November 20, 2015


  11:42 am

1. Marco Rubio  U.S. Senator from Florida

Sen. Rubio’s move to become the top mainstream candidate in the field has been cemented more over the past month. The Florida senator was declared by polls and pundits to be the winner of the fourth GOP debate, and he has continued to outpace the field in political and financial endorsements since September. As mainstream conservatives move to consolidate support behind the senator, other candidates have begun to flail wildly at Rubio to their detriment, both on the debate stage and on the campaign trail. With favorable/unfavorable numbers that are the envy of the filed, general election numbers that show the senator to be the most electable, and rising primary poll numbers that place the senator second is the most recent state polls, watch for the consolidation to accelerate.

2. Ted Cruz  U.S. Senator from Texas

Cruz continues to execute a brilliant strategy, consolidating as much of the Tea Party and evangelical vote as he can get. His campaign in Iowa was boosted by the endorsement of rabid anti-immigrant congressman Steve King, a big plus in the primary that will prove damaging in a general election. Cruz has steadily risen in the polls, but inevitably the Texas senator will have to confront the obstacles of Ben Carson and Donald Trump to truly dominate the far right.

3. Donald Trump  Chairman and President of The Trump Organization 

Trump’s clown show continues, with one embarrassing public debacle after another. From comparing the respected Dr. Carson to a child molester, to confusing bombers and fighter jets, to calling for a fascistic Muslim database, Trump’s idiocy remains the most entertaining, and disturbing, show in politics. Unfortunately for his fans, Trump’s poll leads are artificial, a cause of the unusually large field. But will those same polls indicating that Trump is the leading candidate in the “will never support” category, his time on top is limited, and a narrow field will quickly dispatch the Clinton donor for good.

4. Ben Carson  former Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital 

Dr. Carson’s high poll numbers and brief number one position brought an avalanche of criticism that he has thus far proven incapable of handling. From the confusion over his past statements and personal stories to his alarming lack of foreign policy gravitas, the former surgeon is proving to be in over his head. He remains personally well liked, but voters are begging to move on to more serious options.

5. Jeb Bush  former Governor of Florida

In the beginning of the race many thought Gov. Jeb Bush’s last name would be a hinderance, but ironically, it is now the only thing keeping him in the race. The Bush family network has cobbled enough money and endorsements together to allow Jeb to limp on in a campaign that he is clearly unfit to win. Donors have shifted to Sen. Marco Rubio, and Bush’s endorsements have stalled, with most coming prior to the launch of his campaign in the spring. Pride may keep him going, by 20 million in Super PAC ads have failed to lift his numbers, and there is no reason to believe more money will change that.

6. Chris Christie  Governor of New Jersey

The New Jersey governor has been the victim of very bad luck. After a strong debate performance in October and an uptick in his polls, Christie was bumped to the “kid’s table” debate by the Fox Business Channel, dealing a blow to his campaign’s viability. Still, his raw talent, captured in a viral moment discussing drug addiction in New Hampshire, reminded people why he was a frontrunner once. He is pushing hard in New Hampshire, but is stuck in the glut of establishment governors competing in the state.

7. Carly Fiorina  former CEO of Hewlett-Packard

Despite another strong debate performance, Fiorina is struggling to raise money and secure ballot positions and full delegate slates. She will need to find other ways besides debates to recapture momentum.

8. John Kasich  Governor of Ohio

Kasich did damage to himself in the last debate, proving incapable of articulating his bailout position. He lost the crowd and many watching. He remains in contention in New Hampshire, polling consistently in the double digits and ahead of Jeb Bush. His Super PAC is launching a multi-million dollar negative ad campaign against Trump that could make or break his New Hampshire-centric effort.

9. Rand Paul  U.S. Senator from Kentucky

Paul’s lack of money and poor poll numbers continue to plague his quixotic candidacy, and his isolationist rhetoric on ISIS led to a damaging moment against Sen. Marco Rubio in the last debate. While his libertarian fans cheered, follow up polls indicated Paul’s debate performance did him more harm than good.

10. Rick Santorum  former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania

Santorum has no chance at the nomination, and has simply risen on to the rankings by the virtue of other candidates dropping out.

Drop Out Watch:  Mike Huckabee, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki,  Jim Gilmore


October 28, 2015

October 26, 2015

Is Jeb Bush Looking For An Exit?

  1:17 pm

So far, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s campaign for president in 2016 has been underwhelming. He has raised substantial campaign funds, and he has for the most part a first-rate campaign staff, but his performance as a candidate has not raised his standing in the polls (which he earlier led), nor his standing with political observers (who had anticipated him as the Republican frontrunner going into the primary/caucus season in early 2016).

With the third GOP presidential debate only a few days away, the pressure grows sharply for Mr. Bush to turn in a much better performance than in the first two. He isn’t helping himself either by complaining about his opponents, especially Donald Trump and Ben Carson, each of who lead him in most polls.

As far as I know, no one has ever successfully won the presidency by complaining about his opponents. On the other hand, Mr, Bush has put forward some excellent economic plans, including a very serious free market plan to eliminate the unpopular and unworkable Obamacare legislation without incurring much hardship to those who need a new federal plan. Mr. Bush’s resume is as good, or better than that any of his rivals, and his experience as chief executive of the large state of Florida was impressive. Nor is temporarily downsizing his campaign staff and expenditures without good sense,

His primary problem so far seems to be a lack of notable skills as a campaigner, including those of a debater. A further frustration for his supporters and those of the other experienced candidates is that three non-politicians with no previous elected experience, Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina, are leading the GOP field by a large margin at the present time.

The irony of his situation is that Mr, Bush, by virtue of his fundraising, staff and name recognition, is best-suited to endure through the present environment and possibly re-emerge three months from now when the all-important state primary and caucus voting begins. This is exactly what Florida Senator Marco Rubio and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie are doing with far less resources.

When challenged by reporters, Mr. Bush is ill-advised to say “blah blah blah.” And when ruminating over the campaign so far, it does him no good to deride those voters who are giving his less-experienced opponents higher poll numbers. He is well-advised to continue to come up with good economic solutions to the nation’s toughest problems, and to work on his communication skills. He might not be able to become a William Jennings Bryan or a Ronald Reagan on the stump, but he can and should improve his campaign manner.

I hope Mr, Bush did not believe, when he entered the 2016 contest, that his nomination was inevitable or fore-ordained (as perhaps some of his supporters believed). Winning a major party nomination for president is always very hard work, and this cycle, it appears to very hard work indeed.

Mr. Christie, Mr. Rubio and Mr. Kasich are also very credible  as future leaders of the free world in this cycle, and it would appear that the one of them, including Mr, Bush, who wants it most, and will work for it the hardest, has the best chance for the prize.

Copyright (c) 2015 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.


Jeb’s Choice

  11:23 am

This wasn’t how things were supposed to go. As the son and brother of Presidents, with a prodigious network of donors, staffers, activists, and volunteers that was unmatched in the history of Republican politics, Jeb Bush should’ve been well on his way to Cleveland as GOP nominee.  No candidate had ever begun a campaign for President with more financial backing than the former governor of Florida.  With a Super PAC windfall of over $100 million, the stage was set for the scion of the Bush dynasty to clear the field of would-be challengers and take his rightful place as the next-in-line choice to be the Republican nominee for President of the United States. Early on, things seemed to be going according to plan. Bush jumped out to a solid, if not overwhelming, lead in the national polls, as well as in the key state of New Hampshire.  In just eleven days after announcing, Bush brought in a sizable campaign cash haul that seemed to portend big things to come.  However, beneath the surface, things were already starting to unwind.

Bush’s early “shock and awe” fundraising failed to intimidate rivals from challenging his status as heir-apparent. A slew of fellow establishment republicans plowed ahead with their own campaigns. Governors Christie, Kasich, and Walker were undaunted by Bush’s money, and more tellingly, Bush’s friend and fellow Floridian, Sen. Marco Rubio, moved forward with his own campaign, seemingly better attuned to the politics of the moment than his former mentor. Bush’s fundraising also contained several hints of the problems to come, with a historic over-reliance on large-dollar donors and almost nonexistent fundraising from small-dollar contributors among the rank and file.  The image of Bush as paper tiger began to take shape in the minds of many, and was exploded into the open with the entry of bombastic former Democrat Donald Trump into the race.  A largely unserious and fact-free candidate, Trump still succeeded in getting under Bush’s skin with juvenile taunts and petty personal attacks.  Unlike 2012 nominee Mitt Romney, who methodically approached each conservative challenger to his nomination with seriousness and focus, Bush’s team arrogantly boasted about not caring about Trump and happily declaring they’d like a one-on-one race with the Clinton mega-donor. What a difference a few months makes.

Bush had two early opportunities to consolidate his support and knock the know-nothing candidacy of Trump out of contention with two center stage debate performances in front of record-breaking audiences. Both times Bush failed to distinguish himself, with his halting, stammering, uneven performances raising more concerns about his viability.  The Bush team still declared confidence in their strategy, convinced that the money brought in by the Bush family’s connections would keep Jeb in contention well into the next year.  But this race is unlike others we’ve seen in recent history, and Jeb would not have the establishment lane to himself.

Squeezed by fellow establishment favorite John Kasich in New Hampshire, antagonized daily by the radical and unethical Donald Trump, and in constant fear of hemorrhaging support to his more talented friend Marco Rubio, Bush’s campaign imploded.  Once thought of as a unbeatable juggernaut, the Bush campaign slashed salaries, fired staff, and dramatically downsized their campaign. Desperate Bush supporters began making comparisons to the self-destruction of 2008 nominee John McCain’s campaign. But this isn’t 2008, and Bush, unlike McCain, could never successfully play the maverick insurgent.  Lacking the candor of an underdog, or the charisma of a frontrunner, Bush finds himself stuck in political purgatory, with donors keenly aware of the familiar stench of campaign death in the air. They never expected it to happen to a Bush, but it has.

The smart money has moved on from Bush, seeing his rival Rubio as the best bet to win the nomination from this point forward.  This appears to be the same conclusion reached by Gov. Scott Walker, when he honorably left the race early for the good of the party.  Gov. Jeb Bush now stands at the same crossroads as Walker, with the same difficult decision. The option of becoming president is no longer viable; Jeb Bush will not be the third member of his immediate family to occupy the Oval Office. But he still has an important choice to make, a choice that could very well determine who does end up as the next president.  Bush, famously stubborn like other members of his family, could double down on his own ambitions at the expense of the party’s future. He could drag out his campaign death spiral for months, ensuring the nomination of an unelectable outsider like Donald Trump.  The other choice requires some self-sacrafice; be the leader he claims to be, put the good of the country ahead of his own pride and step aside, ensuring that support coalesces around someone he respects and trusts, Sen. Marco Rubio.

This choice could be the most important of Jeb Bush’s political life, becoming the decisive moment that determines whether another Clinton returns to power and drags the country further to the left, or if his own friend becomes a conservative reformer in the White House, leading on the issues that Jeb is most passionately concerned about.  The right choice could lead to a second act in politics for Jeb Bush as a senior statesman and powerbroker in a Rubio administration, while the wrong choice could cause the nomination of Trump and lead the ruin of everything he and his family have spent their lives working for.  When you step back and put things into their proper perspective, the correct choice becomes crystal clear.


October 23, 2015


  12:06 pm

1. Marco Rubio  U.S. Senator from Florida

Sen. Rubio continues to be the most likely nominee for the GOP in 2016. After another impressive debate performance and good management of his resources by his team, Rubio is primed to take advantage of the collapsing Jeb Bush and the unserious Donald Trump.  The prediction markets have moved heavily in favor of the Florida senator, with a steady uptick in the polls and continued stellar favorability ratings. Rubio continues to be the most broadly acceptable candidate among the varied factions of the party, with the smallest number of voters saying they couldn’t support him, while Trump and Bush have the largest number. He is also now seen as a more plausible general election candidate then the gaffe-machine that Jeb Bush has become. Two debates in two weeks with Rubio near center stage play to his significant advantages and will propel his momentum into the winter months.

2. Ted Cruz  U.S. Senator from Texas

Cruz has positioned himself perfectly among the base of the GOP, strategically out-manuvering key rivals like Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Santorum.  He’s become a leading candidate among white evangelicals and has crafted a potentially brilliant southern strategy that could move him to the top of the pack by Super Tuesday. Cruz’s major problems remain his inability to curry any favor or support from any establishment forces.  In fact, he has burned more bridges to the wider swath of the party that it could prove decisive in keeping him from the nomination. His likability and favorability also trail significantly behind the more charismatic Rubio.

3. Donald Trump  Chairman and President of The Trump Organization 

Trump’s unserious campaign plods along, spending more money on hats than organization, and taking no serious attempts to build a national fundraising operation. As the only campaign to not purchase a voter file, nor use the free RNC voter database, it becomes harder to see how Trump’s campaign will turnout, register, or reach the new people he has attracted through earned media saturation. With his lead in Iowa gone, one of Trump’s only talking points is now slipping. His attacks on Sen. Rubio have also appear to have backfired, with Rubio steadily rising and will now be center stage with Trump, forcing the elderly real estate magnate into direct confrontation with the best communicator in the field.

4. Ben Carson  former Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital 

Dr. Carson has become the most favorably viewed candidate in the field and the top fundraiser in the third quarter, with a massive number of small donor contributions. With a strong personal story and bond with religious voters, the affable doctor has won voters over as the kindhearted outsider, as opposed to the bombastic, xenophobic Trump sideshow. Now leading in Iowa, Carson will now have to deal with increased scrutiny, as well as a barrage of incoherent rants and tweets from Mr. Trump.

5. Jeb Bush  former Governor of Florida

Things have gone from bad to worse for the former frontrunner. Bush’s “shock and awe” fundraising operation has turned out to be just average, leaving the governor in the middle of the pack, behind Carson and Sen. Ted Cruz. His cash-on-hand advantage in non-existant, and his team had to slash salaries, fire staff, and cut their operation to refocus on their fading New Hampshire hopes.  Bush’s last weapon has been the Super PAC cash haul he amassed early in the campaign. But after the first wave of ads, Bush’s numbers have actually dropped, and his unfavorable numbers have reached new highs.  He has been demoted from center stage in the debates, an indignity that reflects the trajectory of his campaign.  He has been replaced on stage, in polls, and in the prediction markets by Sen. Marco Rubio.  Now stories are beginning to trickle out, including ones from Bush supporters claiming he can no longer win, but must rely on others to lose.  If he is unable to outperform Rubio in the next two debates, the calls for him to step aside for the good of the party will grow louder.

6. Carly Fiorina  former CEO of Hewlett-Packard

After scoring a big victory in the second debate and damaging Donald Trump with female voters, Ms. Fiorina has been unable to capitalize on her moment.  The media’s pro-Planned Parenthood attacks on Fiorina withered her post-debate bounce, and the former businesswoman has been unable to sustain earned media.

7. John Kasich  Governor of Ohio

Kasich’s small surge in New Hampshire is long gone, coinciding with the Ohio governor’s Super PAC spending drying up. Kasich has shifted staff from Ohio to New Hampshire, making the state his must-win. However, Kasich’s campaign cash has quickly dried up and he risks fading from contention if things don’t change fast.

8. Chris Christie  Governor of New Jersey

The New Jersey governor was on the brink prior to the last debate, but is enjoying a slight resurrection, complete with the return of his 2012 Iowa backers and a small bump in New Hampshire and in national polls. Still, the governor is running low on funds and is still at risk of missing future debates.

9. Bobby Jindal  Governor of Louisiana

Jindal continues to hang on despite dwindling resources and no main stage debate performances.  He’s gone with an all-in Iowa strategy that has him registering more support than the past two Iowa winners, Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee. An Iowa upset is his only hope, if he doesn’t run out of money first.

10. Rand Paul  U.S. Senator from Kentucky

Paul’s fundraising and poll numbers have tanked, leading to increased pressure that he abandon his presidential campaign and focus on his senate reelection, which is looking increasingly competitive.

Drop Out Watch:  Mike Huckabee, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, Rick Santorum, Jim Gilmore


October 8, 2015

October 4, 2015

The Next “Comeback” Kid?

  12:25 pm

In late January, 1992, Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign appeared to be over. His personal life had become public scandal, and the experts in Washington, DC were saying he was kaput. At about that time, I ran into one of the senior titans of the national Democratic Party who knew I had predicted two years earlier that Clinton would be the Democratic nominee, and he assured me that Clinton was finished. I told him he could not be more wrong.

Today, 23 years later, there is general consensus among the media and political experts that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has no chance to win. Their absolute certainty was shaken a bit after Mr. Christie’s strong performance in the second GOP debate at the Reagan Library, but the consensus remains.

Look at the polls, they say. Christie is at 1% in Iowa, virtually at the bottom of the competing pack in this first electoral event of 2016. Overall, his numbers improved slightly nationally after the Reagan Library, but he’s still near or at the bottom of the top ten. Look at his high negatives, the experts say. Remember the bridge “scandal”, they add as if to make disputing them pointless.

But what do they say when six of the top Republican figures in  Iowa, including close allies of the longest-serving governor in the nation, Terry Branstad, have just endorsed him?

What do they say when figures such as Rick Perry and Scott Walker (the latter only weeks ago leading the pack in Iowa) withdraw so early from the contest, leaving fewer sitting and former governors in the race?

What do they say about two major candidates, Jeb Bush and John Kasich, failing to gain traction?

This is not to say that Governor Christie will be the Republican nominee. But with large numbers of delegates to be counted from eastern and northeastern states, the goodwill and alliances he made while campaigning for fellow governors (when he was Republican Governors Association  chair) in 2014, his demonstrated fundraising ability, and, most of all, his exceptional communications skills, it seems ludicrous to suggest he cannot re-emerge. In fact, there are signs that the lead in the polls will, as they did in the 2012 cycle, rotate between the major candidates until the primary/caucus season is underway.

In the 1992 New Hampshire primary, Bill Clinton only came in second. He then declared himself the “comeback kid.” He apparently did not believe the negative pronouncements of his party establishment, his party expert consultants, and the media.

We all know what happened next.

Copyright (c) by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.


September 25, 2015

Why I’m Still Undecided

  6:00 am

As I’ve made clear as I have talked about the debates before, I am one of your few vocally undecided front page posters here at Race42016. But, why am I undecided? We have a seemingly nice field of candidates. Many who are polished and refined with some great experience. Yea, we also have Trump, but he’s the anomaly, not the norm. Well, I’ll tell you why I’m undecided – it’s all about specific concerns which I’ll go through.

No Executive Experience – We have a number of United States Senators in the race. That’s fine, the more the merrier – to a certain degree. That said, what experience does Marco Rubio have actually serving as an executive in any capacity? Or Rand Paul? Or Ted Cruz? Or Rick Santorum? Or Lindsey Graham? Their skill set would make them fine Vice Presidential candidates, even cabinet members, but for President? I would prefer a nominee with executive experience. Does that mean I’d vote against them in the general? No, but it makes me wary to jump onto a bandwagon for a candidate who has never served in an executive capacity – either in business or in a governing role.

No Political Experience – Trump, Carson, and Fiorina have one major thing in common – none of them have served in public office before. The last President who went from private citizen to President was Eisenhower. It was different, though, with Eisenhower as Eisenhower had vast military experience which directly correlated to the position of Commander in Chief. He also had experience in the Federal Government as the Chief of Staff of the Army as well as serving as the overseeing Governor of American occupied Germany immediately after World War II. Carson has absolutely no experience relevant to the position of President. Fiorina and Trump at least are businesspersons who have experience serving as executives, but running a business and running the nation are not exactly the same. Also, their lack of political experience means they will make mistakes on the campaign trail most rookies make which could turn tragic against the Clinton machine in the general. Would I vote against them in the general? Apart from Trump, no, but again – it will make it more difficult for them.

Not Fiscally Conservative Enough – Let’s be real about John Kasich, George Pataki, and Mike Huckabee – their governing experiences in their respective states are not fiscally conservative. They are centrists at best, and at times center left when you look at their full records in office. Increased government spending, taxes, fees – that’s what you saw in their respective states. And Kasich’s continued defense of embracing Obamacare in Ohio should be disqualifying enough for any Republican voter, in my opinion. Christie has a…mixed history on the state level including some expansion and some cutting, making him in the mushy middle. And while Jeb was mostly great on the state level, his stances lately on federal issues and some of the decisions he made toward the end of his tenure in Florida are enough to give me pause. This doesn’t even begin to mention Trump’s vast history of proposing increasing the size and scope of government (socialized healthcare, increased taxes) and his personal abuse of eminent domain. Again, in the general it becomes a different beast entirely and I’ll most likely come back to support the nominee; but when I review their views now, I have concerns.

Not Socially Conservative Enough – I will not vote for a pro-choice candidate. Period. That eliminates George Pataki, but the fact that I lived in New York during all 12 years of Pataki’s reign and his center-left fiscal record were enough to disqualify him already. Kasich likes to talk about having a “truce” on social issues and is unwilling to fight the good fight federally on Planned Parenthood, only coming reluctantly on the state level after it became a major campaign issue. Paul rarely talks social issues, to my disappointment. I want someone ready to fight, especially for the right to life. Being able to talk on this issue and being firmly pro-life is a must for me. I will not vote for a pro-choice Republican who I can’t trust to appoint justice to SCOTUS who are ready to fight against Roe vs Wade. This, again, doesn’t begin to mention Trump who has been on all sides of the issue of life, still stands behind the “good” Planned Parenthood can do, and has a history of supporting restrictions on gun rights. A pro-choice nominee is one I won’t vote for unless I can be adequately convinced we’ll get pro-life judges on SCOTUS. I have yet to meet a pro-choice candidate capable of doing that, Giuliani came the closest in 2008.

I Despise the Fair Tax – Between the fact that the government can vote to give people more money through the poorly thought out prebate to the fact that a national sales tax will get abuses to no end, I despise the Fair Tax. This alone, for me, disqualifies Huckabee. I can’t vote for someone who supports the Fair Tax for President.

Foreign Policy Disagreements – I do not trust Rand Paul on foreign policy. There, I said it. I disagree with his seemingly naive view that we can withdraw inward. In the second debate he sounded more pragmatic, but in terms of national security – he concerns me. Bush and Kasich seem to have unrealistic expectations out of what Iran will do. And Fiorina sounds bold and capable, but are her plans she proposed in the debate realistic or too big? Carson – he just isn’t well versed enough in foreign policy to give answers and we don’t need a President who’s still training on the issues; we need them ready and having a plan in place for Day 1.

Now, I get – there are no perfect candidates. If I wanted a perfect candidate who I agree with 100%, I should run myself. I don’t and being I’m 32, I’m not qualified to be President. That said, these are my personal concerns. It’s okay to have concerns. And from them taken together I’m unsure about who I’ll vote for in the primary. Gun to my head? No idea. Still. There are things I love about each of the candidates. I love Fiorina and Rubio’s ability to connect with voters on a personal level. I love the humility of Carson. I love the willingness to stand firm on personal liberty of Paul and Cruz, even at their own personal career’s expense. I love Rubio, Bush, Fiorina, and (oddly enough) Christie’s ability and willingness to boldly defend the unborn on life issues. I love fact that we’re discussing reforming the tax code from a conservative perspective. That said, their pluses so far have not outweighed my current concerns. I will wait as the campaign continues, watching the impressive field and see if any of them have great pluses as I see them campaign and debate which outweigh my concerns. Until that day, I remain on Team Undecided. Feel free to join me here. It’s not the worst place to be…


-Matthew Newman is an engineer and blogger who also writes at Old Line Elephant and Red Maryland. Follow Newman on Twitter @mdmrn.


September 23, 2015

September 22, 2015

Where Will the Walker Infrastructure Go?

  12:51 pm

Sometimes the biggest thing about a candidate dropping out isn’t their raw vote totals moving to another candidate. Obviously, in the case of Scott Walker, his supporters had already moved on before yesterday’s announcement. But Walker dropping out changed the overall topography of the race, and also left behind a lot of infrastructure — donors and staff — for other campaigns to fight over. So where will that money and talent end up?

So far, the answer is with Marco Rubio and, to a much lesser extent, Jeb Bush. Walker’s New Hampshire co-chair, Cliff Hurst, signed on with Team Rubio immediately after finding out Walker was bowing out. Additionally, five prominent Walker backers in Iowa, including three county chairs and the chair of Iowa Students for Walker, moved from Walker to Rubio yesterday as well. Finally, Drew Johnson, a well known South Carolina activist and Walker supporter, endorsed Rubio as well.

Meanwhile, former Wisconsin GOP Chair Richard Graber moved from Walker to Jeb Bush following the announcement.

There are many more talented staffers up for grabs, and we should continue seeing headlines about their decisions in the coming days. For instance, Walker had two other New Hampshire co-chairs, including one who played a prominent role in Romney’s and McCain’s victories there, so it will be interesting to see where they end up. Walker also had many more county chairs in Iowa, something that is a necessity given the organizational heft required to win the caucuses in the Hawkeye State.

But what about the donors? Clearly, Walker didn’t raise as much money as he had hoped to, but seeing who his donors move to will give us a glimpse into which way this campaign is heading.

Walker had three main donors to his Super PAC: the Ricketts, Diane Hendricks, and Stanley Hubbard. The Ricketts have already donated to Cruz, Christie, Bush, Rubio, and Graham, and say they will choose one to back with larger sums of money at some point in the future. Hendricks hasn’t said who she could support now. Hubbard, though, has said he will choose one of four candidates moving forward: Fiorina, Rubio, Christie, or Carson.

Austin Barbour, who led Rick Perry’s Super PAC and keeps his finger on the pulse of major donors, said from his conversations it sounds like Walker’s other donors will choose Bush, Rubio, Fiorina, or Christie. As for Rick Perry’s former donors? Barbour says they will divide between Bush, Rubio, and Fiorina.

While that sounds like a whole mess of candidates are in the running for Walker’s (and Perry’s) former donors, if we put it all together we can see some patterns emerging:

Ricketts Hubbard Walker Donors Perry Donors
Christie Christie Christie
Bush Bush Bush
Rubio Rubio Rubio Rubio
Fiorina Fiorina Fiorina

Obviously, Rubio stands to gain the most from the Walker/Perry exits, with Bush, Fiorina, and Christie all positioned to benefit as well. The names who are not on this list, though, is what is even more interesting: Paul, Huckabee, and Kasich come immediately to mind, as well as all of the zero-percenters like Jindal. And seeing Cruz and Carson only under consideration by one donor each is rather surprising as well.

Given the direction staffers and donations seem to be heading in the aftermath of Walker’s decision, it looks like the race – for now – is headed for that Sunshine State showdown we predicted six months ago, with Fiorina (and potentially Cruz and Christie?) playing a smaller role in the drama.

UPDATE: According to Politico, the Bush campaign has picked up two more Walker staffers from Iowa and a student leader from Georgia; Cruz has won three of Walker’s Iowa staffers, two from Nevada, and one from Georgia; and Christie has announced the support a former Walker Iowa backer.

UPDATE II: Governor Jindal has announced the support of one of Walker’s former Iowa County Chairs, Eric Kruse. Jindal-mentum?

So all total, so far, this is where Walker’s people have gone:

  • Rubio – 5 IA, 1 NH, 1 SC
  • Bush – 2 IA, 1 WI, 1 GA
  • Cruz – 3 IA, 2 NV, 1 GA
  • Christie – 1 IA
  • Jindal – 1 IA

More to come…


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