Matt McDaniel

11 minute read

POWER RANKINGS 2016

34 Weeks out of the Iowa Caucus

74 Weeks out of Election Day 2016

There are currently 10 national GOP candidates declared.

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First Class Candidates, GOP

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Scott WaFile:Scott Walker by Gage Skidmore.jpglker:  Scott Walker is back on top this week  after surrendering the crown for several weeks in a row. The reason for this resurgence is a growing opinion on the right that Walker can win over conservatives and has not been the lightning rod for criticism that some thought that he would be early in the campaign. While the poll numbers for Walker continue to remain high, the Rubio campaign seems to be hitting its stride right on Walker’s heels. With Jeb Bush set to announce his candidacy in the next week, Walker remains the only early top-tier candidate who has not decided to enter the race. While it looks inevitable, Walker should avoid the pitfalls of the Rick Perry campaign from 2012 where Perry declared far too late to enter the race at the top.

Current Rating: Up one spot to 1st

Political Stock: BUY

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http://d35brb9zkkbdsd.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Marco-Rubio-Big-Smile-600x399.jpgMarco Rubio: The Rubio campaign has been gaining ground. This is generally measured by the lengths the New York Times and other media outlets are going to test the fledgling campaign. So far, Rubio and his staff have proven deft at shrugging off most of the mud hurled their way. However, stories about buying a boat and having numerous speeding tickets really should not be enough to bring down a candidate for the nation’s highest office. What it does show, however, is that Rubio’s campaign will come under scrutiny as the race progresses. The implication of the stories is that there is a history of shady financials with Rubio that can be consistently resurrected through a press paper trail. With Jeb Bush set to enter the race within the week, Rubio has his first real test (as, more than any other candidate, Bush stands in his way– a Bush nomination would preclude Rubio from VP as both are from Florida).

Current Rating: Up 1 spot to 2nd

Political Stock: BUY

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Rand http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1360018/thumbs/o-RAND-PAUL-facebook.jpgPaul:  If a correct opinion falls onto a microphone, but no one is there to pay for it, does it reach the target demographic? Rand Paul’s message of individual liberty, opposition to the failed War on Drugs, new ideas for America’s cities, and a strong commitment to civil liberties make him a completely new and refreshing taste in the Republican Party. All that said, the people holding the purse strings happen to like the way things have been in the Party for the last few decades. To be completely clear, Rand Paul’s campaign is struggling for funds. Even the Silicon Valley types to whom a libertarian approach to the internet and business is appealing, seem to have turned their backs on the first-term Senator from Kentucky. Some of this may be because of Rand Paul’s failed pivot on certain foreign policy issues to bring himself more in line with the mainstream of the Party. This effectively left him out of getting money from either side. Donors who would support Paul are, thus, finding it difficult to support his campaign next to the more viable Rubio campaign or the correct political calculations of Ted Cruz. While Rand Paul’s message is likely the best for the Party moving forward and remaining viable, his lack of cash is not a good sign of future success.

Current Ranking: Down 2 spots to 3rd

Political Stock: BUY

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Jehttp://media.oregonlive.com/opinion_impact/photo/jeb-bush-20119761jpg-a137a6bdd738a087.jpgb Bush: Jeb Bush is looking to enter the Presidential race within the week. This is the effective capstone to what will likely be the Case Study on the failures of moderns campaign finance. Bush, in all but legal name, has been running for President since December of 2014. However, because he has not said the magic words, he can continue to personally raise funds for affiliated SuperPACs with impunity. Such abilities are severely curtailed for declared candidates. Therefore, Bush will enter the race with huge sums of money at his disposal. With a surging Rubio stealing many of his disaffected voters, expect Bush to embark on a major spending blitz early to (re)make his image in the eyes of the average Republican voter. It will be interesting to note just how much influence that type of spending will really net for Mr. Bush.

Current Rating: Up 1 spot to 4th.

Political Stock: HOLD

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Ted Cruz: Senator Cruz remains the “conservative” purist alternative for any of the top contenders. Cruz made the political calculation to attract the evangelical voters and the hard-line social conservatives early in the race. His savvy “first in” running style has significantly blunted the campaigns of Mike Huckabee (and to a lesser degree Rick Santorum and Ben Carson). Cruz is hoping that his early supporters don’t leave to join the Walker campaign when the latter inevitably declares his candidacy. It’s important to realize that the Cruz campaign is flush with cash and will likely post exceptionally good quarterly numbers. This will attract more donors who will see this as a barometer of viability.

Current Rating: Down 1 spot to 5th

Political Stock: HOLD

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Second Class Candidates, GOP

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John KFile:Governor John Kasich.jpgasich:  Rather than a “dark horse,” Governor Kasich remains the establishment figure who would benefit from a Jeb Bush implosion. As we have discussed here before, Kasich has the appropriate Republican pedigree and is the Governor of an important state for the general election. While it is unclear if Kasich’s presence on the ticket, alone, would bring Ohio to the GOP, it is certainly a consideration if a recalculation is made following a disintegration of an establishment frontrunner. However, if a Bush-Kasich or Kasich-Rubio ticket were envisioned, this would, at least from an electoral standpoint, be the best chance for the GOP to take both swing states. While this would not decide the race, the demographics of 2016 still seem to show both Florida and Ohio being key to an ultimate victory.

Current Rating: Unchanged 6th

Political Stock: HOLD

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Third Class Candidates, GOP

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File:Chris Christie 2011 Shankbone.JPGChris Christie: Chris Christie remains at the head of the Third Class of candidates because of his name recognition. Though it is anyone’s guess if Christie will enter the race, the smart money seems trending back to “yes.” There really is no down side to Christie entering the already crowded Republican field. While waiting until 2020 could lighten the competition (considering a Republican loss), he will be looking at a difficult race against an incumbent (presumptively) Hillary Clinton. Moreover, if Christie would have to wait until 2024, that would mean he will have been out of office for years and not a strong contender in light of the, likely numerous other Republicans crowding into the field. Consequently, the likelihood of a Christie campaign is high.

Current Ranking: Unchanged 7th

Political Stock: HOLD

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http://fitsnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/graham.jpgLindsey Graham: Aside from his digs at Rand Paul for not keeping America safe (and whatnot), Senator Graham’s campaign has been off to a meandering start. It remains to be seen exactly how much money he can bring in after his declaration. As we have mentioned before, Graham would benefit from a major foreign policy disaster or terrorist incident insofar as his hawkish policies would seem reassuring to an America looking for might and force. Graham also looks to set a bulwark in his home state of South Carolina, the “first in the South” primary. If Graham is able to make a token showing in Iowa, then win in South Carolina, he may find the hawks in the Party uniting behind him. This is a long shot, but it is his road to the nomination.

Current Ranking: Unchanged at 8th

Political Stock:  HOLD

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Fourth Class Speculative Candidates, GOP

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http://www.texaswatchdog.org/files/rickperry_5.jpgRick Perry: Former Texas Governor Rick Perry declared his candidacy this week. This was an expected move, but it remains to be seen exactly what his constituency will be. Certainly Perry played up his support of the US military and his personal fight to secure the border as Governor of Texas. While Perry can likely point to his executive experience on the issues, it seems unlikely that the good-will of conservatives who appreciate these stances will translate into votes. Rather, Perry will be fighting to cobble together hardliners and social conservatives while the frontrunners already have their base blocs well established. Coupled with the mismanagement of his campaign in 2012, there is really nothing that can be seen at the outset that would bode well for a successful Perry run.

Current Ranking: Up 4 spots to 9th

Political Stock: SELL

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george_patakiGeorge Pataki: The former NY Governor has declared his candidacy for the presidency. It remains unclear what Pataki’s true motives are in making a run at an ultra-long-shot bid, but there really is no discernible downside. Perhaps the reason for the run stems from the faltering Jeb Bush campaign and the potential undecided moderates and establishment voters who may be interested in supporting another former Governor. Like Giuliani before him, Pataki will likely run on a “remember 9/11” motif which, after 14 years, is patronizing, if stale.

Current Ranking: Down 1 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: After his announcement, Ben Carson has generally faded from the public’s spotlight. His time in Baltimore after the riots was generally well- received. Carson remains a niche candidate with some supporters. It remains unclear what kind of money the Carson campaign is raising at this point. Much of his political future rests on campaign finance filings and performance in future debates.

Current Ranking: Down 1 to 11th

Political Stock: HOLD

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Carly Fiorina: Carly Fiorina remains on the war path against Hillary Clinton. This is her campaign schtick and she is certainly running with it. It remains unclear to what degree Fiorina will go after other Republicans in the race. In a way, she may have the ability to come across as the adult/peacemaker between certain factions once debates get underway. Expect Fiorina to have a good fiscal showing because of her connections and friends. It remains unclear about subsequent quarters, however.

Current Ranking: Down 1 to 12th.

Political Stock: HOLD

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File:Bobby Jindal by Gage Skidmore.jpgBobby Jindal: Governor Jindal was the other week, but was relisted. Jindal took steps early last week to form an exploratory committee. Since it looks like he will make a run for the White House, he should be on the main list. While his stewardship of Louisiana has not engendered much praise, we have noted that Jindal has been trying to build an early presence in Iowa and New Hampshire. It still remains unclear, what, if anything, Jindal is offering that Scott Walker is not also offering. It will be a major test for Jindal in the first months of his nascent campaign to see how much money he will be able to bring in from supporters.

Current Ranking: Down 1 to 13th.

Political Stock: 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’s candidacy for President is baffling. Now, I understand that there is large appeal for a boisterous evangelical warning that sin is causing America’s decline, but the reality that someone who holds himself out as a pastor yet mocks transgendered people can poll so high is stomach-turning. The GOP is short-sighted if it thinks that the optics of a Huckabee candidacy will help attract voters to the Party. Rather, the decline in support for the GOP is genuinely linked to the rise of people like Huckabee who stand on moral high horses and alienate large segments of the young population. Additionally, with the decline of religious fervor in America, the hypocrisy of Huckabee embracing confessed pedophile Josh Duggar while condemning Caitlyn Jenner undermines his holier-than-thou stance on the issues.

Current Ranking: TEMPORARY REINSTATEMENT

Political Stock: JUNK

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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 for delisting, Santorum’s do not. Santorum’s candidacy and his political positions are what’s wrong with the GOP today.

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 last 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.