Diary

Assessing the Dwindling GOP Field

FILE - In this Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015, file photo, Republican presidential candidates John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina and Rand Paul take the stage before the Republican presidential debate at the Milwaukee Theatre, in Milwaukee. The U.S. presidential election was one of the hottest topics on Facebook in 2015. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps, File)

The candidates are presented here in reverse order not based on polls, but on Vegas and UK odds on the GOP nomination.  This Tuesday will be the final debate of the year and then people will likely focus more on Christmas and New Year’s before entering the most serious phase of the campaign in January.

#13. [mc_name name=’Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’G000359′ ]:  This guy does not register in the polls.  The odds makers have his chances ranked lower than Pataki or Santorum.  That is not good news.  My guess is that he may hang in there through South Carolina, but a rejection of their home state Senator will convince him to exit the race.

#12 (tie). George Pataki:  Why he persists in remaining in the race defies explanation.  He does not register in the polls, he does not have any serious financial backing, and the odds makers don’t like his chances.  Most importantly, Republicans don’t like him.  This writer fails to see his motivation.  The only thing positive about it so far is he ranks above Graham.

#12 (tie). Rick Santorum:  So, being #2 in 2012 does not translate into heir apparent in 2016.  No one doubts his sincerity, just his chances.  He’ll be out of the race after Iowa.  By then, all the air- if there is any- will be out of his sails and he can then lend support to a more serious candidate.

#10. [mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ]:  At this point, given the rumblings in Kentucky, he should exit the race for President and concentrate on keeping his Senate seat.  The word in Kentucky is that he is taking his Senate race for granted.  That is bad strategy; just ask Eric Cantor.  Still, this writer believes he will hang in there through Nevada where his libertarian message is strongest.  But anything less than a 2nd place showing there should be proof to get out of the way for a more serious candidate.

#9. Mike Huckabee:  It surprises this writer that the likes of Graham, Santorum, and Huckabee remain in this race while infinitely better candidates like Jindal, Walker and Perry are no longer on this list.  Fox News is calling and he should consider that as a career choice; not President of the United States.

#8. John Kasich:  Let me repeat myself- Perry, Walker and Jindal are gone, but Kasich is still here.  Really?  Watching him in the debates, his “attacks” fell flat.  I’m glad the GOP has a Governor in Ohio, but a President Kasich is looking more and more like a long shot.  He reached his peak in September and has been slipping ever since.

#7. Carly Fiorina: Wow!  A great first second-tier debate and the co-winner of the second debate to almost obscurity.  I am not dissing her message and her commitment.  Among all the candidates, she is perhaps the most clear-spoken and consistently adamant.  She has remained focused.  But, she has failed to capitalize on momentum and that is troublesome.  This writer likes Carly Fiorina, what she has to say and the manner in which she says it- clear, concise and convincing.  Yet, there is just something missing here that you can’t put your finger on.  I suspect she’ll hang in there longer than most believe, but…

#6. Ben Carson:  What a difference a month makes.  Reality caught up to Carson as he drops in the polls (still #3 overall) and among the odds makers.  And let us be serious- did any reader here honestly expect Ben Carson to be the GOP nominee in 2016?  This writer has nothing against Ben Carson- he’s sincere, misunderstood at times, and accomplished.  But, some of that misunderstanding is attributable to Ben Carson.  He’ll probably stay in there mainly through attrition elsewhere, but honestly?

#5. Chris Christie:  As I write this, I am also reading a poll showing that Christie is running second to Trump in New Hampshire.  Anything less than a close third place finish in that state should convince him that his chances are dim.  Still, he is becoming more of a viable candidate through perseverance more than anything else.  There may be some money sitting on the sidelines right now waiting to see how he does in New Hampshire.  He is not a favorite here at Redstate, but many post-debate analysis has put him in the top tier of performers.  Make no mistake- his odds are still long, but could he be hitting his stride at the right time?  This next debate could be critical for Christie.

#4. Jeb Bush: Once the nominal front runner, he may find himself an almost-ran soon.  Yes- he has the money and yes-he has the endorsements, all of which ranks him fifth in the RealClearPolitics average of polls and in single digits.  The odds makers are also souring on him.  If all that money buys you is 5th place, then it may be time to reconsider either your strategy or your presence in this race.  His most recent advertisement calling out Trump, Rubio and Cruz by name is decidedly over-the-top.  Does anyone think, for example, that a President Rubio would be “absent” as President because he missed inconsequential votes over a nomination that passed 89-0?  Unfortunately, that is all he has on Rubio and it is falling on deaf ears as the last debate proved.  It is desperation and that is sad given his original standing in the polls and all that money and all those endorsements.  This writer believes that Bush is running a costly and ultimately futile campaign and he may be gone sooner than most think.

#3. [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ]: In previous articles of this nature, I wrote to be aware of [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ].  His handling of Donald Trump and his rhetoric has been nothing short of brilliant.  Trump says “Cruz has to come after me.”  He hasn’t thus far and it is paying off.  And the reason is obvious: Cruz has principles and greater conservative credentials than Trump.  He does not have to outdo Trump with the rhetoric.  Additionally, Cruz is an excellent campaigner as his Texas Senate run proved and excellent debater who came into his own in the last debate. I always placed Cruz in my top three potential candidates (along with Rubio and Walker).  In a way, I would love to see Cruz debate Clinton in a general election debate scenario.  And Cruz will be in this race probably longer than most.  He has built up a firewall in the South where his principled, consistent conservative message holds greater weight than others.

#2. Donald Trump:  Among the odds makers, there is not much light between Cruz and Trump.  Yes- Trump leads him by double the amount in the polls, something the Voldemort of the Republican Party touts in every sentence.  There are rumblings that Trump may consider an independent run which proves one thing- that pledge he signed against an independent run is meaningless to someone like Trump.  After all, look at his business record.  When has he not broken contracts when it was to his benefit?  If he doesn’t gain concessions through threats, he drags a creditor into bankruptcy court.  The art of the deal…  One wonders how Trump will react once he is served a huge piece of humble pie by actual voters, not people answering questions of a pollster on the phone.  This writer wishes Voldemort would disappear with his Dementers (followers) and become a footnote in American politics.

#1. [mc_name name=’Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000595′ ]: He is tied with Carson, slightly behind Cruz and more than half way behind Voldemort in the polls, yet the odds makers remain bullish on Rubio.  Like Christie, he may be hitting his stride at the right time.  Good debate performances and follow-ups have enhanced his position.  Attacks have fallen flat.  Money may be a problem, but that could work itself out with continued good performances.   Rubio represents the future while Clinton represents the past- a great campaign theme.  He’s also more middle class than Clinton- something key voters can identify with.  If he exits for whatever reason before Bush, I’ll sell my house and move to Canada.