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.
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…
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|
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:
More to come…
Since I’m still the resident undecided Republican, I went into this debate still interested in hearing all the candidate’s out to make up my mind. For reference, here was my take on the first debate. Again, I start up front with a warning – I dislike Donald Trump as a candidate, so my bias will be showing through the rest. Also, I’m a social conservative – so those issues matter to me. Quite a bit. I also remain undecided, even after the debate. I’ll go through the candidates individually, then talk my overall take on who helped themselves, and who didn’t, in this debate.
Based on my review of the debate last night, here’s my thoughts on how everyone did.
Helped Themselves A Lot: Fiorina, Rubio
Helped Themselves a Little: Bush, Christie
Did No Harm: Cruz, Huckabee, Trump, Walker
Did A Little Harm: Kasich, Paul
Crashed and Burned: Carson
Add in your comments below if you want, but be polite.
1. Marco Rubio U.S. Senator from Florida
Sen. Rubio holds the top spot in the rankings for his continued performance and potential, outshining his main rivals among the establishment. Rubio’s steady campaign has remained under the radar and disciplined while his main rivals, Scott Walker and Jeb Bush, have seen their favorability and electability numbers tank. The addition of Lanhee Chen to the senator’s foreign policy team is just the latest indication that the major influence leaders in the party are shifting towards Rubio. His favorability, debate performances, fundraising, and organization combine to make Rubio the best and most complete package the establishment could ask for.
2. Donald Trump Chairman and President of The Trump Organization
Trump’s campaign appears to have hit a ceiling this month, struggling to find more low-information voters to add to his carnival show. Trump stumbled badly when confronted on Foreign Policy 101 by radio host Hugh Hewitt, and added to his image as a misogynist with a misguided attack on Carly Fiorina’s looks. Trump’s bad month culminated in a humiliating defeat in the second GOP debate, where his incoherent policy ideas and childish personal attacks left him the clear loser with nowhere to go but down.
3. Jeb Bush former Governor of Florida
Gov. Bush slips further in the rankings, held up only by the strength of his financial advantage. Bush got the worse of a number of ill-advised exchanges with Trump, seeing his favorability and electability numbers crash. Rumors of the establishment abandoning Bush for a new candidate continue to grow, with even calls to draft former Gov. Mitt Romney once again rising among the donor class. Bush failed to reassure his supporters with another halting, awkward debate performance, though he handled himself better than in his first debate loss. Still, Bush continues to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, an establishment scion running in the most anti-establishment climate in a generation.
4. Ted Cruz U.S. Senator from Texas
Like Rubio, Cruz continues to move methodically, aiming to be the last conservative alternative standing. He’s built strong ties with evangelical and Tea Party leaders and could be the candidate who benefits the most from Donald Trump’s continued humiliation. His anti-Washington crusade has been strong in both the debates and on the stump, and the longer he flies under the radar, the more likely he is to be one of the last candidates standing.
5. Carly Fiorina former CEO of Hewlett-Packard
After dominating the first “Kid’s Table” debate, Fiorina went on to dominate the second main debate. With a better grasp of the issues than fellow outsiders Ben Carson and Donald Trump, and a more polished style, the former CEO will continue to rise, and will likely end up in the first tier by the time of the next debate.
6. John Kasich Governor of Ohio
Kasich’s small surge in New Hampshire has cooled off some as other candidates have begun going up on the air. The Ohio governor has added more establishment endorsements, continuing to chip away at Jeb Bush’s only strength. However, Gov. Kasich had a bad night in the second debate, and his answers on Iran will likely come back to hurt him throughout the primaries.
7. Ben Carson former Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital
Dr. Carson’s personable style has quietly earned him a large following on the right, but his weakness on foreign affairs will continue to weigh him down and leave him unable to capitalize on his surprising poll strength. His apology to Donald Trump after their brief exchange over religion doesn’t help his case as a strong leader.
8. Scott Walker Governor of Wisconsin
Walker’s slide turned into a nose-dive this month, with his flip-flopping and uneven performances continuing to dog him. He is fast becoming 2016’s Rick Perry; a good-on-paper conservative governor who flopped on the national stage.
9. Chris Christie Governor of New Jersey
The New Jersey governor is on the brink of falling out of the main stage debates, and he has launched a national advertising push in order to stave off elimination. His strong debate performance will likely give him a lifeline as will the continued implosion of Jeb Bush’s candidacy.
10. Rand Paul U.S. Senator from Kentucky
Paul has fast become an asterisk in the race, and could very well be bumped to the “Kid’s Table” debate next month. His confrontations with Trump have done nothing to move his numbers, and his fundraising has all but dried up. He may follow Perry out of the race rather than being relegated to the lower tier.
Drop Out Watch: Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, Rick Santorum, Jim Gilmore
John Zogby: “…one of the people who could face extinction tomorrow is Scott Walker…”
Scott Walker gained national esteem by beating public unions like the proverbial rug in Wisconsin. His premise: “Collective bargaining is not a right. It is an expensive entitlement.”
Early in his first term, Walker faced down public sector unions and tens of thousands of their members and compadres by making the payment of dues to said unions totally voluntary. This led to a massive de-funding of those unions and a decline in their membership of more than 60%. By the time he signed the bill turning Wisconsin into a Right To Work state it was anti-climactic. His war with unionization in the state had already been won.
Having lost his early lead in Iowa and his status as one of the front-runners nationally in the Republican 2016 nomination struggle, he returned to the fertile ground that started it all for him. To wit:
Is this enough to revive a flagging campaign? According to a poll last month, public approval of unions is up to 58%, up 10 points from 5 years ago. Union membership is down to 11% overall nationwide, and in the private sector it’s down to 6.6%. Unions have been losing elections in company after company for decades now. The general zeitgeist concerning unions seems to be that people don’t want to have any part of them, but they’re OK if others want them.
What the numbers hide is that many Republicans, and far more than the low single digits currently supporting Walker, have an intense antipathy toward unions. Something that has benefited Scott before, and even more than it benefited Christie’s rise to prominence in New Jersey when Chris reduced union pensions retroactively.
One possible major benefit is that Sheldon Adelson has said he wants to abolish collective bargaining. Scott could really use a sugar daddy right now, particularly one who’s worth a reported $26 Billion. Also, there’s room for contrast. Donald Trump in 2000 said “unions still have a place in American society.”
There are currently 26 states with both a Republican Governor and a Republican Legislature and 25 of them are Right To Work states. The only exception is John Kasich’s Ohio, and there too there is room for contrast. If Walker gets his way, there will be a lot more than 25. In my state of Missouri, e.g., the legislature has passed Right To Work by large margins because Republicans control the legislature by large margins. But we don’t control the legislature here by large enough margins to quite override a veto. A state like that could never pass a closed shop bill.
This is a debate that needs to be on the table, and kudos to Scott for attempting to place it there.
Hat tips to Ryan and Martha for their links to articles in Reason Magazine online and Politico, respectively!
Just a fun little story of Christie in NH with the Romney’s and Rubio’s from Christie’s appearance on the Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon.
With this morning’s Quinnipiac poll averaged in, here are the latest candidate averages as defined by the CNN debate criteria:
If this looks a little odd to you, you’re not the only one. Remember, CNN has determined they will average polls from July 16 to September 10 to determine who the top ten in the race are – meaning there will more than likely be more polls in their average from before the Cleveland debate than after it. This is mystifying because it doesn’t reflect the true state of the race, and Carly Fiorina is going to be the biggest casualty.
Notice in the CNN average, she is in 12th place with just 1.92%. However, if we were to look at just the three post-debate polls, she suddenly shoots up into 7th place:
It would be tough to see Fiorina, who has gotten 5% in every poll after her Cleveland debate performance, locked out of the grown-ups club this time around. She’s currently doing better than Christie, Paul, Huckabee, and Kasich, but still won’t have a seat at the table.
But wait — what if polling continues to put her at or around 5% from now until the debate? It still wouldn’t matter. Math is not on Fiorina’s side here because of CNN’s rules. I started playing around with my spreadsheet to see if I could figure out what it would take to get Fiorina into the top ten, then came across this article from The Fix where they already figured it out: for Fiorina to make CNN’s top ten debate, twenty more polls would have to be released between now and then showing her at 5%. Given how slowly polls are coming out this time around, that’s just not going to happen.
What this does is keep Chris Christie alive slightly longer (assuming the rumors of him dropping out after August aren’t true). It also gives Jeb Bush, Scott Walker and Mike Huckabee a nice artificial lift as well. Perception counts for a lot in a televised debate, and CNN’s numbers have Jeb and Walker flanking Trump at center stage, with Huckabee nearby. If, however, they used only post-Cleveland polls, Carson would be center stage with Trump with Jeb off to the side, and Huckabee would be over at the edge of the stage.