregonlive.com/opinion_impact/photo/jeb-bush-20119761jpg-a137a6bdd738a087.jpgb Bush: Jeb Bush, according to the media, is the Republican frontrunner. This is not likely the case for several reasons. The most important one is that Bush’s base of support among establishment Republicans is beginning to erode. This was predictable as people began to image a Clinton v. Bush general election. The more telling issue with Bush’s campaign is that the same money that he has been relying on to keep him at the top of the polls is likely to come under significant scrutiny in the next several months. Already red flags have been raised privately that some of the Super PAC money as well as big donations may have run afoul of the law, or at least skirted close to the line. Because the anti-Clinton narrative from the right is likely to include major and mounting criticism that Clinton’s mismanagement of funds and money issues are a bar to the Presidency, defending Bush for what will appear, to the average voter, to be the same thing will ring hollow. It still looks like Bush will enter the race for the White House officially in the coming months, but, unlike Hillary, he does not enter the race with the crown already on his head.

Current Rating: Down One Spot to 4th

Political Stock: HOLD

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http://media.salon.com/2013/05/ted_cruz2.jpgTed Cruz:  Ted Cruz is still in the top tier because he has begun to embody the Tea Party message. He has garnered a great deal of money in his first month of campaigning and has pushed his ideological-religious focus into the hearts of the hard-right who would have been Santorum/Huckabee/Fringe-candidate supporters. This is Cruz’s coalition. Whether Cruz believes in this message is irrelevant to the smart politics he is playing. Realistically, he is working quickly to box out support for any small fringe candidates who try to jump into the race in the summer. It remains to be seen whether Cruz can draw supporters away from Scott Walker and how well Cruz can retain supporters once he has to go on records with more than just rhetoric. A big misstep this week was being the only Senator who was absent for the vote to confirm Loretta Lynch as Attorney General. This was bafflingly foolish for a candidate who had made anti-Lynch rhetoric part of his stumping. While Cruz’s vote would not have made a difference to Lynch’s eventual confirmation, the fact that he was the only Senator not voting will give his opponents fodder to compare him to Barack Obama: a first-term absentee ideologue.

Current Rating: Unchanged 5th

Political Stock: BUY

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Second Class Candidates, GOP _____________________________________________________________

John KFile:Governor John Kasich.jpgasich:  John Kasich appears to be emerging behind the scenes as the dark horse challenger to Jeb Bush’s control over the “establishment governor” narrative. While Kasich’s support is not an extensive base, he will quickly look like a palatable alternative once the national mood begins to really feel the potential of a Clinton v. Bush campaign. Kasich could benefit from a fractious fight between Bush and Rubio and pick up moderates who grow disaffected with Scott Walker once they realize that he is not the blank conservative slate that they expected him to be. Kasich, as governor of Ohio, is a very powerful influence broker in the 2016 narrative. Though most any Ohio poll will tell you that Kasich certainly cannot guarantee his home state, his profile would be better to bring in the swing state than not.

Current Rating: Unchanged 6th- Moved into Second Class

Political Stock: BUY

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Third Class Candidates, GOP

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File:Chris Christie 2011 Shankbone.JPGChris Christie: It looks increasingly unlikely that Chris Christie will make a run for the White House. While it is certainly still in the cards, Christie is several laps behind his fellow Republicans in putting a campaign framework together in early states. While Christie has been able to rehabilitate his image to some degree and has considerable influence among sitting governors, the reality is that he may not be able to put a campaign together in time to make a real race of his candidacy. What appears interesting behind the scenes is Christie beginning to peddle influence in order to get towards the top of candidates’ lists of potential Vice Presidential candidates.

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 may be announcing his candidacy in late May, but that still remains to be seen. He has raised his profile by going after Rand Paul who is perceived to be the weakest candidate from a foreign policy perspective. Paul and Graham have exchanged some sniping that has allowed Paul a forum to grow and explain his dovish-hawkish nuanced approach to foreign affairs. It still looks unlikely, outside of a major terrorist attack or a Russian invasion of Poland, that Graham will look like a suitable candidate for the average Republican voter.

Current Ranking: Unchanged: 8th

Political Stock: BUY

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Carly Fiorina: Carly Fiorina has set her sights on an entry into the Presidential race in early May. Fiorina is one of the “why not” candidates on the list. There is really no downside to Fiorina deciding to throw her hat in the ring. If anything, she will raise her national profile dramatically and be a sought-after anti-Hillary commodity as the primary process drags on. Her candidacy may also be able to erase her disastrous political history and perceived inability to run a state-wide election effort. A well-run, if futile, national campaign may give her a better shot about running in a future California election. She is at the bottom of a short list for Vice President, or the middle of a long list.

Current Ranking: Up Five spots to 9th.

Political Stock: HOLD

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File:Bobby Jindal by Gage Skidmore.jpgBobby Jindal: Bobby Jindal has been spinning his wheels on a potential Presidential run for quite some time. Having no breakout success on national news and generally parroting the most popular conservative opinions of the day, Jindal has yet to show what voter bloc he would appeal to if he did decide to run. It is also telling that Jindal is suffering from generally poor polling in Louisiana. While he would be on most candidates’ long list of Vice Presidential candidates, it appears less-and-less likely that Jindal will be able to make any movement into the top tier of candidates. While he is not being given a delist warning at this time, his campaign’s future does not look bright without a true breakout moment.

Current Ranking: Up One Spot to 10th

Political Stock: SELL

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http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/49/Ben_Carson_by_Gage_Skidmore_2.jpgDr. Ben Carson: Dr. Carson, like several other candidates on the list are “why not” candidates. There is no real downside to Carson making a run for the White House. While there is virtually no chance of becoming the nominee, Carson’s candidacy raises his national profile and makes him an important voice. While it is overly-simplistic to look at Carson as merely adding diversity to the Republican primary, the fact that Carson can make overtures to minority communities should not be discounted out of hand. The problem with Carson has been his lack of political acumen. While no one can begrudge him his opinion, the manner in which he has presented sensitive issues have been jarringly undiplomatic. While this may appeal to a very small amount of people who are seeking tough rhetoric on cultural issues, it is not befitting a candidate for the nation’s highest office.

Current Ranking: Down Two Spots to 11th

Political Stock: SELL

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http://www.texaswatchdog.org/files/rickperry_5.jpgRick Perry: It’s unclear exactly who Rick Perry’s supporters are. While he commendably responded to the “would you attend a gay wedding” with the only respectable answer: “probably,” the answer belies a strange lack of message control with the former Texas governor. If Perry is seeking to combat Jeb Bush and the establishment wing of the Party, the answer to that question should be an unequivocal yes. This is an answer that positions him well when the Supreme Court likely makes marriage equality the law of the land sometime in June. Perry can use this answer to say: “ok, this is now a non-issue and I have never seen it as an impediment for high office.” This is what he would need to have behind him in order to make a challenge of Bush for the big donors. On the other hand, if Perry is looking to court evangelicals and Tea Party reactionaries, his answer should have been a nuanced “no.” It’s clear that this was not the answer he was going for and it represents a break with the ultra-conservative wing of the Party. The biggest danger Perry faces now is being left somewhere in the middle with no real supporters and no real message beyond “probably.”

Current Ranking: Down Two Spots to 12th

Political Stock: SELL

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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 is likely to enter the race in early May. He was delisted last week because he campaign looks to be little more than a marketing gimmick for his brand. Moreover, his sharp rhetoric is out of touch with many Americans. Likewise, candidates like Ted Cruz better encapsulate the message Huckabee intends to put forward.

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 this 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.