Matt McDaniel

11 minute read

POWER RANKINGS 2016

33 Weeks out of the Iowa Caucus

73 Weeks out of Election Day 2016

There are currently 12 national GOP candidates declared.

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First Class Candidates, GOP

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http://d35brb9zkkbdsd.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Marco-Rubio-Big-Smile-600x399.jpgMarco Rubio: Marco Rubio takes the top spot this week as momentum behind his candidacy continues to grow. With Jeb Bush’s official entry into the race, the Florida showdown is already shaping up. As we have mentioned here before, Bush is Rubio’s chief rival going forward. While this is not the conventional wisdom of the election, the reality is that, with any other potential nominee, Rubio is among a very short list of potential Vice Presidents. While Rubio is clearly aiming for the top job, the only other candidate with whom he could not be Vice President is Bush (they are both from Florida). It will be critical to see how much money is spent by the Rubio campaign to make inroads into the establishment base that is already growing disillusioned with the prospect of another Bush as a candidate. Finance numbers will be important to see how much money Rubio is getting behind him as the campaign shifts into gear.

Current Rating: Up 1 spot to 1st

Political Stock: BUY

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Scott WaFile:Scott Walker by Gage Skidmore.jpglker: When Jeb Bush beats you into the race for President, you know you might be running a bit behind the game. Governor Walker’s early spotlight may have turned his advisers off of an early entry. While still the presumptive frontrunner based on polling, Walker still has, bafflingly, not declared his run. The big problem here is that Walker’s support may tend to diminish as other candidates begin to look more palatable to moderate-to-conservative Republicans. While the situation is not yet dire by any means, Walker’s poll numbers are starting to show signs of buckling (these are also noticeable in Jeb Bush’s support as well). If Walker waits too long to declare, he may have to run a salvage operation while trying to woo back former supporters (see: The Rick Perry 2012 Campaign). Like with every candidate on the list, financial reporting will be an interesting topic going forward.

Current Rating: Down 1 spot to 2nd

Political Stock: BUY

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Jehttp://media.oregonlive.com/opinion_impact/photo/jeb-bush-20119761jpg-a137a6bdd738a087.jpgb Bush: Jeb Bush officially declared his candidacy for President. As we have discussed here before, the Bush waiting game will go down in someone’s angry analysis as to why the campaign finance laws as they exist right now are painfully broken. However, word on the street is that Bush’s financials will not blow the roof off of estimates. Actually, if gossip is to be believed, Bush’s cash is going to be considerably less than what mainstream analysts have predicted. As a consequence, in a few months (and if he bungles message control), there is going to be a question mark instead of an exclamation point after “Jeb.” This bodes well for other titular establishment candidates down the rankings like Governors Kasich and Pataki (as well as Christie if he ever decides what he wants to do).

Current Rating: Up 1 spot to 3rd

Political Stock: HOLD

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Rand http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1360018/thumbs/o-RAND-PAUL-facebook.jpgPaul: Senator Rand Paul continues a bit of a slide in the rankings. While still well-within the top-tier of candidates, the Senator’s rumored financial problems are not a good story to have bouncing around the media. Without any mega-donors, Senator Paul is left to scrape together what coalitions of donors he can to push the campaign forward. While at this point mega-donors are not make-or-break, that reality will change leading up to, and following, the primary debates. Senator Paul’s message is certainly going to resonate with young voters, his father’s former supporters, and people coming around to a libertarian viewpoint. However, the perceived vacillation on foreign policy issues has tarnished some of the Senator’s libertarian bona fides. With 2016 appearing to have some significant foreign policy implications, the Senator is fighting an uphill battle to spread a new and distinct message.

Current Ranking: Down 1 spot to 4th

Political Stock: BUY

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Ted Cruz: Senator Cruz again rounds out the top tier of GOP candidates. Cruz has been very successful at keeping the other evangelical, Tea Party conservatives out of the mainstream. As Cruz’s savvy politics have proven, he is making a calculated gamble that there will be sufficient hardline conservative support in order to propel him to victory in Iowa or in the South. Whereas some of his colleagues on this list are trying to get their financial houses in order, it appears from early speculation that Senator Cruz’s fundraising is meeting and surpassing expectations. While a campaign finance filing to the contrary would debunk this thought, any prominent financial showing by Cruz will go a long way to assuring his assumption of the Tea Party Candidate mantle. From there, Cruz will hope that the other social conservatives in the race drop out in order for Cruz to actively solicit voters away from the candidates above him.

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 last 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. The most interesting thing about the Carson campaign is that Carson continues to garner about 8-10% in national and regional polls. While it is still early in the campaign, it does appear that Dr. Carson will be among the “top 10” in the Republican 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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FARCE CANDIDATES

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maar02-donald-trump-portraitDonald Trump: Let’s just get this over with. Yes, Donald Trump is running for President. He is “Constitutionally qualified” to hold the office. Therefore, under the law there is no bar to his running. While common decency and care about the Party would be bars to regular candidates, the barrier to entry in the 2016 race is so low that it is attracting all comers. the best thing about Donald Trump, in complete honesty, is that he really has no reason to lie or play politics. The interesting thing will be when some voters find this a refreshing change of pace from politics as usual. Though Trump may not come near the Presidency, there is a real possibility that he will make the Republican debates’ cutoff.

Current Ranking: FARCE

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

If any of these potential candidates make moves towards running, they will get a ranking.