February 26, 2015

Walker, Education, and Image

People don’t vote for candidates, they vote for an image.

That’s a general axiom Democrats seem to understand much better than Republicans at this stage of the game. Politics has always been about trying to market yourself — we can go all the way back to Abraham Lincoln’s campaign team famously choosing “Honest Abe” to market their candidate, for instance — and likewise, marketing your opponent as someone Jack and Jill Voter couldn’t pull the lever for. But in today’s intensely media-saturated, image-and-symbol driven culture, it matters more than ever before.

As I wrote about seven years ago (!) here at Race, President Barack Obama is a modern shining example of this fact. Nobody cared what his positions were on the issues. For most American voters, Obama was simply and powerfully an image of hope and progress. They never factored in his actual stances on issues, they were not voting for an agenda or a political viewpoint or a party… they were voting for an image. A caricature of sorts. A carefully crafted, marketed image.

And it worked.

In 2012, Mitt Romney was the victim of the converse of this rule. President Obama and his team managed to paint Governor Romney (sometimes with the Governor’s unintended assistance) as a wealthy, out-of-touch woman-hater. Even though the facts stood contrary to that image (see Women, Binder Full of), that is how voters saw and believed the image of Governor Romney. The election did not come down to Obama and Romney, it came down to hope and inspiration versus the rich guy who doesn’t care.

This issue of image is immediately what came to mind when the brouhaha over Governor Scott Walker’s education was suddenly thrust into the top headlines this past week. Governor Walker, for those who may be arriving late to the scene of the crash, left college before he finished his senior year. He has no college degree to his name. For some in the media, this calls into question his fitness to serve as President of the United States.

Allow me to pause for a moment and be as clear as possible here: I do not believe a college degree is, or should be, a requirement to serve as President of the United States. The Constitution never places any kind of qualifying educational standard on potential candidates. Governor Walker’s accomplishments stand on their own, with or without a college degree, and to somehow denigrate them now, after the fact, because he didn’t finish his senior year is beyond the pale.

Those are the facts. However… again, we must take into account the issue of identity. By itself, a lack of college degree would be meaningless. At the same time the media began questioning that, however, they also realized something else about Scott Walker: he doesn’t believe in evolution. Now again: on this specific issue, I give a hearty, “Who cares?”. I excoriated the debate moderators way back in 2007 for asking the GOP candidates if they believed in evolution or creationism, and I would excoriate them again today. Factually speaking, it has no bearing on how well someone will govern this country. But now we have two pieces of information on which opponents will begin crafting Scott Walker’s image: he never finished college, and he doesn’t believe in evolution.

Now, add a third item of interest: Wisconsin is currently experiencing some pretty sizeable bumps fiscally speaking (which will undoubtedly and messily complicate Governor Walker’s campaign-to-be). In order to close a large budget deficit, Walker has proposed cutting hundreds of millions of dollars from… Wisconsin state university budgets.

So now we can easily imagine the line of attack on Governor Walker: a college dropout who doesn’t believe in evolution and wants to cut the budgets of higher learning institutions across his home state. Not exactly a pretty picture. Not a winning image. The cherry on top, of course, is that Governor Walker is a Republican, a party many Americans already see as being anti-science and anti-education (see AP History in Oklahoma, for instance). He plays into the stereotypes with little to no effort required from his opponents.

Of course, Governor Walker isn’t the only Republican governor talking about cutting higher education funding, which just exacerbates the problem. Governors Jindal and Christie have proposed cutting university funding in Louisiana and New Jersey as ways to fill their respective state budget shortfalls as well. When you are a potential candidate exploring a presidential primary full of voters who believe the words of Grover Norquist as gospel truth, common sense financial solutions can take a back seat to becoming a perceived enemy to higher education. This is especially true and dangerous for Governor Walker, given the overall image starting to be painted of him. Every stumble and misspoken phrase along the campaign trail, which might be forgiven from other candidates, will be treated as headline news from the Wisconsin governor.

None of this is a reason for Republicans to avoid nominating Walker. He may well end up being the best candidate in the field. But if they do, the GOP must understand the hand they’ve been dealt and respond accordingly — and the past week hasn’t been an encouraging response on that front. Republicans can circle the wagons and rally ‘round the flag as much as they want on this one, screaming about a biased and elitist media until their face turns blue. But that will do little to nothing to actually solving the image problem Walker is about to be branded with. Walker must work overtime to paint an alternative image — a more positive picture of who he is that can shatter some of these early stereotypes and display him as an intelligent, competent leader. There is a massive difference between being viewed as a blue collar, folksy midwesterner (on the balance, a very positive image) and being lumped in with the Sarah Palins and Rick Perrys of the world. It will be interesting to watch if and how Walker and his team steer this ship toward the former.

by @ 4:00 am. Filed under 2016, Barack Obama, Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie, Mitt Romney, Scott Walker

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 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

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

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?

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

January 30, 2015

Can Scott Walker Be 2016’s Un-Romney?

“Someone literally sent me a threat that said they were going to gut my wife like a deer.”

Intricate, personal accounts of threats lobbed at him and his family during the recall battle are now a cornerstone of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s stump speech.

On Thursday evening, Governor Walker reiterated this theme at a small, invitation-only reception in the Lakewood, NJ home of former pharmaceutical executive Dr. Richard H. Roberts, a mega GOP donor and supporter of Governor Walker.

The predominantly Orthodox Jewish audience is far removed from the hunting culture. However, the “gut my wife like a deer” line elicited the same audible gasps as it did during the likely presidential candidate’s speech at the Freedom Summit in Iowa this past Saturday.

Scott Walker, victim?

The themes expressed in a likely presidential candidate’s stump speech aren’t there by accident. The abuse Mr. Walker endured at the hands of the left does more than just placate conservatives who relish a real fighter for their favored causes. It goes to the heart of the governor’s political success to date, which defies all conventional odds.

Little could frustrate the left more than the fact that a less-than-charismatic white male conservative governor gets to strongly curtail union power in a blue state and wins elections comfortably – three times in four years. They lobbed everything they’ve got – money, volunteers, protestors, big-name politicians – at Walker, but nothing made a dent.

Riding a wave of positive reviews of his de facto debut in the presidential race, the governor was clearly on a high in Lakewood. Appearing in a black velvet yarmulke – “It covers my bald spot well” – Mr. Walker was all smiles, handshakes and backslaps. He acknowledged with a wink and thumbs-up when individual audience members snapped pictures with their smartphones. He did all this while consistently pointing to the left’s persecution of him. “This last go around, I was the number one target in America,” he stated.

Glancing at Scott Walker’s improbable rise to a top tier presidential candidate, you see that his political sustenance is, in large part, is liberal overkill. Were it not for the historic 2012 recall race the left subjected him to, Scott Walker would be just one amongst a selection of competent but uninspiring white male Republican governors in blue and purple states. Not much different than, say, Rick Snyder of Michigan, or the man many wrongly attempt pegging Walker to: former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.

None of them will be president in 2017. Yet, now Walker is well positioned as a potential rare hero common hero for both establishment GOPers and firebrands like Rush Limbaugh.

An enemy’s enemy is a friend. An enemy’s top enemy is a best friend.

“I think that’s insulting.”

The left’s overkill has not only endeared Mr. Walker to all factions of the right, but also to the Wisconsin independents and, in Walker’s words, “discerning Democrats” who helped him win his three tough races.

Liberals don’t bat an eyelash when making the most outlandish accusations against Republicans, such as accusing Mitt Romney of causing a woman to die from cancer or predicting that Colorado Senator Cory Gardner would ban condoms.

Like clockwork, they tried this shtick on Scott Walker. In September, DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Walker has given women “the back of his hand” and is “grabbing us by the hair.” Yet it backfired big time. Both the campaign of Walker’s opponent Mary Burke and, later, Wasserman Schultz herself, distanced themselves from the remark.

Unlike with most politicians, especially conservative Republicans, you just cannot throw the bunker busting bombs at Scott Walker. It doesn’t work.

At the Lakewood reception, I asked Governor Walker about the lessons he learned while running against a female Democrat in 2014, and how that would translate to the inevitable gender-card-playing should he face Hillary Clinton next November. “I think that’s insulting,” he responded. “I talk to female voters all the time. The women I talk to are not unlike most men; they care about the economy; they care about their neighbor who has been out of work for six months; they care about schools.”

Walker bets on regular guy image

The governor’s retort to Democrats’ “War on Women” is not original, but he is one of its most effective messengers.

While his major 2016 GOP rivals may have more colorful personalities, and/or more intriguing biographies, Mr. Walker is betting that his regular-guy image will win the day. He takes pains to mention his working class childhood, bargain hunting at Kohl’s, and his wife’s part-time jobs. When discussing the need for a strong and consistent foreign policy, he uses as an example the pact he had with wife all the years that they would never contradict each other when one punished one of their sons.

Governor Walker’s persona and demeanor are indeed not dynamic, but he therefore also comes across as too normal and nice to be caricatured as a bogeyman. The glove doesn’t fit. “I don’t take the bait … in the end it didn’t become the kind of wedge issue you’d expect,” he explained to me regarding Democrats’ efforts to paint him as anti-woman.

The upcoming year-plus primary season will be fascinating to watch, but it is distinctly possible that Scott Walker has the perfect balance necessary for a Republican to win the White House these days: strong enough to land a knockout punch, but too agreeable for moderate voters to want to see him punched back.

Just hours before Mitt Romney announced that he would not be making another presidential run, Scott Walker was eager to contrast himself with the previous GOP nominee, who he said lost because he couldn’t connect with everyday American working class voter. “Even when I’m on Fox News and talk radio,” he said, “I talk like I’m talking to a guy sitting on his couch — he works in a factory in my state; his wife works as a nurse in the local hospital; they have two kids going to public school; they’re working hard to make ends meet – in a language that makes sense to them.”

I asked the governor how the GOP can run on the economy in 2016 if leading indicators continue their current positive trajectory. He replied that the party would need to focus on the Americans, particularly those in rural areas, whose economic conditions lag the rest of the nation’s.

While at a closed fundraiser in the home of a super wealthy donor, Scott Walker sounded the polar opposite of what Mitt Romney did in a similar setting two and a half years ago when he made his infamous “47 percent” comments.

Time will tell whether his national ambitions will end up differently too.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Simon Blum is a freelance writer and journalist specializing in political analysis and communication. You can follow Simon on Twitter @sbpundit. This article was first published at The Daily Caller.

by @ 5:47 pm. Filed under 2016, Mitt Romney, Opinion, Republican Party, Scott Walker

Thoughts on Romney’s Announcement

I have had my eye on Mitt Romney since the time he ran against Ted Kennedy. I’ve watched every step of his career. I became a supporter when he stepped in and rescued the Salt Lake Olympics. That was an awesome demonstration of incredible administration skills and talent. I longed for a man like that to be President of the United States. I still do. I simply do not see anyone in either party who has the same administration abilities as Willard Mitt Romney.

But lets face facts. Before one can be President, one must be elected President. While I am fairly confident that Mitt could win the nomination once again, I am far less sanguine that he could win the general election. He just hasn’t been all that good at the retail politics necessary to win the Oval Office.

I liked the manner in which he bowed out. He has repeatedly stated over the past two years that he wasn’t planning to run, yet countless numbers of people pointed to the poll numbers and urged him to reconsider. He finally agreed to take another look. He spent several weeks seriously examining the data and likely the feelings of his family. In the end, he decided against it, and he said so. He didn’t keep dragging the suspense out trying to suck up as much media attention as possible as countless others have done. He told people he was seriously looking, he seriously looked, and then announced he was not running.

His statement announcing his decision to not run was truly classy. There was no bitterness, no recriminations, no lashing out at anyone. Just a plain statement of his feelings and reasons for not running.

As for those of you trying desperately to read between the lines looking for hidden meanings and nuances, may I offer this free advice? Chill out, you’re trying too hard. If Romney truly has a preference as to whom he would like to see win the nomination, AND he wants share it with us, he’ll tell us. There is no need to slice, dice, dissect, and weigh every word and turn of phrase in the speech looking for secret messages. He’s not running.  Accept it for what it is and move on.

 

by @ 1:11 pm. Filed under Mitt Romney

Romney is Out

From his phone call:

Let me begin by letting you know who else is on this call, besides Ann and me. There are a large number of people who signed on to be leaders of our 2016 finance effort. In addition, state political leadership from several of the early primary states are on the line. And here in New York City, and on the phone, are people who have been helping me think through how to build a new team, as well as supporters from the past who have all been kind enough to volunteer their time during this deliberation stage. Welcome, and thank you. Your loyalty and friendship, and your desire to see the country with new, competent and conservative leadership warms my heart.

After putting considerable thought into making another run for president, I’ve decided it is best to give other leaders in the Party the opportunity to become our next nominee.

Let me give you some of my thinking. First, I am convinced that with the help of the people on this call, we could win the nomination. Our finance calls made it clear that we would have enough funding to be more than competitive. With few exceptions, our field political leadership is ready and enthusiastic about a new race. And the reaction of Republican voters across the country was both surprising and heartening. I know that early poll numbers move up and down a great deal during a campaign, but we would have no doubt started in a strong position. One poll out just today shows me gaining support and leading the next closest contender by nearly two to one. I also am leading in all of the four early states. So I am convinced that we could win the nomination, but fully realize it would have been difficult test and a hard fight.

I also believe with the message of making the world safer, providing opportunity to every American regardless of the neighborhood they live in, and working to break the grip of poverty, I would have the best chance of beating the eventual Democrat nominee, but that is before the other contenders have had the opportunity to take their message to the voters.

I believe that one of our next generation of Republican leaders, one who may not be as well known as I am today, one who has not yet taken their message across the country, one who is just getting started, may well emerge as being better able to defeat the Democrat nominee. In fact, I expect and hope that to be the case.

I feel that it is critical that America elect a conservative leader to become our next president. You know that I have wanted to be that president. But I do not want to make it more difficult for someone else to emerge who may have a better chance of becoming that president. You can’t imagine how hard it is for Ann and me to step aside, especially knowing of your support and the support of so many people across the country. But we believe it is for the best of the Party and the nation.

I’ve been asked, and will certainly be asked again if there are any circumstances whatsoever that might develop that could change my mind. That seems unlikely. Accordingly, I’m not organizing a PAC or taking donations; I’m not hiring a campaign team.

I encourage all of you on this call to stay engaged in the critical process of selecting a Republican nominee for President. Please feel free to sign up on a campaign for a person who you believe may become our best nominee.

I believe a Republican winning back the White House is essential for our country, and I will do whatever I can to make that happen.

To all my supporters, friends and family who worked both tirelessly and loyally to support my campaigns in the past, I will always be deeply appreciative. What you have already done is a tribute to your patriotism. We are overwhelmed and humbled by your loyalty to us, by your generosity of spirit, and by your friendship. God bless you all.

by @ 10:18 am. Filed under Mitt Romney

For Mitt, Today May Be The Day

News is breaking that dozens of supporters have received email messages inviting them to a conference call hosted by Mitt Romney himself on the status of the 2016 race this morning. Speculation is strong that he will announce one way or the other.

by @ 7:30 am. Filed under Mitt Romney

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)

 

Jeb Wins One Over Romney In Iowa

Romney’s former Iowa Strategist has just announced that he is backing Jeb Bush this time around. The Des Moines Register reports:

Jeb Bush has successfully recruited a key political strategist into his inner circle: Iowa’s David Kochel, who has been a close adviser to Mitt Romney since Romney’s earliest days on the presidential campaign trail.

After three months of soul-searching and election forecasting, Kochel decided this week to join Team Bush, he told The Des Moines Register today in an exclusive interview.

Kochel, 50, of Des Moines, will be a senior adviser to Bush’s new political action committee, Right to Rise. If Bush pulls the trigger and runs for president of the United States, Kochel would be tapped to lead his national campaign, Bush’s advisers told the Register.

This promises to be a very entertaining primary season.

by @ 5:03 pm. Filed under Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney

Mitt Speaks At MSU

Mitt Romney spoke to the students of Mississippi State University. As a sign to how seriously he is being considered a major player, it was covered by a multitude of media outlets, from Fox, to the New York Times, to the Boston Herald, and Globe to name just a few.

What did he talk about? Hillary and Obama, for one. Fox reports:

Mitt Romney used a speech at Mississippi State University on Wednesday to strike at Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy and economic credentials in what could be seen as a sneak preview of the 2016 presidential race.

Romney, making his third public appearance since it was revealed he is considering a third run for the White House, addressed students at the university and took pre-selected questions, cracking jokes about himself and making 2016 references. He criticized President Obama’s foreign policy, as well as his handling of the economy.

“Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cluelessly pressed a reset button for Russia, which smiled and then invaded Ukraine, a sovereign nation,” Romney says. “We need to help make the world a safer place.”

He blasted Obama for not doing enough to prevent Iran from expanding its nuclear capabilities, and endorsed House Speaker John Boehner’s controversial invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress.

(more…)

by @ 4:19 pm. Filed under Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney

January 28, 2015

Poll Watch: Townhall/Gravis Marketing (R) South Carolina 2016 Republican Primary Survey

  • Mitt Romney 20%
  • Jeb Bush 16%
  • Scott Walker 9%
  • Mike Huckabee 8%
  • Ted Cruz 8%
  • Marco Rubio 7% 
  • Rand Paul 7% 
  • Chris Christie 5%
  • Rick Santorum 4%
  • Rick Perry 4%
  • Undecided 12%

If Mitt Romney does not run:

  • Jeb Bush 18% [22%] (16.0%)
  • Mike Huckabee 11% [19%] (15.8%)
  • Scott Walker 11% [5%] (2.3%)
  • Ted Cruz 9% [8%] (11.1%)
  • Marco Rubio 9% [6%] (7.2%) 
  • Chris Christie 8% [12%] (16.6%)
  • Rand Paul 8% [8%] (9.7%)
  • Rick Perry 5%
  • Rick Santorum 4% [2%] (2.8%)
  • Undecided 17% [19%] (18.5%)

Survey of 831 likely GOP primary voters was conducted January 21-22, 2015. The margin of error is +/- 3 percentage points. Results from the poll conducted March 6-7, 2014 are in square brackets. Results from the poll conducted November 30 – December 2, 2013 are in parentheses.

Data compilation and analysis courtesy of The Argo Journal

by @ 12:58 pm. Filed under 2016, Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, Poll Watch, Republican Party

Poll Watch: Rasmussen 2016 Republican Nomination Survey

Rasmussen 2016 GOP Nomination Poll

  • Mitt Romney 24%
  • Jeb Bush 13% {18%} [12%] (16%)
  • Ben Carson 12%
  • Scott Walker 11% {20%} [5%] (6%)
  • Chris Christie 7% {15%} [22%] (21%)
  • Rand Paul 7% {13%} [20%] (15%)
  • Marco Rubio 5% [16%] (18%)
  • Rick Perry 5%
  • Some other candidate 4%
  • Undecided 12%

Survey of 787 likely Republican voters was conducted January 18-19, 2015. The margin of error is +/- 3.5 percentage points. Results from the poll conducted November 20-21, 2014 are in curly brackets.  Results from the poll conducted November 7-8, 2013 are in square brackets. Results from the poll conducted August 1-2, 2013 are in parentheses.

Data compilation and analysis courtesy of The Argo Journal

by @ 10:15 am. Filed under 2016, Mitt Romney, Poll Watch, Republican Party

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.

Romney Now Calling Utah Home

According to the Washington Post, Mitt Romney’s primary residence is in Utah, and he has recently registered to vote there.

After losing two straight presidential races, Mitt Romney packed up his home in Massachusetts and journeyed west to Utah, building a mansion here in the foothills of the Wasatch Range that has served as his sanctuary from defeat.

Here in the Salt Lake Valley, first settled by his Mormon ancestors, residents look past Romney’s electoral shortcomings and revere him as a savior for rescuing the 2002 Olympics. Romney won his highest 2012 vote margin in Utah — 73 percent to President Obama’s 25 percent. This is also where Romney has been pondering a potential third campaign, calling out to friends and past supporters and praying with his wife, Ann.

“He feels very at home here,” said John Miller, a close friend in Utah who has been talking with Romney throughout his recent deliberations. “This is a very prayerful thing. .?.?. In the end, it’s really a decision between he and Ann and their belief system, their God. That’s the authentic Mitt.”

There is always the possibility that all this talk about running for President is but a feint, and his real goal is running against Mike Lee in 2016 for the Senate. It is something to consider. Mitt is extremely well-liked in Utah having saved the 2002 Olympics.

by @ 1:55 pm. Filed under Mitt Romney

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 26, 2015

How Much Establishment Support Does Mitt Romney Have?

There’s some interesting commentary on this video (sorry that I’m too inept to embed it), in which a Fox News Special Report panel places early bets on the Republican field – the premise being that each has $100 to allocate among the candidates at a hypothetical Vegas betting window. If you click the link, I think you’ll find it at least entertaining. For what it’s worth (which is approximately zero), the totals placed by the three panelists added up thus:

Scott Walker $85

Jeb Bush $70

Marco Rubio $70

Ted Cruz $10

The Field $50

It was interesting that nobody put a dime on Mitt Romney, who is leading all the polls (for what that is worth at this stage, which is again, in my opinion, approximately zero).

Romney’s non-support was of course picked up on and was the subject of the closing remarks, which could be summarized as:

“On Capitol Hill, few are for him, and there’s no enthusiasm elsewhere, other than from his loyalists/former staff.”

That, to me, is the most interesting part of this – I had been presuming that Romney and Bush would pretty much split the bulk of the party Establishment, with a some going to Chris Christie (also notable by his absence in the betting), and maybe slivers to Rubio and Walker.

IF this is true, the question, which I present for your comments, becomes: Is Mitt Romney the sort of candidate who can run without substantial Establishment backing? The corollary question is: IF he’s pretty much bereft of support on Capitol Hill, as alleged, will he even run?

by @ 2:34 pm. Filed under 2016, Mitt Romney, Republican Party

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.

Jeb Bush’s Speaks to the National Automobile Dealers Association

Last night Jeb Bush made his first major address since announcing he was seriously looking into running for President. He spoke to the National Automobile Dealers Association in their annual convention in San Francisco.  The Washington Post reports:

[T]he Republican former Florida governor spoke confidently and in significant detail about the broad range of issues beginning to shape the campaign for the White House. Bush signaled he would offer the country the “adult conversations” he said are lacking in Washington and would focus on people who have been left out of the economic revival.

Bush was sharply critical of Washington — not only of President Obama but also of the Republican-controlled Congress — saying there were too many “academic and political hacks” with “hard-core ideology” who are running the country without making progress.

“They’re basically Maytag repairmen,” he said. “Nothing gets done.” Bush added, “It is time to challenge every aspect of how government works — how it taxes, how it regulates, how it spends — to open up economic opportunity for all.”

The LA Times added:

“Just a lot of reasons to be angry or grumpy and negative and then react to the overreach,” the former Florida governor told a gathering of the nation’s auto dealers in San Francisco after delivering a long and scathing assessment of President Obama’s time in office, both domestically and on the world stage.

But, he went on, “we’re not going to win votes as Republicans unless we can lay out a hopeful, optimistic message that’s based in reality, that’s grounded in a set of policies that are real, that people believe can actually happen. Hope and a positive agenda wins out over anger and reaction every day of the week.”

He was asked at one point about his meeting with Mitt Romney the day before. He replied:

“We talked about the Patriots. We talked a little bit about politics, not as much as you might imagine. We talked about the future of the country. We talked about the need for a more engaged foreign policy..?.?.The awkward side of this, about running and such, we put aside.”

All in all not a bad speech. It is a strong start for a campaign for the Oval Office.

 

by @ 9:10 am. Filed under Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney

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.

 

Romney Inner Circle To Meet Today

Things are moving fast. Yesterday Mitt met with Jeb in Salt Lake. Today, Mitt is meeting with his inner circle in Boston. The National Review has the story:

The meeting will include members of the former Massachusetts governor’s inner circle: his son Tagg; top aides Spencer Zwick and Matt Waldrip; longtime confidante Beth Myers; political consultant Eric Fehrnstrom; longtime pal Bob White; and adviser Ron Kaufman.

[M]any of Romney’s famously loyal donors … don’t want a repeat of 2012. … “It’s been incredibly impressive how many of the large contributors remain solidly committed to Mitt and are prepared to support him in the race,” says one top Romney donor. “What they’re looking for is a political strategy that leads to victory in the general election and they’d like to see a strategy that introduces the real Mitt Romney, the Mitt Romney that they know, to the American voters.”

It’s been two weeks since the word went out that Mitt was seriously considering running again. That’s two weeks for the impact of the idea to sink in, two weeks to gauge reaction, and two weeks to identify the key strengths and weaknesses that may affect a potential run.

I’m predicting that this is the last true bail-point, the last chance for Mitt to call off a possible run with little or no damage. If he calls it off today, nobody would hold it against him. But if he doesn’t, the momentum behind the run will be nigh impossible to stop. He will be fully committed.

I suspect it’s fish or cut bait time for Mitt.

 

by @ 12:52 pm. Filed under Mitt Romney

Poll Watch: Rest of Rasmussen’s National GOP Presidential Poll

Rasmussen released partial results yesterday for their latest 2016 GOP Presidential Poll. Here are the rest of the results:

Horse Race Fav Unfav Never Heard Not Sure Support Certain Support Uncertain
Romney 24 77 20 1 2 31 27
Bush 13 64 28 3 5 20 14
Carson 12 51 16 26 7 21 11
Walker 11 52 17 23 8 9 15
Christie 7 53 36 6 5 6 6
Paul 7 57 27 7 9 5 10
Perry 5 54 29 10 7 3 7
Rubio 5 58 22 11 8 21 11
Other 4
Not Sure 12

How Certain are you of your vote:

  • Certain: 30%
  • Uncertain: 70%

Some observations:

  • Mitt Romney is currently enjoying a double digit lead over his closest competitor
  • Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, and Scott Walker are battling it out for second place.
  • Chris Christie, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, and Marco Rubio are down in the noise.
  • With a 30/70 ratio of vote certainty, nobody has this race sewn up.

 

Romney and Bush Meeting No Big Deal

The Salt Lake Tribune reports:

Two of the Republican Party’s top presidential talents met privately in Utah on Thursday, raising speculation they may have cut some sort of political deal. But those close to Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush said instead it was simply a cordial, political conversation between friends and potential rivals.

“It has absolutely no strategic implications. Period,” said former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, a close adviser to Romney. “I think it is two people who know each other, who like each other, who have common interests and who realize they may be in an awkward place soon.”

Bush hopped a Delta flight from Washington, D.C., to Salt Lake City International Airport, where a KUTV reporter talked to him. The former Florida governor said the meeting wouldn’t be uncomfortable.

“Nah, not at all,” Bush said. “I respect him a lot. I admire him a lot. He is a great American. I look forward to seeing him.”

Asked what they would talk about, Bush said: “The future.”

After the meeting at an undisclosed location, possibly one of Romney’s two homes in the state, Bush aides wouldn’t shed any light on what was said.

“Governor Bush enjoyed visiting with Governor Romney and has great respect for him,” offered Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell.

The Deseret News reported:

Thursday’s private meeting in Utah between potential 2016 presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush shouldn’t be seen as any sort of showdown, one of Romney’s top advisers said.

“There’s none of that,” said former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, who headed the transition team that would have prepared Romney to take over the White House had he defeated President Barack Obama in 2012.

“There are two men who have known each other a long time and like each other, and they want to make sure there’s good communications between the two of them,” Leavitt said. “And absolutely nothing beyond that.”

So much for Allahpundit’s “RINO Yalta”. Both of the parties involved are playing down the importance of the meeting, and nobody appears to be changing the trajectory of their pre-campaign campaign. It is an unusual move to be sure, but it is nice to see two potential competitors being nice to each other. It shows a fair amount of class.

by @ 12:01 am. Filed under Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney

January 22, 2015

Poll Watch: Rasmussen Bush/Romney Head-to-head

Rasmussen asked 787 Likely Republican Voters on January 18-19, 2015, the following question: If the 2016 Republican presidential primary were held in your state today, … [and] it was a contest between Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney, whom would you choose?

Here are the results, bearing in mind that this is a poll of Republicans:

Romney Bush Margin Neither
All 49 32 17 19
Conservatives 51 30 21 19
Moderates 49 31 18 20
Liberals 35 55 20 10

So Mitt easily out polls Bush with all Republican likely voters save liberal Republicans. With them, Jeb is the big favorite. Not only does Bush lead Romney in the raw liberal vote, but the liberals seem more certain of their choice. They want Bush.

How interesting is that?

Romney should temper his elation at this poll, however. Nearly 20% of the Republicans want neither he nor Bush even if they were the only two names on the ballot. That’s hardly an overwhelming vote of confidence.

All the same, this is the sort of result that will make the upcoming Utah meeting between Mitt and Jeb all the more interesting, don’t you think?

by @ 11:53 am. Filed under Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, Poll Watch

Romney On Country’s Challenges

Mitt Romney spoke to an audience in Salt Lake City last night about the challenges he sees facing America. The Deseret News reports: (Bullet Points added)

“It relates to the conclusion that I have, that the major challenges that this country faces are not being dealt with by leaders in Washington,” Romney said. “Both sides of the aisle, we just haven’t been able to take on and try and make progress on the major issues of our day.”

• Starting with the nation’s $18 trillion debt, Romney used a series of charts and graphs to warn the nation’s financial situation “could get worse” as interest rates rise and the spiraling debt climbs another $750 billion annually.

• He also tackled climate change, describing himself as “one of those Republicans” who believe the world is getting warmer and people contribute to the temperature changes and calling for “real leadership” to deal with coal emissions.

• Poverty and helping the middle class, topics Romney has started talking about since acknowledging to a group of donors recently he was considering getting in the 2016 race for president, were brought up several times.

“Let’s deal with poverty. Have we done it? No,” he said to applause, citing limited changes in the numbers of Americans living in poverty. “It’s just a crime to these poor families who deserve better.”

• The solution, he said, is to remove disincentives to marriage while helping break the cycle of intergenerational poverty by helping people find ways to finish their education and enter the workforce.

What won’t work, Romney said, is taking money from the wealthy to help the poor.

“I’m all for helping people who need help and giving them a lifting hand,” he said, but a better way is encouraging economic opportunity.

• “The rich do just fine,” Romney said later, adding that he believes “free enterprise and the principles of conservatism create more good jobs.”

(more…)

by @ 10:26 am. Filed under Mitt Romney

Jeb to Meet Mitt in Utah

The New York Times reports:

Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney are scheduled to meet privately this week in Utah, raising the possibility that the two former governors will find a way to avoid competing presidential campaigns that would split the Republican establishment next year, two prominent party members said Wednesday night.

The meeting was planned before Mr. Romney’s surprise announcement two weeks ago to donors in New York that he was considering a third run for the White House.

Mr. Bush proposed the meeting, according to one of the party members familiar with the planning, who did not want to be quoted by name in discussing a secret meeting.

The original idea was for Mr. Bush, who announced his presidential ambitions in December, to show his respect for Mr. Romney, the Republican Party’s 2012 nominee. The meeting stayed on both men’s calendars even as Mr. Romney took steps to test the presidential waters, moves that could make the meeting awkward.

Aides to Mr. Romney and Mr. Bush did not reply to requests for comment.

Oh to be a fly on the wall in that meeting!

by @ 8:49 am. Filed under Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney

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

Christie Will Not Be Squeezed Out, Says Supporter

The Washington Times reports:

Republican donors say Chris Christie won’t be squeezed out of the Republican presidential race even if Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush dive in because there is plenty of money to go around among the three men viewed as the establishment’s candidates and the New Jersey governor has advantages the other two don’t have.

Some analysts are wondering whether Mr. Christie, who has been eyeing a run for years but hasn’t been as forthcoming as Mr. Bush or Mr. Romney, could be left out of the race.

Chris Vincze, a Republican donor from Boston and Romney backer in 2012, said it is far too early to write off Mr. Christie, whom he plans to support if he runs.

“The notion that he is going to be squeezed out is so premature and invalid from my perspective,” Mr. Vincze said.

He added that the donor community in the Northeast is “very open” to all three candidates.

If Christie chooses to run, I am confident he will have plenty of money. Having said that, I have a hard time believing he has much chance of succeeding. While his loud, bellicose personality might be a hit in New Jersey, I have a hard time seeing it succeed elsewhere, especially when you consider his record.

And how many Republicans will forget his embrace of Obama the week before the 2012 election? Even if they have, his competitors and their supporters surely won’t. And they will take every opportunity to remind people of it.

And then there is his liberal record…

Good luck, Mr. Christie. You’re going to need it.

by @ 5:49 pm. Filed under Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney

Bush Reaches Out To Iowa’s GOP Chairman

The Des Moines Register reports:

Jeb Bush buoyed Iowa Republican leaders hopes today that he won’t spurn Iowa if he runs for president in 2016.

During a telephone call with Iowa’s Republican party chairman, Bush repeatedly said he’s not a candidate, he’s just exploring a bid for the presidency.

“But there was a resolve in his voice,” Chairman Jeff Kaufmann told The Des Moines Register this afternoon. “What I heard is a man that’s ready to come out and tackle the Hawkeye state.”

Kaufmann said he thinks Bush lined up the telephone conversation because he’d commented recently in the media that only two major candidates from the GOP potential 2016 lineup had yet to contact him: Bush, a former governor of Florida, and Mitt Romney, the party’s 2012 nominee.

 

by @ 5:35 pm. Filed under Iowa Watch, Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney

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