October 1, 2015

Of Trump and Vaudeville

  7:51 pm

Others have noted Donald Trump’s ‘reality’ show roots, and at least one media source (HuffPo) has relegated him to the entertainment page, rather than reporting on him as a politician. However one feels toward Trump (and I’ve made no secret of my own distaste), that’s a bit unfair, I think. The borders between show biz and politics have become very blurred in recent years, and I don’t know that he’s that much further across the line than others. Be that as it may, there is some validity to the idea of Trump’s campaign being as much entertainment as politics.

The foregoing was in the back of my mind while I was reading today about vaudeville.

Vaudeville was the most popular form of entertainment in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It consisted of a series of short performances strung together – a singer, a comedian, a dancer, perhaps dancing comedians, etc. Anybody old enough to remember the heyday of TV variety shows (Ed Sullivan, Dean Martin, etc) will recognize them as the successors to vaudeville.

So what does this have to do with Donald Trump? In addition to the acts I mentioned above, there was another category, called ‘novelty acts’. These might be women boxing, ‘talking’ animals, the hundred-year-ago equivalents of guys juggling chain saws, or anything else sufficiently weird to offer a few minutes entertainment. Here are a few examples, of which my favorite is Le Petomane:

Joseph Pujol made a living by farting, or rather, by drawing in and expelling air from his anus. He first shared his talent while serving in the French army and began performing professionally in 1887. Pujol, who went by the name Le Petomane on stage, performed fully clothed for most audiences and drew gasps and laughter from the crowd with the sounds he made, from impressions to melodies …

While the singers, comedians, and dancers might get contracts for several months, the novelty acts would generally get only a couple weeks. After all, once you’ve heard Le Petomane fart his way through Le Marseillaise two or three times, it gets kind of old

The analogy to Trump is that people like Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, et alii are the equivalents of the singers and dancers of old vaudeville, while Trump is the novelty act. He has been extremely successful by farting across the stage, doing and saying things that nobody has ever seen from a politician before.

But the audience is growing weary.


September 28, 2015

The Trump Tax Plan

  1:14 pm

I expected it to be a lot worse than it is. In fact, it’s a lot better than what we have now. It actually has many of the same features that Jeb’s and Marco’s have, which probably means that they were used as templates in it’s formation.

To start with, it’s designed to be revenue neutral, unlike Jeb’s, Marco’s, or Rand’s, which cut taxes more but reduce short term revenue.  Huck’s can be revenue neutral or an overall tax cut depending on what the consumption tax rate is set at. Revenue neutrality is ostensibly in it to not exacerbate the deficit.


1. It cuts the top individual rate to 25% from nearly 40% now, and cuts the current 7 brackets down to 4: 0%, 10%, 20%, and 25%.

2. It introduces a new business rate of no more than 15% within the personal income tax code. This is a novel idea and will be very friendly to small businesses.  It’s the plan’s best feature.

3. It completely eliminates the estate tax, much like the others.

4. Like all the specific Republican tax plans, it eliminates the marriage penalty.

5. Like jeb’s plan, it gets rid of the carried interest loophole that hedge fund managers have been abusing.

6. Something that will come in handy in the general campaign: it gets rid of taxes for single taxpayers earning less than $25,000 a year, and taxes for couples filling jointly if they make less than $50,000 a year.

Ramifications include what should be a major increase in the repatriation of overseas profits. While all the GOP plans do that, the importance of getting the $2 1/2 Trillion parked overseas by American corporations moved back to America,  something that will never happen if the tax code stays the same, can’t be emphasized enough. Our economy needs that money right here.  In like manner this plan should do away with corporate inversions and the trend to renounce U.S. citizenship in order to pay lower tax rates abroad.

So, if it lowers rates and gets rid of some taxes altogether, how is it revenue neutral?  This is somewhat vague.  It plans to phase in “a reasonable cap” on the deduction of business interest expenses, e.g.  In fact, there is a lot of seeming similarity between this plan, Jeb’s plan, and Marco’s plan, but with significant differences that will constitute a future FPP.

All three are based on the current code, incentivize business formation and competitiveness, reduce the tax burden on most Americans, simplify the existing code by eliminating much of its obfuscation and by  reducing the number of brackets, and address major problems like corporate inversions and the repatriation of foreign earnings.

I think it’s the most Republican element in Donald’s campaign.  But what do YOU think?


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 24, 2015

The Night Trump Lost at Twitter

  3:33 pm

Last night, National Review editor Rich Lowry went on Fox News’ The Kelly File and made the following declaration about Carly Fiorina and Donald Trump:

Part of what’s going on here is that last debate. Let’s be honest: Carly cut his balls off with the precision of a surgeon, and he knows it.

It was a phenomenal attack line – one of the best I’ve seen in recent political history – and it did exactly what it was intended to do: got under Donald Trump’s skin.

Trump lost it and, unhinged, called for Lowry to never “be allowed on TV” again; went whining to the FCC, saying they should fine Lowry; and demanded that Fox News apologize to him for Lowry’s remarks:

Seeing that he had Trump right where he wanted him, Lowry proceeded to unload:

lowry twitter

And then the Twitterverse did what the Twitterverse does best: piled on with brilliant responses of their own. Before long, Rich Lowry’s name and the hashtag #noballsTrump were both trending, and the new understanding of Donald Trump was reinforced over and over again: he’s a crybaby and a whiner. If Trump’s downward trend in the polls continues, we will have Rich Lowry, in part, to thank for it.

I’ve copied my favorite Twitter responses to Donald Trump’s hissy fit below the fold (click on “more…” to check them out). Enjoy, and post your favorites in the comments!



The Trump Decline is Real

  1:01 pm

Donald Trump has peaked, and is heading downhill.

Although the timing of several recent polls mask the effect, the RCP average lays it out plainly for all to see:

rcp 9-24-15

Trump’s high point during his campaign came in early September when he hit 33% in a single poll, or 31% in the RCP average. Since his comments about Fiorina were made public and he was demolished during the Simi Valley debate, he has slid into the mid-20s. Currently, he sits at 24% on RCP, a decline of 7% in a matter of one week (he was at 31% on 9/17). That represents a loss of 23% of his overall support — a result consistent with what we’re seeing nationally as well as in individual states.

So in the past week, one quarter of the passengers on the Trump train have bailed. Here’s what that means, and what that doesn’t mean.

What that means is Trump’s momentum is stalled. For a campaign built almost entirely on momentum (Trump spends an inordinate amount of time during his stump speeches talking about all the polls he’s leading), this will prove to be problematic moving forward. And not only is his momentum stalled, he now faces negative momentum for only the second time this campaign (and significant negative momentum for the first time). After the Cleveland debate, Trump’s numbers saw a small dip, equating to about two and a half percent in the RCP average. However, when Trump came out swinging against Fox News and Megyn Kelly, Trump’s numbers not only recovered, they began heading northward at a rapid clip. This latest dip, however, is much worse for Trump, to the tune of three times as many passengers jumping off the train. It is also worse for Trump because we are seeing, for the first time, media stories highlighting the downturn of Trump’s numbers. Using the media as a mouthpiece to enhance his momentum was a major reason Trump got to where he was a week ago. Once he loses the media, it will be difficult for him to maintain that level of buzz and excitement.

What it also means is there appears to be a cumulative effect to Trump’s behavior. We saw his numbers very briefly stall after his comments about McCain and POWs, but he rapidly regained his footing. We then saw his numbers stall and dip slightly after the first debate, but after about a week he was able to regain his footing again. Now we are seeing his numbers stall and take a major dip. Each time Trump stumbles, his standing in the polls dips a little lower for a little longer.

What this doesn’t mean is that Trump is finished. It would be tempting, but foolish, to write Trump’s obituary at this point. As we’ve said, Trump has recovered twice before from downturns of fortune in this race. It is entirely in the realm of possibility that he recovers from this one, too, even if it’s a larger hole and takes longer to do so. After all, even after losing a quarter of his supporters, Trump still leads in every national poll. That’s still going to be what he trumpets and what the media reports. Until he slides into repeated second or third place finishes, we cannot declare his campaign dead in the water — and until more candidates drop out of the race, it’s difficult to see that happening.

What we should watch moving forward is how Trump responds to this downturn. Both times his campaign has stalled before, he reignited his momentum by doubling down on his “tough guy fighter” shtick. He is apparently attempting to do the same thing this time around as well, renewing his spat with Megyn Kelly and Fox News and going after journalists like NRO’s Rich Lowry (more on that hilarious fight in another post…). However, it is increasingly obvious that Trump is a one-trick pony: the only tool he has in his political arsenal is to denigrate others, and it’s wearing thin. Fox News has publicly declared Trump’s antics to be “old and stale,” and dozens of folks are pointing out that Trump’s latest round of personal attacks sounds more like whining than fighting. Because of the size of the field, Trump has a little bit of breathing room here to turn this around before he loses his first place status in the polls. Once that happens, it’s difficult to see him making a comeback of any kind.


September 23, 2015

Jindal Web Ad: From Winning to Whining

  3:35 pm

At this point, it certainly looks like Governor Jindal’s sole reason for remaining in the GOP race is to take out Donald Trump. He released this new web ad today, in which even Charlie Sheen, after being subjected to Trump’s whining, declares himself bored with the whole thing:

For someone who’s supposedly so tough and such a fighter, this latest line of attack – “he’s whiny” combined with “we’re bored” – might just be… what was the term? A linguistic kill shot?


Trump, Declining and Frustrated, Attempts to Remain Relevant by… Boycotting Fox News?

  1:04 pm

According to the latest polls, Donald Trump has lost a quarter of his support nationally. He’s lost a quarter of his support in Iowa. He’s lost a quarter of his support in Arizona. He’s lost nearly half his support in New Hampshire. The media is covering him less and less, and the coverage they are giving him is more and more critical.

That decline has led to an increasingly frustrated Donald Trump, who has taken to Twitter over the past couple of days to drudge up, seemingly out of nowhere, his old feud with Fox News host Megyn Kelly. He’s attacked her personally and retweeted folks who attacked her personally. He then began going on rants against Fox News in general, whining about how unfair they were being to him. His main two complaints? Fox News wasn’t reporting the online surveys that showed him leading after the debate (sound familiar?) and they had the gall – the gall! – to have guests on their shows who were critical of him.

Because of these two apparently mortal sins committed by Fox News, the man who declared he was a fighter has now declared that he will… boycott Fox News. That’s right, in response to (in Trump’s own words) being “treated very unfairly,” Trump is tucking his tail and running. Rather than engaging in a national dialog and defending his thoughts in a marketplace of ideas, he has decided that an ill-fated attempt aimed at causing economic harm was the better choice.

It should come as no surprise by this point, however. Trump’s fascist-like approach to the media (yes, I use that word on purpose) is already on full display in Iowa. After the Des Moines Register wrote a scathing rebuke of Trump on their editorial page, Trump has refused to issue them press passes to any of his events. Trump did the same with the Huffington Post, who cheekily made the decision to post their Trump news on their “Entertainment” page rather than their “Politics” page. Trump’s response was the same: deny them press passes to his events.

Whether or not one agrees with the Des Moines Register, the Huffington Post, or Fox News (now there’s a motley crew), this pattern reveals two very disconcerting things about Donald Trump. First, he’s narcissistic, ridiculously thin-skinned, and clearly cannot handle criticism. Secondly, and more importantly, the way Donald Trump chooses to deal with those who criticize him is to act punitively. Both of these characteristics are not only undesirable in a leader, they are dangerous as well.

Luckily, if this post-Fiorina-attack decline continues, America will never have to face the possibility of Trump leading us anywhere. For now, we can all enjoy the added bonus of a Trump-free Fox News.


September 18, 2015

An Undecided Republican’s Post-CNN Debate Thoughts

  6:00 am

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.

  • Jeb Bush – Bush did better. He was more energetic, his swipes at Trump were pointed and logical. He defended himself better than in the previous debate, but at times he still came across as uncomfortable. There are some issues he just does not seem to feel comfortable talking about and on those issues, he falters. It is also clear he’s sick of talking about his brother’s tenure and the comparisons. I would be too, but he needs to get over it because HIS BROTHER WAS PRESIDENT. The comparisons are going to happen, there’s no avoiding it. Get over it and find a way to respond as gracefully as you can while pointing out your own record.
  • Ben Carson – Ben Carson’s soft-spoken demeanor came through poorly in the second debate. Given a lot more questions than previously, he answered them either in a wishy washy fashion at times or not at all. I thought he had the most to gain from a good performance and the most to lose with a bad one. I think he had a bad one. His policy answers showed a lack of understanding at times, or an unwillingness to really respond, especially on foreign policy. His tax policy answer where he basically said, “Flat tax, but maybe not…” was perhaps one of the weakest of the night. Also, he had the perfect opportunity as a doctor to shut down Trump’s harmful (and completely scientifically disproven) attempts to link vaccines to autism. When asked, “Should Trump stop?” the answer should have been, “Absolutely.” It wasn’t, that disappointed me. His closing wasn’t bad, but not as memorable as last time. I see him dropping in the polls after this debate.
  • Chris Christie – Christie did something I was not expecting. He focused hard and often on life issues. His pro-life stances, pro-life discussions were some of his most passionate and I appreciated this from Christie. Christie kept up being the foreign policy hawk and, frankly, I think does rather well in these “joint press conference” debate settings. Which, frankly, surprises me. In a setting like this, he doesn’t come across as abrasive as you would expect, but as a passionate fighter. He once again had exchanges with Rand Paul and, once again, I felt did better than Paul – including in legalizing marijuana where Christie looked like the grown up once again as Paul misconstrued Christie’s record on medical marijuana. As a person who came into this primary season ambivalent about Christie, how much I’ve liked him in the debates has been the shock for me of the primary season.
  • Ted Cruz – Ted Cruz was polished, well spoken, and…still not that exciting. He did better than the last debate, but as my wife who is also an undecided primary voter said – he was forgettable. When he spoke to issues he was passionate about, he was…okay. When he didn’t, he came across as a generic conservative politician. Which also surprised me, Cruz doesn’t seem generic, but in this setting – that’s how he feels. There’s nothing to really make him stand out, besides his continued unnecessary defense of Trump.
  • Carly Fiorina – Fiorina crushed it. No, really. Every answer she gave was on pretty much on point. She was passionate about life issues and pointed to the Planned Parenthood tapes. She was a defender of her record in a way which was not off-putting. She defended limited government. She had good, memorable answers. And she was the only one with the chutzpah in the room to say that putting a woman on the $10 bill felt like it was pandering and a gimmick. She had a great, personal response on the drug war. I get why she got the poll jump after the first debate, I foresee a big one as a wider audience was introduced to her.
  • Mike Huckabee – Huckabee continues to be Huckabee. He’s got a folksy charm and loves to talk about the Fair Tax. That’s about it. His defense of Kim Davis was underwhelming at best. There was a point to be made there (that she could have been accommodated like she is right now from the beginning where she could have others sign off on the licenses, but was denied it), but that wasn’t really made.
  • John Kasich – I think Kasich was off-putting and abrasive at times, which was surprising with how he did in the previous debate. His answers on foreign policy were weak and, in some cases, non-answers to the questions. Kasich came across as a more of a generic moderate politician, not as the active uniter he tried to present himself in the first debate. I don’t think it helped, but I’m unsure if he was memorable enough to have been hurt.
  • Rand Paul – Rand Paul continues to, when he had time, to serve as the libertarian alternative. He did better than he did last time, but still wasn’t great. He was a bit of a one trick pony with his answers and felt canned. His exchange with Christie on medical marijuana was repetitive and, frankly, wasn’t very persuasive. His responses on foreign policy left much to be desired for people with even the smallest inkling of being a foreign policy hawk.
  • Marco Rubio – Rubio sometimes feels too good in these debates, especially by comparison. But, seriously, he did incredibly well. He was personal, polite, well versed on foreign policy, great on life issues, and very well spoken. I don’t know what else to say about it other than that – nice work, Senator.
  • Donald Trump – Trump did better than in the previous debate. That’s not saying much. I think his hardcore supporters opinions won’t change, but I think average Americans who were on the fence will be left wanting. His rolling his eyes at other candidates, his unwillingness to apologize to Columba Bush for his rude comments, his strange comment where he called Fiorina attractive (and Fiorina’s takedown of Trump’s comment with a quick one-liner) are not going to win him any points. Him continuing to embrace junk science on immunizations is infuriatingly foolish. I hope we start to see the Trump bubble burst, but what do I know. I never understood the draw to the liberalism of Trump and I still don’t.
  • Scott Walker – I asked my wife after watching the entire debate with me having verbal commentary the entire time what she thought about Scott Walker. Her answer: Who was that? He wasn’t memorable. His answers weren’t terrible. His discussion of his record, his plans he put forward, even his answers on foreign policy were well thought out and given adequately. But that’s just it – it was only adequate. He didn’t shine, he just was kind of there and that seems to be his problem this entire campaign so far. The man was elected Governor of Wisconsin 3 times in 4 years and has a solid record. I don’t see how that person could be the same person we’re seeing in these debates.

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.


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


September 17, 2015


  12:13 pm

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


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