March 25, 2015

POWER RANKINGS: March

1.  Scott Walker  Governor of Wisconsin

The governor of Wisconsin has become the surprising early frontrunner, using his battle-tested record in the Badger State to bolster his standing in Iowa and New Hampshire. The early polling shows Walker has the most appeal among the GOP’s widening factions. Still, he has stumbled over several easy questions and with early staffing problems, leading some to wonder if he can handle the grind of a national campaign.

2.  Jeb Bush  former Governor of Florida

Gov. Bush continues to consolidate the party establishment and lock up major bundlers and donors, but so far that insider strength is not reflected in the polls. Bush lags in the early states for someone with such a famous name and his numbers among conservatives are dreadful. Still, Bush’s massive financial edge could more than make up the difference.

3.  Marco Rubio  U.S. Senator from Florida

Sen. Rubio is methodically building his 2016 effort, focusing on ideas and policies rather than splashy headlines. His efforts are winning plaudits in the early states, and earning him some of the best early poll numbers on favorability and likability. Sen. Rubio has also worked hard to build a relationship with 2012 nominee Mitt Romney. The senator has locked up a number of top Romney staffers, with more likely to join up soon.

4.  Ted Cruz  U.S. Senator from Texas

The Tea Party favorite was the first candidate officially out of the gate, launching his campaign from Liberty University, a direct play to win over the evangelical base. Despite his doubters in the mainstream press, the Princeton and Harvard-educated lawyer is in a strong position to unite the Tea Party and evangelical factions of the GOP.

5.  Rand Paul  U.S. Senator from Kentucky

The libertarian-leaning senator remains a top contender due to his his strong grassroots organization in Iowa and New Hampshire. Paul has successfully capitalized on his father’s prior campaigns to gain a foothold in the early states. However, with the growing crisis in the Middle East and the pending nuclear deal with Iran, Paul will find himself at odds with a more hawkish GOP.

6.  Mike Huckabee  former Governor of Arkansas

The author and former Fox News host retains positive favorable numbers and a deep connection to the party’s evangelical Christian wing while struggling with the donor class. Despite strong name recognition, Huckabee hasn’t been able to build a viable fundraising network outside of the evangelical grassroots. He seems to be far from the candidate he was in 2008, with a number of odd gaffes kicking off his 2016 consideration.

7.  Bobby Jindal  Governor of Louisiana

Gov. Jindal has worked hard to win over the evangelical and activist base of the party without burning bridges to the establishment. His efforts haven’t shown up in the polls as of yet, but they could help him stick around as a top second choice for a number of the GOP’s disparate factions.

8.  Chris Christie  Governor of New Jersey

Christie’s numbers at home continue to drop, and many are now wondering if the governor will pass on the 2016 race entirely. His team, however, believes Christie is still the best candidate on the stump, and will engineer a comeback to the top tier in the town halls of New Hampshire.

9.  John Kasich  Governor of Ohio

With upcoming visits to early primary states, Kasich has started to generate real buzz that he’s interested in the 2016 race. With a record of success in the nation’s most important swing state, the Ohio governor could be a dark horse establishment prospect if Jeb Bush stumbles.

10.  Ben Carson  retired neurosurgeon from Maryland

The conservative firebrand continues to build towards a campaign, despite a series of gaffes that highlight his controversial stances on social issues and his lack of experience. Dr. Carson will have to improve dramatically to capitalize on the real buzz, and money, his prospects have generated.

Honorable Mention:  Rick Perry, Carly Fiorina, Mike Pence

No Chance: Lindsey Graham, Rick Santorum, Donald Trump

 

 

February 26, 2015

Ben Carson at CPAC

Ben Carson gives the opening address at CPAC. C-SPAN has video of the first round of speeches here. His speech begins at 11:45.  It runs about twenty minutes.

Here are just a couple highlights:

“It’s interesting to me that the Left in particular loves to re-label and rename things. For instance, if you’re pro-life, you’re anti-woman. If you’re pro-traditional family, then you’re a homophobe…if you’re black, and you oppose a progressive agenda, you’re crazy. .”

“We are a very smart people and a very compassionate people, and we need to find out how [to] strengthen the framework of this country. It is our responsibility to take care of the indigent; it is not the government’s responsibility.”

PPP has him in second place behind Scott Walker and ahead of Jeb Bush in their latest national poll. Quinipiac recently had him in third place in Iowa, trailing Walker and Rand Paul, tied with Mike Huckabee, and once again ahead of Jeb Bush who only manages a fifth place finish.

For now he is solidly on the leaderboard. Can he stay there? Who knows. Go to the video and determine for yourself if you think he has what it takes to finish strong, or if he is going to end up being just another flash-in-the-pan.

 

 

by @ 3:46 pm. Filed under Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Scott Walker

February 25, 2015

Poll Watch: Quinnipiac Iowa 2016 Republican Caucus Survey

Quinnipiac Iowa 2016 GOP Caucus Poll

  • Scott Walker 25%
  • Rand Paul 13%
  • Ben Carson 11%
  • Mike Huckabee 11%
  • Jeb Bush 10%
  • Ted Cruz 5%
  • Chris Christie 4%
  • Marco Rubio 4%
  • Rick Santorum 4%
  • Rick Perry 3%
  • Bobby Jindal 2%
  • John Kasich 0%

Survey of 623 likely Iowa Republican caucus participants was conducted February 16-23, 2015.  The margin of error is +/- 3.9 percentage points. Gender: 60% Men; 40% Women. Political philosophy: 45% Very conservative; 28% Somewhat conservative; 25% Moderate/Liberal.

Thoughts:

  • Walker’s doing very well in Iowa. He nearly doubles his closest competitor and enjoys a double digit lead.
  • Carson continues to be a strong second tier candidate.
  • The second tier in Iowa currently is Paul, Carson, Huckabee, Bush. They are bunched up within 3 ppts of each other — the MOE.
  • Bush barely cracks double digits.
  • The “noise” candidates are Cruz, Christie, Rubio,  Santorum, Perry, and Jindal. They are in the lower single digits with only Cruz managing to crack 5 ppts.
  • I am continually struck at the poor showing of Rick Santorum. He finished second in 2012. He should, by all rights, be at least in the second tier, but he consistently polls at or near the bottom of every poll.

-Data compilation and analysis courtesy of The Argo Journal

February 24, 2015

Poll Watch: PPP (D) 2016 Republican Nomination Survey

PPP has just released their latest 2016 Presidential polling for the Republican Nomination. Their results for the end of February are as follows:

PPP (D) 2016 GOP Nomination Poll

  • Scott Walker 25% (11%)
  • Ben Carson 18% (15%)
  • Jeb Bush 17% (17%)
  • Mike Huckabee 10% (9%)
  • Chris Christie 5% (7%)
  • Ted Cruz 5% (9%)
  • Rand Paul 4% (4%)
  • Rick Perry 3% (2%)
  • Marco Rubio 3%
  • Someone else/Not sure 11% (5%)

Survey of 316 Republican primary voters was conducted February 20-22, 2015.  The margin of error is +/- 5.5 percentage points.  Political ideology: 38% (38%) Somewhat conservative; 38% (35%) Very conservative; 17% (21%) Moderate; 6% (5%) Somewhat liberal; 2% (1%) Very liberal. Results from the poll conducted January 22-25, 2015 are in parentheses.

Trend lines:

PPP 2016 GOP Presidential Race

Some thoughts:

  1. I think it safe to call Scott Walker the legitimate front runner for now. This in spite of the almost manic frenzy the liberal press has been having lately trying to knock him out of the race.
  2. Jeb Bush is not doing so well. He is stagnating.
  3. Ben Carson is doing very well. He even tops Bush, though well within the MOE.
  4. Mike Huckabee is the only candidate that went from single to double digits. The rest of the field: Christie, Cruz, Paul, Perry, and Rubio — are going nowhere fast.
  5. Mitt Romney dropped out. Now that the dust is beginning to settle, it would appear that Walker and Someone Else/Not Sure are the key beneficiaries of Mitt’s withdrawal.

-Data compilation and analysis courtesy of The Argo Journal

February 23, 2015

Poll Watch: YeeHaw! Cruz and Walker Lead in Texas

A new poll out of Texas has Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Texas Senator Ted Cruz neck and neck in the race for the 2016 GOP Presidential nomination. The University of Texas / Texas Tribune have released the following results:

  • Ted Cruz 20% [27%] (33%) {28%} [32%] (25%)
  • Scott Walker 19% [2%] (4%) {6%} [1%]
  • Jeb Bush 9% [7%] (7%) {8%} [9%]
  • Ben Carson 9% [10%]
  • Rick Perry 8% [14%] (7%) {10%} [10%] (10%)
  • Mike Huckabee 5% [7%] (8%)
  • Rand Paul 4% [7%] (9%) {10%} [6%] (13%)
  • Marco Rubio 4% [3%] (6%) {6%} [6%] (11%)
  • Sarah Palin 3%
  • Chris Christie 2% [3%] (3%) {4%} [4%] (8%)
  • Bobby Jindal 1% [2%] (2%) {6%} [3%] (2%)
  • Rick Santorum 1% [1%] (1%) {4%} [3%] (2%)
  • John Kasich 1% [0%]
  • Carly Fiorina 0%
  • John Bolton 0%
  • Lindsey Graham 0%

Internet survey of 547 registered GOP primary voters was conducted February 6-15, 2015. The margin of error is +/- 4.19 percentage points.Results from the poll conducted October 10-19, 2014 are in square brackets. Results from the poll conducted May 30 – June 8, 2014 are in parentheses. Results from the poll conducted February 7-17, 2014 are in curly brackets. Results from the poll conducted October 18-27, 2013are in square brackets. Results from the poll conducted May 31 – June 9, 2013 are in parentheses.

The Tribune is calling it a tie.

The result I find most interesting is Rick Perry is in fifth place with less than half the support of either of the front runners. If this keeps up, his nascent 2016 campaign isn’t going to do much better than his 2012 campaign.

-Data compilation and analysis courtesy of The Argo Journal

February 20, 2015

Poll Watch: PPP (D) South Carolina 2016 Presidential Survey

  • Mike Huckabee (R) 49%
  • Hillary Clinton (D) 41%
  • Ben Carson (R) 48%
  • Hillary Clinton (D) 41%
  • Jeb Bush (R) 49%
  • Hillary Clinton (D) 42%
  • Rick Perry (R) 48%
  • Hillary Clinton (D) 43%
  • Scott Walker (R) 46%
  • Hillary Clinton (D) 42%
  • Ted Cruz (R) 46%
  • Hillary Clinton (D) 43%
  • Chris Christie (R) 43%
  • Hillary Clinton (D) 41%
  • Lindsey Graham (R) 45%
  • Hillary Clinton (D) 43%
  • Rand Paul (R) 45%
  • Hillary Clinton (D) 43%
  • Jeb Bush (R) 50%
  • Elizabeth Warren (D) 34%
  • Jeb Bush (R) 53%
  • Joe Biden (D) 36%

Survey of 868 registered South Carolina voters was conducted February 12-15, 2015. The margin of error is +/- 3.3 percentage points. Party ID: 44% Republican; 32% Democrat; 25% Independent/Other. Ideology: 33% Moderate; 27% Somewhat conservative; 19% Very conservative; 13% Somewhat liberal; 9% Very liberal.

-Data compilation and analysis courtesy of The Argo Journal

February 19, 2015

Thoughts On the Latest CNN Poll

The latest CNN poll, as posted below, has Huckabee in the lead with Bush and Walker close behind. After all the usual disclaimers of it being a super early poll and all that goes with it, here are my thoughts:

I LOVE IT!!!

I can’t help it. It’s not that I am a big fan of Huckabee; I’m not. It’s just that I do not care all the much for Jeb Bush. Any poll that shows the “Republican Establishment’s” anointed one trailing is a good poll for me.

Bush represents the R.E. in a way that Mitt Romney never really did. Sure, they supported Mitt since he just might end up winning the White House, and he was the closest thing in the field to being one of them, but few of them ever seemed all that enthusiastic about him. They tended to treat him more like an outsider, which is not all that surprising really. Mitt never was much of a professional politician. He was a business leader who tried his hand at politics. His financial connections allowed him to get his foot into the clubhouse door but that’s about it. He never was a full member of the club.

Bush is different. The R.E. LOVES him. He’s one of their own after all — a true political insider, a full member of the club.  He has the backing of the Bush political machine, a machine that has won three Presidential campaigns. He’s a man that the professionals can get excited about. But they seem to be the only ones who are all that enthused for him.

How much support does Bush have outside of the R.E.? It doesn’t appear to be all that much. In that respect, he reminds me of John McCain and Bob Dole before him. The only people who seemed to have gotten really excited about either of those two were the members of the R.E.. The rank and file never showed that much enthusiasm for either of them. McCain did manage to hit a rich vein of grassroots support when he chose Sarah Palin for his running-mate, but for himself, there was very little.

Who are the candidates that currently have some serious core support among the rank and file? I would say there are three who currently have the capability of double digit support. In alphabetical order they are:

  • Huckabee,
  • Paul
  • Walker

I don’t see a whole lot of enthusiasm out there for anybody else, at least none that can be measured anywhere near double digits.

Do you?

 

by @ 12:45 pm. Filed under Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, Sarah Palin, Scott Walker

Poll Watch: CNN/ORC 2016 Republican Nomination Survey

CNN/ORC 2016 GOP Nomination Poll

  • Mike Huckabee 17% {6%} [10%] (12%) {11%} [10%] (10%) {14%}
  • Jeb Bush 12% {23%} [14%] (8%) {12%} [13%] (9%) {10%} [6%] (10%)
  • Rand Paul 11% {6%} [8%] (12%) {14%} [13%] (16%) {13%} [13%] (13%)
  • Scott Walker 11% {4%} [5%] (5%) {5%} [7%]
  • Ben Carson 9% {7%} [11%]
  • Chris Christie 7% {13%} [9%] (13%) {8%} [9%] (8%) {10%} [24%] (17%)
  • Marco Rubio 6% {5%} [3%] (6%) {8%} [6%] (5%) {9%} [9%] (9%)
  • Ted Cruz 3% {4%} [7%] (8%) {9%} [7%] (8%) {8%} [10%] (7%)
  • John Kasich 2% {3%} [3%]
  • Rick Perry 2% {4%} [5%] (11%) {6%} [8%] (11%) {8%} [7%] (6%)
  • Rick Santorum 2% {2%} [2%] (3%) {4%} [2%] (3%) {4%} [6%] (5%)
  • Carly Fiorina 1%
  • Lindsey Graham 1%
  • Bobby Jindal 1% {4%} [1%]

Survey of 436 Republicans and GOP-leaning Independents was conducted February 12-15, 2015.  The margin of error is +/- 4.5 percentage points. Results from the poll conducted December 18-21, 2014 are in curly brackets. Results from the poll conducted November 21-23, 2014 are in square brackets. Results from the poll conducted July 18-20, 2014 are in parentheses.  Results from the poll conducted May 29 – June 1, 2014 are in curly brackets.  Results from the poll conducted May 2-4, 2014 are in square brackets. Results from the poll conducted March 7-9, 2014 are in parentheses.   Results from the poll conducted January 31 – February 2, 2014 are in curly brackets.  Results from the poll conducted November 18-20, 2013 are in square brackets.  Results from the poll conducted September 6-8, 2013 are in parentheses.

-Data compilation and analysis courtesy of The Argo Journal

by @ 4:00 am. Filed under 2016, Mike Huckabee, Poll Watch, Republican Party

February 16, 2015

Nevada Might Actually Matter

Scott Conroy has an interesting article on RCP today, arguing that, with Mitt Romney out, Nevada might be important this cycle.

I read it shortly after looking through the NBC/Marist polls below that show three different leaders in the first three states. Though I am thoroughly skeptical of polls this far in advance of voting, I considered the off-chance that they might be right, and that Mike Huckabee might win Iowa, Jeb Bush New Hampshire, and Lindsey Graham South Carolina. In that unlikely scenario, Nevada might play a huge role as a tie-breaker (or logjam-breaker). Except:

Though it is far too early to put much weight into such surveys, a poll conducted by the group Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions found a wide-open race among likely GOP caucus-goers with Scott Walker (18 percent), Jeb Bush (12 percent) and Rand Paul (9 percent) constituting the top three.

Oh great, four winners in four states!

by @ 12:05 pm. Filed under Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Scott Walker, Uncategorized

Poll Watch: NBC News/Marist Early State 2016 Republican Primary/Caucus Surveys

NBC News/Marist Iowa 2016 GOP Caucus Poll

  • Mike Huckabee 17%
  • Jeb Bush 16% (12%)
  • Scott Walker 15% (5%)
  • Chris Christie 9% (8%)
  • Rand Paul 7% (12%)
  • Marco Rubio 6% (7%)
  • Ben Carson 6%
  • Rick Santorum 5% (9%)
  • Rick Perry 4% (7%)
  • Ted Cruz 2% (7%)
  • Lindsey Graham 1%
  • Undecided 14% (20%)

Survey of 320 potential GOP caucus-goers was conducted February 3-10, 2015.  The margin of error is +/- 5.5 percentage points. Results from the poll conducted July 7-13, 2014 are in parentheses.

NBC News/Marist New Hampshire 2016 GOP Primary Poll

  • Jeb Bush 18% (10%)
  • Scott Walker 15% (6%)
  • Rand Paul 14% (14%)
  • Chris Christie 13% (13%)
  • Mike Huckabee 7%
  • Ben Carson 7%
  • Ted Cruz 6% (9%)
  • Marco Rubio 6% (7%)
  • Rick Perry 1% (5%)
  • Lindsey Graham 1%
  • Rick Santorum 1% (3%)
  • Undecided 13% (22%)

Survey of 381 potential GOP primary voters was conducted February 3-10, 2015.  The margin of error is +/- 5.0 percentage points. Results from the poll conducted July 7-13, 2014 are in parentheses.

NBC News/Marist South Carolina 2016 GOP Primary Poll

  • Lindsey Graham 17%
  • Jeb Bush 15%
  • Scott Walker 12%
  • Mike Huckabee 10%
  • Ben Carson 10%
  • Rand Paul 7%
  • Chris Christie 6%
  • Marco Rubio 4%
  • Rick Perry 4%
  • Rick Santorum 3%
  • Ted Cruz 1%
  • Undecided 11%

Survey of 450 potential GOP primary voters was conducted February 3-10, 2015. The margin of error is +/- 4.6 percentage points.

-Data compilation and analysis courtesy of The Argo Journal

by @ 4:00 am. Filed under 2016, Iowa Caucuses, Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Poll Watch, Republican Party

February 5, 2015

News Cycle Flavors Just Beginning

It might be 11 months until the first voting in the opening event of the U.S. 2016 presidential election, but there can be little doubt that the “on” button has been pressed for this highest profile quadrennial contest.

Mitt Romney’s decision not to run again has set a great deal into motion. Jeb Bush, as a result, is now the consensus “frontrunner.”

Following the recent Citizens United unofficial debate in Des Moines, we now also have the first informal “flavor of the news cycle,” Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Mr. Walker stole the show among the potential candidates (I personally thought that non-candidate New Gingrich gave the most important speech) with a shirt-sleeved talk that exceeded media expectations. The governor recently won a hard-fought re-election after initiating a series of controversial but much-applauded (by conservatives) executive actions in the Badger State. He is, of course, a very long way from the nomination (and hasn’t even formally announced), but he now clearly merits elevation to the first tier of GOP prospects, joining Jeb Bush and Chris Christie.

But he will not be the last main flavor of the news cycle in 2015. This process has a certain similarity to a team pitching rotation in major league baseball. Each starting hurler gets to pitch every four or five days. In this case, most of the serious GOP hopefuls will do something unusual to obtain media attention, and following that, they will temporarily lead in the polls. This pattern will be repeated routinely, especially after the first formal debates begin in the autumn, and subsequently after each debate — unless, of course, one frontrunning candidate catches on early and the contest becomes more or less moot.

Look for New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie already in the first tier, to become the flavor of the news cycle later, after the debates (in which he will probably shine) begin. If he decides to run, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, also an excellent speaker, could become the flavor of the news cycle after winning an early primary. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul could also reach high flavor if his supporters succeed in placing him upward in an early primary or caucus. Physician Ben Carson is already a conservative favorite, and is already showing strong numbers in early polls. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum already have been flavors of the news cycle in 2011-12, but it will be difficult for them to repeat this success in 2016 — with the public and the media clamoring, as they always do, for new faces and sensations.

Be also prepared for a surprise flavor of the news cycle after someone now not expected to run gets into the race and steals attention away, at least for a while, from the frontrunners.

Remember Herman Cain?

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

February 3, 2015

Huckabee’s Beyoncé Bombast Bombs in Iowa

Iowa is an important state for Mike Huckabee. If he can’t finish first here, or at least as the top SoCon vote-getter, it is hard to imagine how he’d ever recover.

The DMJ’s recent poll asked Iowans what they thought of Mike’s recent shots at Beyoncé and his criticisms of the Obamas for allowing their daughters to listen to her. The results are as follows:

In his recently published book, Mike Huckabee criticized the singer Beyoncé, calling her “mental poison.” Do you think Huckabee is mostly right about Beyoncé, or did he go too far?

Mostly Right Went Too Far Not Sure
Democrats 6 81 13
Republicans 40 38 22

Conducted Jan. 26 – 29. 401 are registered Iowa voters who say they definitely or probably will attend the 2016 Democratic caucuses, and 402 are registered Iowa voters who say they definitely or probably will attend the Republican caucuses. MOE is 4.9%

Well, that wasn’t too bad. It was neither a hit nor a miss with the Republican caucus goers. It was more a wash than anything. However check out what they think of Huckabee criticizing the Obamas’ parenting skills:

Mike Huckabee said the Obamas were guilty of bad parenting for allowing their daughters to listen to her music. Do you think Huckabee is mostly right about the Obamas, or did he go too far?

Mostly Right Went Too Far Not Sure
Democrats 2 95 3
Republicans 23 61 16

Ouch! That certainly didn’t help him. It went over like the proverbial lead balloon. Nearly three times as many Republican caucus goers thought he went too far as compared to those who thought he was mostly right.

Why does this image come to mind?

 

by @ 9:35 am. Filed under Iowa Caucuses, Mike Huckabee

February 2, 2015

Poll Watch: Loras College Iowa 2016 Republican Caucus Survey

Loras College Iowa 2016 GOP Caucus Poll

  • Mike Huckabee 14.4% (14.7%)
  • Jeb Bush 13.1% (10.7%)
  • Ben Carson 12.8%
  • Scott Walker 9.9% (4.7%)
  • Rand Paul 7.0% (8.5%)
  • Chris Christie 5.4% (8.0%)
  • Ted Cruz 5.4% (6.2%)
  • Marco Rubio 4.2% (4.7%)
  • Rick Santorum 3.8% (4.7%)
  • Rick Perry 3.2% (3.0%)
  • Bobby Jindal 1.6%
  • Carly Fiorina 1.3%
  • John Kasich 1.3% (0.7%)
  • Lindsey Graham 0.6%

Survey of 316 likely Iowa GOP caucus-goers was conducted January 21-24, 2015. The margin of error is +/- 5.5 percentage points. Click here to view crosstabs. Results from the poll conducted April 7-8, 2014 are in parentheses.

-Data compilation and analysis courtesy of The Argo Journal

by @ 4:00 am. Filed under 2016, Iowa Caucuses, Mike Huckabee, Poll Watch, Republican Party

January 29, 2015

Poll Watch: Fox Has Mitt On Top

Fox News released their latest poll.

The horse race (394 Republicans):

  • Mitt Romney 21%
  • Mike Huckabee 11%
  • Rand Paul 11%
  • Jeb Bush 10%
  • Ben Carson 9%
  • Scott Walker 8%
  • Marco Rubio 5%
  • Chris Christie 4%
  • Ted Cruz 4%
  • Rick Perry 4%
  • Bobby Jindal 2%
  • John Kasich 1%
  • Rick Santorum 1%
  • Lindsey Graham 1%
  • Don’t Know 5%
  • None 4%
  • Other 1%

The poll was conducted by telephone with live interviewers January 25-27, 2015 among a random national sample of 1,009 registered voters (RV). Results based on the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

Head to head versus (Hillary)

  • Romney 46 / (46)
  • Paul 44 / (47)
  • Bush 43 / ( 48)
  • Christie 42 / (48)

 

January 27, 2015

Charlie Cook’s Brackets

Since we had some fun yesterday with placing our bets in Vegas, let’s try doing brackets today. Charlie Cook, in the National Journal, divided the Republican field into four groups – the Establishment, Conservative Governors, the Tea Party, and Social Conservatives.

As always, things aren’t this simple — there are Governors in all four groups, for example – but still, it’s an interesting and different way to look at the field. It will probably help clarify things if you read Cook’s article (it’s short) to see how he defined each bracket.

I’ve created a graphic to help in visualizing the brackets (sorry that some of the lines/boxes are not quite lined up, this was my first time using this software).

Bracket

If you don’t agree with the bracket your guy/gal is in, complain to Charlie. I used his categories, with two exceptions – Bobby Jindal and Ben Carson. Cook said he didn’t know where to categorize them, and I can see why. I early on would have said Jindal belonged very much in the Conservative Gov group, but his recent speech in Iowa indicated (to me, at least) that he’s going more for the SoCon vote, so I put him there. Carson could easily go into either the Tea Party or SoCon brackets, but I somewhat arbitrarily put him into the SoCons – he evens out the numbers there, and I figure he’s not a factor anyway.

Cook seems to have included everybody who has made any noise at all about running (except George Pataki and, as noted below, Marco Rubio*), so there are a lot more people here than I hope we ever see on a debate stage, but I guess that will do no harm for this exercise – just ignore those you think will not run, or will not be a factor if they do.

Today’s assignment, class, is to choose the likely winner (please – not just your favorite!) for each bracket. Herewith mine:

Establishment: Carly Fiorina apparently did quite well in Iowa, but I can’t see her as more than (maybe) a VP possibility. Chris Christie I’ll eliminate on the basis of his unfavorables problem detailed a few posts below. I think Mitt Romney’s staleness and stiffness is less of a handicap than Jeb Bush’s name and contempt for conservatives. Marco Rubio (see footnote) could be the darkhorse winner here, if Bush doesn’t freeze him out of money and staff. Still, I’ll cautiously go with … Winner: Mitt Romney.

Conservative Governors: There might very well be a Midwest Regional already going on as a preliminary round in this bracket. If so, Scott Walker may have frozen out Rick Snyder (who I never thought was running anyway), John Kasich, and Mike Pence. The latter two could be making preparatory moves behind the scenes for all we know, but Walker looks to be way out front of them at this point. I think it comes down to Walker and too-much-baggage Rick Perry. Winner: Scott Walker.

Tea Party: This is the most heterodox bracket, which is perhaps fitting, since the Tea Party is a heterodox movement. I think Cook was fair in assembling this group and saying it is for people who are mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore. I’ll also note that in most tournaments there are tough and easy brackets, and this is the easy bracket in this one. Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, and Donald Trump are probably not going to run, and if they do, they’re going nowhere. Ted Cruz will shoot himself in the foot at some point. Winner: Rand Paul.

Social Conservatives: Rick Santorum is already showing his weakness with Mike Huckabee as an alternative. He may be forced to withdraw early, if not I expect him to be eliminated in Iowa. Ben Carson, as I wrote earlier, is unlikely to be a factor. Jindal v. Huckabee could be interesting – Jindal, I think has the ability to draw votes from other brackets, but Huckabee has his vaunted charm and deep, deep SoCon roots. A close call, but … Winner: Mike Huckabee.

 

* I didn’t notice Rubio’s omission until after I had created the brackets. So please visualize his name among the Establishment bracket, where I think he fits most easily.

Christie is in Serious Trouble

Harry Enten published the following chart on Five Thirty-eight blog:

enten-datalab-christiescatter

Note the close correlation between name recognition and net favorability? It is practically a straight line graph.

But notice how far below the line Chris Christie is. The article goes on to say (emphasis added):

Christie is 25 percentage points off the pace. … Given his high name recognition, you would expect him to have a net favorable rating of +45 percentage points.

Christie’s net favorable rating is more than two standard deviations below what we’d expect from a candidate like him.

Certainly the race has barely began, and you never know what might happen, but it is obvious that Governor Christie has a very long, steep hill to climb if he hopes to win the 2016 Republican nomination for President. Let’s hope for his sake that none of his big money backers read Five Thirty-eight blog.

January 24, 2015

Zogby Poll: GOP Presidential Race

A number of people have linked to this poll in the comments, so I thought I would go ahead and give it its own thread.

This is a Zogby poll, which is not exactly considered the gold standard of polls. To begin with, it is an on-line poll. That means it is not a random sample. The people participating signed themselves up to do so. Second, it attempts to take a snapshot of the entire nation using a sample of only 223 likely Republican primary voters — a very small number four or five times smaller than any reputable polling firm uses. As it is, they claim a MOE of 6.6% which means Rand Paul could be in first place for all we know.

Anyway, here it is:

  • Romney 16%
  • Bush 13%
  • Rubio 13%
  • Christie 11%
  • Huckabee 9%
  • Walker 6%
  • Jindahl (sic) 4%
  • Paul 3%
  • Perry 3%
  • Cruz 3%
  • Haley 0%
  • Portman 0%
  • Martinez 0%
  • Santorum 0%

As I said, it’s Zogby, so take it with a grain of salt. About the only thing that can be said is once again Romney’s in first place, Bush is in second, and Santorum is at or near dead last.

January 23, 2015

Hot Air Poll

The Conservative blog, HotAir recently polled its members on the nascent 2016 GOP presidential primary race. The results are as follows:

  • Scott Walker 25% (682 votes)
  • Ted Cruz 25% (671 votes)
  • Mitt Romney 20% (542 votes)
  • Ben Carson 8% (209 votes)
  • Rand Paul 5% (146 votes)
  • Rick Perry 5% (132 votes)
  • Bobby Jindal 3% (77 votes)
  • Marco Rubio 2% (52 votes)
  • John Kasich 1% (36 votes)
  • Jeb Bush 1% (35 votes)
  • Mike Pence 1% (28 votes)
  • Mike Huckabee 1% (25 votes)
  • Chris Christie 0% (11 votes)
  • Rick Santorum 0% (4 votes)
  • —-
  • Other 3% (85 votes)

Some observations:

  • These guys eat, drink, sleep, and breath politics so blaming “Name Recognition” for any of the results just doesn’t cut it.
  • Walker and Cruz came in far stronger here than anywhere else. The HotAir crowd really likes these guys.
  • Romney finishes in a very strong third place. He is only five ppts off the leaders. This is rather unexpected given the makeup of the HotAir readership.
  • No one else broke double digits.
  • Jeb Bush, who is supposed to be Romney’s main competition for the nomination, is way down the list barely registering a weak 1%.
  • Chris Christie, the other supposed big competitor in the Establishment wing is so far down in the mud that he registers a mere 0%.
  • Rick Santorum, as he often does in almost any poll, anywhere, shows up dead last. Nobody drags bottom like Rick.

 

Our Laws Should Come From God, Not Man, Says Huckabee

Raw Story reports:

During an appearance on the Christian Life Today program, Huckabee told televangelist James Robinson that he was considering a 2016 presidential bid because the country needed to become a “God-centered nation that understands that our laws do not come from man, they come from God.”

“It’s the natural law of God,” the former Arkansas governor said, adding that he was not calling for a theocracy.

The big problem with that is that somebody has to decide what God wants to put into law. And who gets to decide that? Are we going back to “the divine right of kings”?

*sigh* First Huckabee began a one-man crusade against Beyoncé and accused the Obamas of being poor parents. Now this.  That’s two gaffes in less than two weeks.

What is going on? Huckabee wasn’t nearly this bad in 2008. Now he seems to be putting his foot in his mouth an awful lot. What happened?

If this keeps up, perhaps he needs to reconsider his presidential ambitions. It’s not like he has nowhere else to go. I’m sure Fox would be more than happy to take him back if he asked.

 

by @ 10:11 am. Filed under Mike Huckabee

January 22, 2015

Poll Watch: NH1 New Hampshire Republican Presidential Primary

A new poll came out yesterday on the 2016 Republican presidential primary for New Hampshire. The polling firm is NH1 News. They polled 827 New Hampshire voters likely to vote in the 2016 GOP primary.  It was conducted Wednesday, January 21, 2015, by an automated dialing system with a MOE of 3.4%.

  • Mitt Romney 29%
  • Jeb Bush 11%
  • Scott Walker 8%
  • Chris Christie 8%
  • Rand Paul 7%
  • Ben Carson 7%
  • Mike Huckabee 5%
  • Ted Cruz 4%
  • Marco Rubio 3%
  • Someone Else 18%

Once more we see where Mitt Romney easily leads all the rest of the field. Of the rest of the field, Jeb Bush is the only one in double figures, and he’s barely there.

There is a huge logjam at 8-7%. The four candidates Walker, Christie, Paul, and Carson are all jumbled together practically on top of one other. Bush is only manages to separate himself from this group by a mere three ppts.

 

POWER RANKINGS: January *UPDATED*

1. Mitt Romney  former Governor of Massachusetts
Third time’s the charm? That old cliche will be alive and well among the throngs of donors, activists, staffers, and volunteers who have been asking Gov. Mitt Romney, the GOP’s 2012 standard bearer, to run again in 2016. After many denials, the former nominee has let it be known that he is seriously considering another bid. Romney’s name recognition, fundraising machine, political operation, and decade of recent campaign experience send him back to the top of the ladder. While Romney’s flaws are well known, and his 2012 failure is sure to be used against, he has cultivated much goodwill among GOP office holders and activists across the country. He is also primed for a major “I told you so” victory lap regarding many of President Obama’s second term failures. In the crowded 2016 lineup, a third Romney run is no more outlandish than a third Bush family campaign. As of now, it is the son of George Romney, not George Bush, in the best position to win.

2. Jeb Bush  former Governor of Florida
The scion of the Bush dynasty has all but declared his candidacy, launching a surprisingly early bid into the 2016 fray. Bush announced on Facebook that he would explore a bid for president, but the release of emails from his time as Governor of Florida and his resignation from many corporate boards signals he’s far past the exploratory phase and is already running. The early jump by Bush gives him both a head start on consolidating establishment support and puts pressure on his main establishment rivals, former nominee Mitt Romney and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, to get in sooner than he may have wanted. Still, family connections and money can only take Bush so far, and he will have to shake off the rust and prove himself a modern candidate if he is to prevail in 2016.

3. Rand Paul  U.S. Senator from Kentucky
The libertarian-leaning senator remains a top contender due to his his strong grassroots organization in Iowa and New Hampshire. Paul has successfully capitalized on his father’s prior campaigns to gain a foothold in the early states. Still, Paul’s unconventional positions, such as his isolationist foreign policy and his ideas for policing and social justice, put the senator out of step with the establishment he has tried hard to win over. Paul’s chances rest more on attracting a new coalition of younger, more diverse conservative voters than by winning over the GOP elite, who will have centrist heavyweights to rally around.

4. Scott Walker  Governor of Wisconsin
The governor of Wisconsin’s third election in four years in a state carried twice by President Obama and in the face of unprecedented liberal opposition has made him a party favorite. On paper, Walker could be a top contender and his battle-tested tenure has given him a huge donor base and the most diverse group of admirers in the field, from business leasers to grassroots activists. He could be positioned as the best compromise candidate, uniting both the Bush/Christie wing and the Cruz/Paul wing of the party.

5. Marco Rubio  U.S. Senator from Florida
Sen. Rubio was an early frontrunner for the 2016 nomination, but the combination of his troubles with immigration reform and the entry of Jeb Bush into the field have complicated the young senator’s path. Rubio’s team says they will not be pushed out of the race by Bush, but the competition for staff and donors in their shared Florida base will likely favor the former governor. Still, Rubio has proven in the past that he can cut an establishment favorite down to size and may be able to do it again. The son of Cuban immigrants is may be the most talented Republican communicator in the country, and should not be underestimated.

6. Chris Christie  Governor of New Jersey
With unexpected victories in the 2014 midterms tied to his tenure at the RGA, his own landslide reelection in a blue state, and the flop of the Democratic-led investigation into Bridgegate, Gov. Chris Christie is now ready to rally the national support and favors his accumulated these last several years. Once the unmistakeable establishment favorite, Christie’s 2014 hardships have opened the door for Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney, and if both establishment heavyweights enter the field, Christie’s path will narrow dramatically. With top contenders and Democrat investigators both smelling blood, Christie will need to show a new level of resolve to regain his footing.

7. Mike Huckabee  former Governor of Arkansas
Gov. Huckabee is once again considering a presidential bid, and once again his strengths and weaknesses are clear. The author and former Fox News host retains positive favorable numbers and a deep connection to the party’s evangelical Christian wing while struggling with the donor class. Despite strong name recognition, Huckabee hasn’t been able to build a viable fundraising network outside of the evangelical grassroots. He will need a serious national effort to win over the party establishment if he is to overcome his 2008 pitfalls.

8. Ted Cruz  U.S. Senator from Texas
The Tea Party firebrand will be the favorite of many hardcore activists and religious conservatives. But Cruz has burned a lot of bridges with the establishment, and will likely struggle to build a significant national operation with both his senate colleagues and the business wing of the party working against him. With both Jeb Bush and Rick Perry likely to run, Cruz may also struggle to rally support in his own backyard. The conservative darling will need to rely on a strong grassroots effort, his network of evangelical leaders, and his debating and media savvy to break through against the support aligning against him.

9. Bobby Jindal  Governor of Louisiana
Bobby Jindal has been one of the more active potential candidates, leaving little doubt that the term-limited governor will launch a 2016 bid. Jindal’s campaign will be centered around his record as a conservative reformer with real achievements in education and tax policy. He has worked hard to win over the evangelical and activist base of the party without burning bridges to the establishment. The Louisiana governor will have to over come doubts about his stage presence and slipping numbers in his home state if he is to climb into the top tier.

10. Mike Pence  Governor of Indiana
The conservative governor of Indiana is a rare find in GOP politics; he is someone both well liked by the establishment and grassroots. The former congressman has a strong fiscal conservative record to match his staunch but friendly social conservatism. Pence is a gifted communicator with a background as a talk radio show host prior to entering politics. Despite a solid resume of experience, he will likely be criticized for a lack of accomplishments as a governor with a strong GOP majority in the legislature. Still, if the establishment and grassroots are looking for a compromise candidate, Pence could be their man.

Honorable Mention: Ben Carson, John Kasich, Rick Perry, Carly Fiorina

No Chance: Lindsey Graham, Rick Santorum, Donald Trump

Dropped Out: Rob Portman, Paul Ryan

January 21, 2015

Huckabee Does Daily Show

Mike Huckabee went on “The Daily Show” to discuss his new book, “God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy”. He also remarked that he is “very likely” going to run for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.

Huckabee took the opportunity to double down on his criticism of watching Beyonce.

“Young girls want to be like her. Do you know any parent who has a daughter who says, ‘Honey, if you make really good grades, someday, when you’re 12 or 13, we’ll get you your own stripper pole.’ I mean, come on, Jon, we don’t do that in our culture.”

Jon replied that that was outrageous and played a clip of Huckabee playing bass with Ted Nugent.

by @ 6:05 pm. Filed under Mike Huckabee

January 20, 2015

Free To Run

This is the time of presidential trial balloons. With a new president certain to be elected in 2016, hopefuls and aspirants in both major parties are testing the waters, rounding up staff members, and appealing to major donors. It is an old ritual with contemporary procedures and techniques. It is big-time American politics on a grand scale.

The establishments of both parties have a tendency to try to control this process. In the case of the Democrats, they have a frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, who is way out in front, with no one yet in sight who can wrest the nomination from her. She leads in all polls, not only against potential Democratic rivals, but also against every Republican opponent. The Democratic establishment therefore would like to end this contest early, and prepare for the general election. When Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren began making competitive waves from Mrs. Clinton’s left, the liberal establishment got nervous, and started trying to warn Mrs. Warren off the contest. Their nervousness was increased by the fact that Mrs. Clinton’s initial campaign roll-out has been notably less than successful. There are several other Democratic wannabes, including Vice President Joe Biden, former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, former Virginia Senator James Webb and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Should Mrs. Clinton falter or pull out, other big names in the party could enter, including notably New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

On the Republican side, there is no true frontrunner, but there is an establishment favorite, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Another major candidate would be New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Also potentially serious candidates include Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Ohio Governor John Kasich, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. Less serious, there are a number of hopefuls who might take a crack at the nomination. (Abraham Lincoln was at the bottom of the list of nine GOP candidates as late as February, 1860, and look what happened only six months later when he won his nomination.)

Then there is Mitt Romney. In 2008, he was runner-up to John McCain in the GOP nominating contest, and in 2012, he was the Republican presidential nominee. He lost to Barack Obama that year by a relatively small margin, but as it turns out, most of what he said on the campaign turned out be right, or rather more right, than what Mr. Obama said. Nevertheless, the GOP establishment does not want Mitt Romney to run in 2016, and are saying so out loud.

It so happens I agree with those who say Mitt Romney is not likely to be the best Republican nominee in 2016, but I do disagree that he should be told not to run. I don’t agree with much that Elizabeth Warren has been saying, but I also don’t think she should be told not to run.

After all, it’s a free country, isn’t it?

Some folks in both parties fear open contests with many candidates. Republicans particularly point to the large field and numerous debates in 2012 as having hurt their ticket in November. I disagree with that strongly. There were perhaps too many debates (27), but the process, in my opinion, made Mr. Romney a better and stronger candidate. Newt Gingrich, for example, was by far the best debater in 2012; Mr. Romney held his own in the debates, but he had to face someone who was formidable early in the process. Romney did not lose because of the number of GOP rivals he had or the debates. He lost because of the successful (and unanswered) personal attacks on him made by the Democrats early and often, and because the Democrats had a much superior get-out-the-vote effort. (That the GOP did not have a better one, truth be told, was Mr. Romney’s responsibility.)

The nation and its political process is best served, as I see it, by open and competitive nomination contests. The number of candidates does not really matter because the process is designed to weed out those who cannot win very early.

So I say to Elizabeth Warren, Mitt Romney, and anyone else who thinks they should and can be president: Be free to run!

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

January 16, 2015

Poll Watch: The Economist/YouGov 2016 Presidential

Here’s an interesting poll. It is one of those polls where people volunteer to be polled. Zogby became infamous for them. So take the results with a grain of salt.

The numbers below are for registered Republican voters.

If you had to choose one, which of these individuals would you want to be the Republican nominee for president in 2016?

Mitt Romney 28
Jeb Bush 12
Ben Carson 10
Ted Cruz 9
Rand Paul 8
Mike Huckabee 8
Scott Walker 6
Chris Christie 3
Paul Ryan 3
Marco Rubio 2
Rick Perry 2
Lindsey Graham 0
Other 3
None 6

If the choice was between Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush, which one would you want to be the Republican nominee for president in 2016?

Mitt Romney 60
Jeb Bush 29
No Preference 11

Do you have a favorable or an unfavorable opinion of the following people?

Fav Unf D/K
Mitt Romney 82 12 6
Paul Ryan 75 14 11
Mike Huckabee 72 15 14
Rand Paul 70 15 15
Rick Perry 65 13 21
Marco Rubio 62 15 23
Jeb Bush 61 24 15
Ted Cruz 56 26 18
Ben Carson 54 10 36
Chris Christie 54 32 15
Scott Walker 49 16 34
Lindsey Graham 44 18 38

The full poll is found here.

January 13, 2015

Huckabee to Obama, Don’t let Your Daughters Listen To Beyoncé

Huckabee doesn’t much care for the music that Obama allows his daughters to listen to. The AP reports:

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has accused President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle of parenting by double-standard, in an interview published Tuesday, saying they shelter their daughters from some things but allow them to listen to the music of Beyoncé.

While promoting his new book, Huckabee told People magazine, “I don’t understand how on one hand they can be such doting parents and so careful about the intake of everything — how much broccoli they eat and where they go to school … and yet they don’t see anything that might not be suitable” in the lyrics and a Beyoncé choreography “best left for the privacy of her bedroom.”

This is the sort of mistake one would expect from a newbee campaigner, not one who was on the 2008 trail to the very end. Of course, he hasn’t been on the campaign trail since 2008. It’s obvious he’s a little rusty.

Well, he still has a few months to knock that rust off, but very many more of these mistakes will doom any hopes he might have for 2016.

by @ 3:53 pm. Filed under Mike Huckabee

Thomas Fitzgerald’s Analysis of Rick Santorum

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Rick Santorum won the Iowa Republican caucuses in 2012 with a sweater vest, a gray Dodge Ram 1500 pickup, and a prayer. … Now, poised to run again, Santorum finds himself facing a crowd of competitors for the loyalties of social conservatives — former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Baptist preacher who won Iowa in 2008, and others.

Santorum has been focusing on economic issues, saying that Republicans need to address income stagnation and inequality and the economic anxieties of the middle class.

He probably won’t have the working-class message to himself, as several elements in the GOP are pushing the party in a more populist direction. The Heritage Foundation think tank, for instance, is hosting a conference next week on conservative policy ideas that would address the concerns of middle-class and working-class Americans rather than corporations.

Even Bush, the son and brother of presidents, has gestured in this direction.

The clash of the social conservative candidates will be a primary within the primary, and some analysts believe that the Iowa caucuses, the first nominating contest next January, will be crucial. Social conservatives have outsize influence in Iowa because caucuses attract fewer participants than primaries.

“There’s room for a social conservative, but not three or four of these guys,” said Craig Robinson, former political director of the Iowa GOP and founder of a conservative news website.

For Santorum and Huckabee, the state will be especially tricky.

“Even if one of them wins in Iowa, it will be discounted a bit, because they won it before,” Robinson said. “And if they don’t win in Iowa, it’s game over.”

by @ 10:42 am. Filed under Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum

January 4, 2015

Breaking News: Huckabee to End Show on FOX News

Courtesy of CNN, this is big:

Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, is ending his weekend program on Fox News as he contemplates another run for president. Huckabee will formally announce his intentions on his program, “Huckabee,” on Saturday evening. Fox News reported the announcement after Huckabee taped his final program earlier in the day on Saturday. Huckabee “says he will make a decision in the spring of this year about whether to jump into the 2016 field,” Fox News anchor Eric Shawn said during the network’s 6 p.m. Newscast. Shawn also said that Saturday’s edition of “Huckabee” “will be the governor’s last.”

Back in 2012 when Governor Huckabee contemplated running for President, those in the know said that one of the main reasons the Arkansan stayed out of the race was financial. Simply put, Huckabee’s show and books made the Governor more money than he’s ever made in his life and he didn’t want to give that up. Now, after 3 extra years, Huckabee must feel more financially secure.

The polls have shown that Huckabee remains a force to be reckoned with, particularly in Iowa and probably South Carolina as well, two of the most important contests in the early primaries. Huckabee was a skilled debater, funny and likeable and he definitely spoke for a segment of the Republican Party. Huckabee’s shortcomings were twofold; first, he couldn’t raise enough money to compete in bigger states like Florida, and secondly, he couldn’t expand his voting base beyond Evangelical social conservatives. If he gets significant funding and can expand his voting base, Huckabee will be a very strong candidate. Even without those things, he proved in 2008 that he will be a formidable contender. If he runs of course.

by @ 1:51 pm. Filed under 2016, Mike Huckabee

January 2, 2015

POWER RANKINGS: January 2015

1. Jeb Bush  former Governor of Florida

The scion of the Bush dynasty has all but declared his candidacy, launching a surprisingly early bid into the 2016 fray. Bush announced on Facebook that he would explore a bid for president, but the release of emails from his time as Governor of Florida and his resignation from many corporate boards signals he’s far past the exploratory phase and is already running. The early jump by Bush gives him both a head start on consolidating establishment support and puts pressure on his main establishment rival, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, to get in sooner than he may have wanted. With Christie still on the sidelines and former nominee Mitt Romney likely only to enter the race if the establishment candidates falter, Bush has become the frontrunner, which is now reflected in the early polling.

2. Chris Christie  Governor of New Jersey
With unexpected victories in the 2014 midterms tied to his tenure at the RGA, his own landslide reelection in a blue state, and the flop of the Democratic-led investigation into Bridgegate, Gov. Chris Christie is now ready to rally the national support and favors his accumulated these last several years. Once the unmistakeable establishment favorite, Christie’s 2014 hardships have opened the door for Jeb Bush, and some party elites are shifting their support to the more familiar and less unpredictable former Florida governor. However, the tough-talking, battle-hardened New Jersey governor has the talent and the resources to regain his frontrunner status.

3. Rand Paul  U.S. Senator from Kentucky
The libertarian-leaning senator remains a top contender due to his his strong grassroots organization in Iowa and New Hampshire. Paul has successfully capitalized on his father’s prior campaigns to gain a foothold in the early states. Still, Paul’s unconventional positions, such as his isolationist foreign policy and his ideas for policing and social justice, put the senator out of step with the establishment he has tried hard to win over. Paul’s chances rest more on attracting a new coalition of younger, more diverse conservative voters than by winning over the GOP elite, who will have centrist heavyweights like Bush and Christie to rally around.

4. Scott Walker  Governor of Wisconsin
The governor of Wisconsin’s third election in four years in a state carried twice by President Obama and in the face of unprecedented liberal opposition has made him a party favorite. On paper, Walker could be a top contender and his battle-tested tenure has given him a huge donor base and the most diverse group of admirers in the field, from business leasers to grassroots activists. He could be positioned as the best compromise candidate, uniting both the Bush/Christie wing and the Cruz/Paul wing of the party.

5. Mike Huckabee  former Governor of Arkansas
Gov. Huckabee is once again considering a presidential bid, and once again his strengths and weaknesses are clear. The author and Fox News host retains positive favorable numbers and a deep connection to the party’s evangelical Christian wing while struggling with the donor class. Despite strong name recognition, Huckabee hasn’t been able to build a viable fundraising network outside of the evangelical grassroots. He will need a serious national effort to win over the party establishment if he is to overcome his 2008 pitfalls.

6. Ted Cruz  U.S. Senator from Texas
The Tea Party firebrand will be the favorite of many hardcore activists and religious conservatives. But Cruz has burned a lot of bridges with the establishment, and will likely struggle to build a significant national operation with both his senate colleagues and the business wing of the party working against him. With both Jeb Bush and Rick Perry likely to run, Cruz may also struggle to rally support in his own backyard. The conservative darling will need to rely on a strong grassroots effort, his network of evangelical leaders, and his debating and media savvy to break through against the support aligning against him.

7. Marco Rubio  U.S. Senator from Florida
Sen. Rubio was an early frontrunner for the 2016 nomination, but the combination of his troubles with immigration reform and the entry of Jeb Bush into the field have complicated the young senator’s path. Rubio’s team says they will not be pushed out of the race by Bush, but the competition for staff and donors in their shared Florida base will likely favor the former governor. Still, Rubio has proven in the past that he can cut an establishment favorite down to size and may have to do so again if he is to return to the top tier in 2016.

8. Bobby Jindal  Governor of Louisiana
Bobby Jindal has been one of the more active potential candidates, leaving little doubt that the term-limited governor will launch a 2016 bid. Jindal’s campaign will be centered around his record as a conservative reformer with real achievements in education and tax policy. He has worked hard to win over the evangelical and activist base of the party without burning bridges to the establishment. The Louisiana governor will have to over come doubts about his stage presence and slipping numbers in his home state if he is to climb into the top tier.

9. John Kasich  Governor of Ohio
Any politician who wins a swing state by 31% deserves some serious consideration for president. Kasich’s economic success in Ohio, his memorable career as a budget-balancing congressman, his private sector business experience, his communication skills and media savvy, and a tragic and moving personal story make the governor an interesting dark horse candidate with potential to move up.

10. Ben Carson  retired neurosurgeon from Maryland
Dr. Carson, the former director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, burst onto the national political scene with his now famous prayer breakfast rebuke of President Barack Obama. Since then he has become a conservative media darling and is an interesting wild card candidate in the early stages of the 2016 race. Still, a brilliant career in medicine doesn’t preclude the mistakes suffered by many novice politicians, and he will have to learn quickly to make up for his lack of experience.

Honorable Mention:  Paul Ryan, Mike Pence, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, Carly Fiorina

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