1. Jeb Bush former Governor of Florida
Gov. Bush returns as the default frontrunner, in part due to his historic fundraising strength, but more so due to the effects of the “Summer of Trump”. With the left-wing billionaire dominating media coverage of the race, lesser known candidates have been deprived of much needed air time. Bush, with his dynastic name, is somewhat immune to this effect, leaving him relatively unscathed in national polls. However, Trump does pose a bigger threat to Bush than other candidates running, mostly due to the unpredictable, anti-establishment history of the New Hampshire electorate. Unlike Scott Walker, Bush has been unable to maintain his early state lead, falling far behind Trump in the first primary state. The longer Bush stays behind a buffoon like Trump, the weaker he looks and the less likely a third Bush presidency becomes.
2. Scott Walker Governor of Wisconsin
Walker has finally entered the race and immediately added to his commanding lead in Iowa. Walker’s early state strength is more impressive when you consider other candidates have seen their numbers crumble in the wake of the Trump media frenzy. Walker’s aligned super PACs have over $20 million in the bank, more than enough to build on and sustain his Iowa lead. However, Walker has become the new favorite target of the left-wing billionaire, and he must be careful how far into the weeds he wants to go in responding to the erratic and unelectable Clinton donor.
3. Marco Rubio U.S. Senator from Florida
Sen. Rubio has seen some of his poll numbers fall as the Florida republican has receded from media attention, focusing more on fundraising and organization during the summer. His efforts have paid some off some, as his campaign raised the most money of any candidate, and his super PACs brought in the third most. Rubio has also avoided some of the more embarrassing elements of this summer’s campaign, namely getting dragged too deep in the muck by realty TV show character Donald Trump. Rubio has managed to retain his stunningly high favorability ratings, making him the most liked candidate in the field, something that bolsters his electability argument against the more unfavorable Jeb Bush and the rapidly declining Hillary Clinton.
4. John Kasich Governor of Ohio
Kasich’s late start hasn’t stopped him from making big inroads in New Hampshire, a state his campaign has focused heavily on. With a team that knows New Hampshire well, a local boost from the Sununu family, and solid PAC fundraising, Kasich may still become a top challenger to Bush on the establishment side. Now that it looks like he’ll make the debates, his momentum may continue to build. With the bursting of the Trump bubble looming, attention will turn to candidates who are not insane or a blight on party, and Kasich will be a top choice when that occurs.
5. Ted Cruz U.S. Senator from Texas
With the “bomb-throwing loudmouth” slot being filled by Trump, Cruz finds himself largely without his natural niche. He lame attacks on Sen. Mitch McConnell won’t win him back his status as Cruz is the only candidate in the field who hasn’t stood up to Trump’s more outlandish statements, leaving the Texas senator open to criticism for weakness and gutlessness. However, Cruz’s fundraising has put him in a position to capitalize on the collapse of other candidates in the far-right bracket of the primary process, making him the most likely of the fringe candidates to survive a longer campaign.
6. Chris Christie Governor of New Jersey
Christie’s comeback has been very slow, but a few polls released since his announcement have him doing slightly better than expected. His unfavorables still need major work, and his New Hampshire-or-bust campaign needs strengthening, but he’s done enough to make the debates, where his talents can be most effective.
7. Rand Paul U.S. Senator from Kentucky
Paul’s numbers continue to slide, a fact that was made more alarming but his horrible fundraising quarter, both by his campaign and aligned PACs. Paul’s “libertarian moment” seems to have passed him by. With so many candidates soaking up the media spotlight, Paul was supposed to have the money and an organization to give him an edge in the early states. It just hasn’t materialized.
8. Rick Perry former Governor of Texas
Gov. Perry has been the strongest voice for conservatism in the face of the media-created Trump bubble, taking the liberal billionaire to task for a number of his leftist positions and idiotic statements. Perry, one of only two veterans running for the nomination, has earned a true second look for his courage in the face of media hysteria.
9. Donald Trump Chairman and President of The Trump Organization
It is with great embarrassment and tremendous shame in my party that I have to include this buffoon in these rankings. Unfortunately, Trump’s numbers cannot be ignored. However, polls alone are not the decisive factor in primary elections, with money and organization at this early stage carrying greater weight. Trump has yet to put serious money into his campaign the way Ross Perot did, and his lack of a real ground game will show over time. The fact that the Koch brothers have cut him off to their database and research puts him in greater need of his own “yuuuge” financial resources.
10. Mike Huckabee former Governor of Arkansas
Gov. Huckabee followed his disturbing defense of Josh Duggar last month with an outlandish attack on the President this month, comparing him to the SS officers who committed mass genocide against the Jews during World War II. This pattern of nonsensical rhetoric was coupled with a disastrous fundraising quarter for the TV host-turned-also ran. On top of it all, Huckabee’s numbers in Iowa are tanking, leaving his chances of being the nominee on life support.
Honorable Mention: Carly Fiorina, Bobby Jindal, Ben Carson
No Chance: Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, Rick Santorum, Jim Gilmore
Yesterday, Mike Huckabee took the strongest stance yet against the Iranian nuclear deal. As Matt Coulter has already pointed out, Huckabee stated that “[President Obama] would take the Israelis and basically march them to the door of the oven.” Huckabee was of course referencing the loss of at least six million lives in the Jewish Holocaust.
The response from the MSM has been swift and very expected. They have seen an easy opportunity to do three things they love: defend the President, put down the GOP candidates, and further weaken the standing of the Jewish people in the Middle East.
As Matt points out, this will be and should be, brought up in the first debate next week. But where we differ on opinion is that Mike Huckabee will accept this with arms wide open. Why? For two reasons. The first is that Mike Huckabee cannot stray away from his firm-held convictions. We have seen this on gay marriage, on abortion, and now clearly on the potential destruction of Israel.
The second reason is that on one or a set of stages that may include somewhere between eight and sixteen candidates, you have to set yourself apart. Mike Huckabee will be seen as the guy who is all in against a nuclear Iran. The MSM does not quote the Iranians. Neither does Matt Coulter. Leave it to Mike Huckabee, and this writer, to bring you a little piece of truth you may all have failed to overlook:
– “We have manufactured missiles that allow us…to replace Israel…with a big holocaust.” – Ayatollah Khamenei’s Iranian Martyr Foundation representative
– “It is the mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to erase Israel from the map of the region.” – Ayatollah Khamenei
– “If they [Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.” – Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah leader
It blows my mind to think that the GOP, including a majority on this site, are not in favor of allowing Iran to get a nuclear weapon, and yet when a candidate speaks out, and uses Iranian leader’s own words again this deal, he is shunned.
The one area my friend Matt and I agree on, however, is that by stating “he”, being President Obama” instead of “this deal”, Huckabee truly does compare Obama to Hitler. I believe it would be wise to clarify on that portion of his statement, while continuing to double, triple, and quadruple down on the fact that this deal truly does prop the door wide open for another Jewish Holocaust.
I will end with words from the Governor:
By the way, it’s nothing that I haven’t said for the past 42 years, having been in and out of Israel and having been a strong believer that the reason that the Holocaust happened was because so many people naively believed Neville Chamberlain’s ridiculous statement that we’re going bring peace in our time, and we ended up seeing 11 million people murdered, 6 (million) of whom who were Jews who where marched to those very ovens that I’ve stood in front of.”
Most folks here on the interwebs are familiar with Godwin’s Law: as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of comparisons involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1. Apparently, Mike Huckabee would like to apply that law not only to the internet, but to Republican primary campaigns as well. On Sunday night, Huckabee uttered these now-famous words when discussing the deal with Iran:
This president’s foreign policy is the most feckless in American history. It is so naive that he would trust the Iranians. By doing so, he will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.
There’s no problem with the first two sentences in Governor Huckabee’s response. With the final sentence, however, Huckabee simply goes off the rails.
When the Iran deal was announced, I wrote here that it seemed like an awful deal and it could present some low hanging fruit for the GOP candidates looking to attack Obama — provided they could communicate their opposition effectively. Huckabee’s comments represent the exact opposite of that, with the Governor choosing perhaps the most ineffective communication possible. What should have been a slam dunk issue for the Republicans has now transformed into a controversy and yet another reason for independent voters to not listen to the GOP. Instead of talking about how awful the deal is, or how awful the Iranian regime is, Mike Huckabee has single-handedly made this a conversation about how awful Republicans are.
The second half of Godwin’s Law is less well known than the first, but equally applicable: as soon as you invoke Hitler or the Nazis, you lose the argument. And it is quite clear that Huckabee has lost the argument, as evidenced by the firestorm he created (and illustrated by the responses at the bottom of this post — apologies in advance for the language). Of course, Governor Huckabee doesn’t see it that way: after doubling- and tripling down on his comment, he said this about being attacked:
Huckabee dismissed the backlash around his comment as proof that “I am a much, much bigger deal than I think people thought I was.”
Wow. We can apparently add “delusional” and “prideful” to the list of epithets used to describe the Governor. Huckabee truly seems to be attempting to out-Trumpify Donald Trump on this one.
Huckabee will inevitably be asked about his comments during the first debate next week on national television, and when he is, a national audience will inextricably link opposition to the Iran deal with Mike Huckabee’s inflammatory rhetoric — essentially taking the issue off the table for any of our more reasonable candidates. The Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, could not have asked for a better outcome on this front. They are now able to dismiss critics of their foreign policy as crazies, on the same side as Mike Huckabee.
It doesn’t matter how salient of a point you think Huckabee had; he chose to communicate it in a mind-numbingly poor way. The metaphor failed on two important levels: first — and although I do not believe this was Huckabee’s intent, it is still true — it directly compared Obama to Hitler (“He [Obama] will march them to the door of the oven.”). Those kinds of comparisons tend to work extremely well in politics — just ask President Kerry, who defeated George W. Bush after the Democrats went around in 2004 calling him “Bushitler”. Even then, it’s impossible to imagine John Kerry making the comparison himself. A comparison like that is simply out of bounds for, and beneath, any serious presidential candidate. And secondly, the metaphor fails because it takes a very painful reality for millions of people and exploits it for political points. Even supporters of Mike Huckabee, such as Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera, recognize that the Governor really stepped in it this time:
Geraldo Rivera started his questioning [of Governor Huckabee] with “I love you”…
Now, not only is Huckabee suggesting that Obama is pushing Israelis and Jewish people at large toward a new Holocaust, but he is presenting himself as something of an eyewitness expert on what exactly that looks like: “When I talked about the oven door, I have stood at that oven door. I know exactly what it looks like.”
After that comment, Rivera pushed Huckabee to apologize for using the Holocaust in political rhetoric. “This was the systematic attempt by an industrialized nation to wipe out a race of people. That is different. That is unique. You may not go there, and I’m begging you to apologize and to retract that,” Rivera said.
Let me reiterate Rivera’s words, because they echo the sentiment of millions of Holocaust survivors and their families: “You may not go there. I’m begging you to apologize and retract that.”
But Huckabee’s response? “I will not apologize and I will not recant.”
Huckabee became known early on as the candidate who attacked President Obama’s parenting. Then he stood up for and defended a child molester. Now, he is digging in his heels on Holocaust/Hitler comparisons even though people who love him are begging him not to. Huckabee’s campaign has, thus far, been a textbook example of how not to run for President. The GOP is left hoping that independent voters are able to separate Huckabee from the more serious candidates when it comes time to enter the voting booth.
— A Wallach (@AdamWallach) July 28, 2015
Mike Huckabee, since you've brought up a painful subject for my ancestors, #Holocaust, which murdered 11 million ppl, you're on my shitlist.
— Quantum Mechanic (@JamesEFinch) July 26, 2015
.@GovMikeHuckabee my murdered ancestors aren't a goddamn meme-friendly talking point
— Adam Weinstein (@AdamWeinstein) July 27, 2015
— Andrew Reed (@reedrambles) July 26, 2015
This week the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the strong right to life law in North Dakota that would have banned abortions after a babies heart-beat was detected. Mike Huckabee has come out strong against this ruling stating that the ruling was “an unconstitutional, immoral act of judicial tyranny” and that “No amount of liberal legalistic logic can refute what science has already settled and God has ordained: life begins at conception.” Huckabee continued stating, “We need to end the disgusting disregard for human life that is the foundation for the infanticide that is beneath the dignity of our nation.”
Mike Huckabee is the one and only candidate that has called for an abortion ban once the heartbeat of the child can be detected. It spits in the face of those who laud Scott Walker as being the best social conservative in the 2016 field after he recently signed a 20-week abortion ban. It is a complete 180 degree difference than John Kasich, who actually fought against a similar bill in Ohio.
In this game called politics we continually ask, specifically of Mike Huckabee, why take such risks? Why make the comments he makes? Why push so hard when it is clear that society is not going in the same direction he would like it to go? Our own Race responders will point to poll after poll showing support for gay marriage and that social issues plays very little roll in who the majority of Americans will vote for. So why waste the time, the energy, and the validity among so many?
The answer is clear: Mike Huckabee is one of the few candidates who doesn’t waver, doesn’t change, doesn’t back down from the positions that he holds so true to. Look at the flip-flopping we saw with the 2012 candidates, Obama and Romney. Look to Donald Trump. Look to Rubio and Bush. Look at almost every candidate in this race and you will find an opinion or belief that they have “changed their mind” on over the last decade. Did they really change what they believe? Or was it the right political move?
Mike Huckabee has no “right political move” except to stand up for what he knows is right.
More information regarding the ruling and Huckabee’s response can be found at Lifesite News.
Lucas Karr has been part of the Race community for a number of years now, formerly known as both Huckafan and Huckarubio. He writes specifically on items focused on Mike Huckabee as well as social issues.
Lucas became strongly interested in politics, specifically the fight against abortion, after taking part in a number of missions trips with Youth With a Mission and teaming up with the Bound for Life group that has been at the Capitol building in Washington D.C. for over a decade. They are best known for their red “Life” tape across their mouths signifying the babies that will never have their voices heard.
Lucas has his MBA and enjoys the data behind politics. It also makes him susceptible to twisting said data from time to time, something he has become very good at after 17 years of fantasy football negotiations. He holds social values very high and also enjoys good conversation with his peers.
Last Sunday my family attended a new church about seven minutes from our house. We recently moved and have been searching for the right fit. Let me preface this by saying, this was not the right fit. But an illustration the pastor used has stuck with me this week; so it must be at least relevant enough to make note of.
I couldn’t even tell you the pastor’s name. It was, oddly enough, his final week at this small church. This story was the basis for his final sermon: a call to arms, if you will, for his sheep. He spoke of a young boy in England, in the mid 1850’s; he claimed it was Robert Lewis Stevenson, but could not confirm the validity of this claim.
The young lad was often ill and the local doctor had to be called on regularly to treat his symptoms and make sure it was nothing serious. One cold night the boy was in bed with flu-like symptoms and his mother put out a request for the doctor to come as soon as he could. The town doctor made his way over, through the cold, dark night, to check on the boy.
When the doctor and the boy’s parents arrived in his bedroom, the boy was standing at the window with it wide open and cold air pouring into the room. They quickly pulled him away and asked, “What are you doing?!” The boy replied that he was watching the men “punch holes in the darkness”.
You see, every night the lamp lighters would go through the town and would light the oil lamps that sat atop the lamp post. Each new light pierced through an otherwise completely dark street so much so that it looked like someone was “punching a hole” straight through the darkness and allowing the light on the other side of some dark curtain to enter the scene.
It did not take long for me to picture the “dark” society we currently live in; A society where race relations hasn’t been worse for at least a generation; A society where not only do we murder over one million innocent children every year, but apparently we also harvest and sell their body parts; A society that employs a “do what feels right” attitude in almost every area of their lives, including the sacred act of marriage. The America we live in is a dark place.
Enter the hole puncher.
There are very few candidates on other side of the aisle who are willing to stand up and punch holes in the darkness on social issue after social issue in the way that Mike Huckabee has done and continues to do.
On the issue of gay marriage Huckabee stated that “If the Republicans want to lose guys like me and a whole bunch of still God-fearing, Bible-believing people, go ahead and just abdicate on this issue — and go ahead and say abortion doesn’t matter, either. Because at that point, you lose me. I’m gone. I’ll become an independent. I’ll start finding people that have guts to stand. I’m tired of this.”
This statement was made before the SCOTUS decision and Huckabee continues to fight for marriage to be between one man and one woman, even stating that “Presidents have understood that the Supreme Court cannot make a law…the legislature has to make it, the executive branch has to sign it and enforce it. And the notion that the Supreme Court comes up with the ruling and that automatically subjects the two other branches to following it defies everything there is about the three equal branches of government.”
Mike Huckabee seems to be one of the few candidates who is not only stating his disagreement with the ruling, but flat out saying he would not implement changes as President in support of the ruling. Other candidates, at best, have said it should be an issue that the states decide. But not Huckabee. He continues to punch through the darkness that has taken over the Sodom and Gomorrahs of the world. He continues to support the true family unit in a way that no one else does.
On the ongoing issue of abortion and the most recent viral videos of Planned Abortionhood selling the body parts of babies, Huckabee has regularly stood where others often dare not go. If Mike Huckabee had his way, he would punch so many holes in the darkness of abortion that we would end it for good in this country.
Huckabee states that “It’s not enough to say we’ll end funding for these butchers at Planned Parenthood. We need to end the disgusting disregard for human life that is the foundation for the infanticide that is beneath the dignity of our nation. We didn’t end slavery by just limiting how many slaves a person could own or for how long—we recognized that it is a violation of basic human rights. Let’s stop this slaughter and ask God’s forgiveness for not doing it sooner.”
While governor, Huckabee signed a partial birth ban, established waiting periods, required parental notification, and many other laws in order to limit the number of abortions in his state. A Mike Huckabee presidency would regularly bring this issue to the forefront to be discussed, with scientific reasoning, in order to turn the tide of the hearts and minds of the American people.
Governor Huckabee also seeks to build a true bridge between white and black Americans. In 1998 Huckabee earned 48% of the black vote while running for governor. He regularly polls very well with those earning under $50,000, which in many cases equates to poorer communities often consisting of larger African-American populations. He hits the right note with the idea that people don’t need a hand out, they need a hand up; the idea that we should not be discussing a minimum wage, but a maximum wage; Huckabee focuses not on the actual color of someone’s skin, but on their situation. It just happens that he is addressing situations that many black Americans find themselves in.
And Mike Huckabee sees the link between the three of these. The decay of the family unit, specifically with single mother homes, as well as the highest abortion rates are seen within the black community. Huckabee sees the opportunity to tackle all of these issues at the same time.
Whether it is the darkness of the homosexual agenda, the darkness of abortion and its continual disregard for life or decency, the darkness of race relations, or the basic overreaching darkness of an America that has turned from its foundations in seeking after the One True God, Mike Huckabee will not stop punching holes to let in the light. I for one, am ready to help him keep punching.
On the eve of the Q2 campaign finance reports becoming public, we’ve learned that Governors Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal have flopped in their fundraising — but that their related Super PACs might be able to keep them in the race longer than would have been possible in the past.
Governor Huckabee raised just $2 million in the past quarter, a disappointing total that places him in the Fiorina/Perry league at the bottom of the group of 16. However, his Super PAC brought in an additional $6 million — another total that is disappointing when comparing it to other Super PAC totals, but enough to keep him alive. Likewise, Governor Jindal has raised just $579,000, a total which would have, in past campaigns, spelled his doom as a short-lived long-shot. However, his Super PAC hauled in an additional $8.7 million — again, not great as far as Super PACs go, but good enough to keep Jindal around.
The most important questions facing candidates like Perry, Huckabee, and Jindal, who are relying on Super PACs rather than traditional fundraising, are as follows: first, how a candidate can run a successful campaign when a vast majority of their funding sits with groups with which they cannot coordinate; and second, what happens when the billionaires propping up those Super PACs decide to cut off the gravy train. Gingrich and Santorum were kept on artificial life support in the 2012 campaign precisely because their backers saw a legitimate possibility of an upset against Mitt Romney. When one or more of these candidates can’t even make the stage for the debates, or shows no movement in early state polls, the support is likely to dry up and shift to other candidates.
Meanwhile, Rick Santorum raised just $607,000 last quarter. His Super PAC has not announced their total yet, but it is expected to be just as disappointing. To make matters worse, his campaign only has around $230,000 cash on hand and has already managed to amass $130,000 of debt. With high name recognition combined with a minuscule amount of support and funds, it’s difficult to see how Santorum even makes it through the summer at this point.
Today is exactly one month from the opening day festivities of this primary season: the Fox News debate in Cleveland, Ohio. One month from now, the top ten GOP candidates will share a stage and America will get to see them all, really, for the first time. The question everyone is pondering is this: which six candidates will be left out in the cold during that first rumble?
To really figure that out, though, we’ve got to dig one layer deeper: the methodology Fox is using to determine just who the top ten are. They’ve left their procedure quite vague — a move I assume is intentional, allowing themselves some leeway to massage the final makeup of the stage party — but here’s what we do know. First, candidates must file the official paperwork to be on the ballot in Ohio. Secondly:
“Candidates must place in the top 10 of an average of the five most recent national polls, as recognized by Fox News leading up to August 4th at 5 PM/ET. Such polling must be conducted by major, nationally recognized organizations that use standard methodological techniques.”
Essentially, FOX News will select the five most recent national polls which meet their vague criteria, counting backward from August 4, average them together, and assemble the top ten. Although the parameters of what five polls will be eligible seem wordy, they actually don’t say much.
The part about “standard methodological technique” would seem to disqualify YouGov polls, among others, since they are conducted entirely online. What is less evident is whether PPP, who does partially online polls (and up until recently did all robocalls) would qualify as “standard” under Fox’s definition. Given the recent push by the RNC to limit the influence of Democratic media on the GOP nomination process, let’s assume that Fox will be using their discretion to discard PPP’s national poll as well. Finally, the one-off polls done regularly by various universities around the country would seem to violate the “major, nationally recognized” portion of the regulations, so we can likely discard them as well.
So who will make the cut? Well, since this is a FOX News debate, you can be sure that they will time the release of their own national poll to be one of the five. Both Fox and CNN have been consistent this year in releasing national polls at the very beginning of every month; therefore, since CNN will likely match the timing of the Fox poll, we can assume they will be the second poll of the five.
Those two are almost certain. The third and fourth are probable: NBC/WSJ and Quinnipiac. NBC/WSJ has consistently released their national poll towards the last week of each month. Their July poll will likely come out about one to two weeks prior to the debate, and given the slow pace of other national polling, that poll has a pretty good shot at being one of the five. Likewise, Quinnipiac has been timing about 5-7 weeks in between their national poll releases; if they were to release on the shorter end of that spectrum for their next poll, they could get it in prior to the August 4 deadline as well.
The fifth and final poll is a bigger question mark. There will likely be three pollsters vying for that final slot: ABC/WaPo, Monmouth, and McClatchy/Marist. An end-of-June or beginning-of-July poll would be off cycle for each of those three, but the chance to influence the debate stage could be impetus to do a survey off-cycle.
For now, let’s assume four out of the five polls are what we outline above: FOX News, CNN, NBC/WSJ, and Quinnipiac. Heading over to Pollster.com, we can create our own poll average with only those four polls in it — and when we do, this is how it ends up:
Obviously, just using these four polls sheds a slightly different hue on the race than a full polling average, which is why it’s important to consider just which polls Fox will be using. And when we go to add our fifth and final pollster, it makes a big difference for some of these candidates. For instance, adding Monmouth as the fifth launches Santorum into the top ten… and knocks Chris Christie off the stage. Adding ABC/WaPo instead of Monmouth gives the two a tie for tenth place. Putting in McClatchy/Marist gives Christie a comfortable lead over Santorum and lands Fiorina into the realm of “missed it by that much.”
Regardless, there are some things that remain the same and are pretty easy to spot, given the current standings as well as the trendlines. We essentially have seven shoe-ins: Bush, Trump, Carson, Paul, Walker, Rubio, and Huckabee. Perry has low numbers but is trending in the right direction and will likely make the cut as the eighth.
Likewise, unless Jindal gets a miraculous announcement bump, he’ll likely miss the stage. Finally, we have two who aren’t going to make the stage unless hell freezes over: Pataki and Graham.
That gives us 8 on and 3 off, leaving five candidates battling for the final two spots on that stage: Ted Cruz (how far his campaign has fallen!), Chris Christie, Rick Santorum, Carly Fiorina, and John Kasich. Those will be the five candidates to watch as the next round of polls are released. Missing that cutoff could be an early death knell to a campaign this year, while making it onto that stage might just be the needed boost to keep a candidate alive.
As we explored here on Race back in November, successful candidates for President generally view the primary calendar as unfolding in three phases:
There’s an old axiom in politics that voters don’t really start paying attention until Labor Day. Understanding that, then, we can roughly divide the primary calendar into three sections: pre-Memorial Day, Memorial Day to Labor Day, and post-Labor Day:
- Pre-Memorial Day: Use this time to build your campaign team. Put the framework in place, fill it with talent, grease up the machine, and get ready to push the start button. This first phase is when you plant field offices, meet with early backers and surrogates, and most importantly, hire talent. At this early stage, the most important thing to do is build a lasting framework that will carry you through the next year and a half — and which will not require your attention during the crazier, busier seasons to come.
- Memorial Day to Labor Day: Normal people don’t pay attention to politics during the summer months, so once you have a campaign framework in place take this time to do as many fundraisers as humanly possible. This is your chance to build a warchest with which to dispatch your opponents once the race begins in earnest. Lay low, don’t oversaturate, and fund that campaign.
- Post-Labor Day: Campaign, campaign, campaign. This is when people start paying attention, so this is when you start introducing yourself to them. Media blitzes, interviews, ad buys, and public campaign stops in early primary and caucus states all start now and do not end until you bow out of or win the race.
These three phases might seem pretty obvious, but they’re not for many candidates. Without a long-term plan like this is place, many candidates will attempt to do all three things (campaign structure, fundraising, and campaigning) all at the same time, ending up doing none of the well. Additionally, many candidates will waste time holding public events and campaigning during the summer months, then enter the post-Labor Day race woefully low on funds (meaning they cannot campaign as much during the most important portion of the race because they will be fundraising) or having peaked too early with no way to continue momentum (see Romney, 2008).
Of course, none of these are hard and fast phases. They bleed together — every candidate will do some fundraisers during each stage, for instance, to keep the coffers from going empty. And media outlets will have dollar signs and ratings charts in their eyes, scheduling primary debates whenever they can throughout the calendar. But as a good general rule of thumb, sketching out a campaign according to that calendar is what leads to a successful nomination attempt.
Since we are in the middle of the second phase right now, it’s a good time to check in and see how our candidates are doing in following this framework. Obviously, with the primary campaign getting started late (by modern standards), phases one and two are blending together for many candidates. But the general principle is the same: do all the behind-the-scenes work before Labor Day, don’t oversaturate during the spring and summer, and then pull back the bow and launch strong in September. Generally speaking, this allows a candidate to peak at the right time and also allows him or her to build a sustainable campaign organization that will withstand the intense fall and winter months.
It also, as we will see front and center in the next week or so, allows them to report strong fundraising numbers when the FEC reports are due (they have to be submitted by July 15, but most candidates will announce their totals before that).
So right now, in other words, candidates should be cramming as many fundraisers into their schedules as possible, meeting with bundlers and donors and financiers, and building their infrastructure behind the scenes. None of that garners headlines or wins news cycles — but that’s the point: it’s not supposed to. Not yet.
It’s also the reason the polls at this stage don’t matter. Oh, sure, everybody says that about the polls early on in campaigns (especially the candidates who are trailing in them), but this year it’s even more true than usual. By this time in 2008 there had already been three debates and millions of dollars of advertising dollars spent. By this time in 2012, we had already seen two debates and a lot of political ads. This year? Zero debates and barely any ads (zero primetime television ads that I’m aware of). There has been no chance on a national stage for these candidates to introduce themselves yet, and no large events to shift the numbers one way or the other outside of individual campaign announcements.
Not all candidates are keeping their heads down and focusing on behind-the-scenes work, though. Many are out campaigning — and some are campaigning way more than others, breaking one of the cardinal rules of the calendar. Of course, some of these candidates with low name recognition (Fiorina, Cruz, Carson, et al) have to campaign in order to get people to start paying attention to them, which is the curse of the lesser known candidate. The calendar is never in their favor. But even some of the more well known candidates are wasting time right now on the campaign trail rather than doing the long, slow work of building the foundation for a successful campaign later on.
As one data point, let’s consider the state of Iowa. Courtesy of the Des Moines Register, here are the number of events each candidate has held in the Hawkeye State since March (with the number of events broken down by month afterward into Mar/Apr/May/Jun/Jul):
As you can see, Huckabee and Santorum have basically been living in Iowa, to the exclusion of ensuring their campaigns will remain viable long term. This communicates their obvious strategy: it’s Iowa or bust for these two with no plan beyond that. Given that they pull 5% and 4% support, respectively, in the latest Iowa poll despite pressing flesh for five months now would seem to indicate that they are headed straight for the bust column. Perry and Carson are in similar spots, with Perry saturating the state in May and Carson camping out there in June. Perry still only gets 4% in Iowa polls, where it looks like Carson’s campaigning is at least paying off with a small boost in support.
I’m more interested in the bottom of the list, however — the candidates who have basically ignored the state. Pataki’s numbers are to be expected, since he’s not going to compete in Iowa anyway, and Kasich and Christie are just now getting into the race. (They both held a number of events in Iowa in June.) But what of the other candidates? Specifically, the Big Three: Bush, Rubio, and Walker. All three have essentially ignored the state, especially in May and June. And all three are showing themselves to be more disciplined candidates than the rest of the field, taking time to do the fundraisers, hirings, and foundational work rather than hitting the campaign trail early. This is obviously tremendous news for Governor Walker; even while basically ignoring the state, he has a solid lead in Iowa. This also offers a glimpse into the Rubio campaign strategy – he’s saving the headlines and campaign appearances for later and focusing on other things right now. If he is indeed being informally advised by Romney and his team, this strategy makes complete sense: it’s the same one Romney used en route to victory in 2012. Bush is, of course, the big question mark: will he invest in Iowa at all during the later stages of the campaign? Or will he write off the state with token appearances and instead focus on New Hampshire?
So, I said all of that to say: it’s early. Disciplined, winning campaigns are doing what disciplined, winning campaigns do. Meanwhile, desperate second- and third-tier campaigns are doing what they do. It won’t be long until the wheat is separated from the chaff, so to speak, and the long-term planning pays off over the short-term quest for headlines.
Nobody really pays attention until Labor Day anyway.
A week ago we introduced you to PredictWise, the Microsoft Research project that uses futures markets to attempt to predict (among other things) political outcomes. It seems like a good way to start each week by checking in on the PredictWise numbers as a way to gauge the state of the race. So, here’s your first Monday Market update:
The big movement this week was in the consolidation of the Big Three — Bush, Rubio, and Walker. Each of them gained, to the detriment of the other 13 candidates, and currently comprise a whopping 81% of the odds (up from 72% last week). Paul is the biggest loser, but in all actuality the investors currently see the race as the big three and then just everybody else.
Also, don’t miss the updated Candidacy Tracker at the top of the page, now with the final three announcement dates added in.
With the SCOTUS decision given down that Obamacare subsidies are still protected, here’s some of the responses from the Presidential contenders: