2016 - An Outsider's Handicapping, Part II

Back in November I made an analysis of the Republican potential field for President.  Much has happened over the intervening months and I thought I would make two more reviews before the season starts, now and the week before the voting actually gets underway.

There were 20 potential candidates back in November, and out of that group, I identified Pataki and [mc_name name=”Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)” chamber=”senate” mcid=”G000359″ ] as potential candidates, but did not think they would actually run.  I still don’t think they have a snowball’s chance of winning, so will ignore them as though they were not running.  Anyone with the nickname “Grahamnesty” is DOA.

Ben Carson, Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina are non-politicians.  They have absolutely zero chance on this basis.  We simply have not nominated anyone without political experience for President for very many reasons.  They will provide insight and be a great counterpoint to Hillary, but they will not win the nomination.  Donald Trump, especially, would be fun at debates and may help play the Newt Gingrich role of providing soundbites and humor.  I do really like some of what he says, so he may even force some of his opponents to co-opt his theories, which would not be bad.

Of potential candidates never having run before, I had a shortlist of potential new people as [mc_name name=”Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)” chamber=”senate” mcid=”C001098″ ], Christie, Bush, Jindal, [mc_name name=”Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)” chamber=”senate” mcid=”R000595″ ], and Walker.  As it turns out, they are all actually candidates, so if anything, most politicians perceive this race as anyone’s to take.  They therefore all stay in the mix.

Romney, Santorum, Huckabee, Kasich and Perry all have experience running a campaign.  Romney is officially out, so that leaves Santorum, Huckabee, Kasich and Perry.

Huckabee and Santorum are still two candidates that will siphon votes from each other and of the two, Huckabee is a stronger candidate, so Santorum is out.

I thought several months ago that of the sitting governors, the outcome would be Christie, Kasich, Walker and then Jindal.  However, Christie has faded considerably and Walker has started out strong, so right now the order would be Walker, Kasich, Jindal, Christie.  I do not believe Jindal has the visibility yet that he needs to win, but he does have strong ties nationally and cannot be counted out.  I think Bush and Christie are too similar in some ways for Christie to succeed.  So this group will be left at Walker, Kasich and Jindal for a paragraph or two.

Bush, Huckabee and Perry are the former governors.  I do not believe Huckabee has a chance due to his history and my sense that he is a Fred Thompson, Rudy Giuliani-type candidate who will not stick it out.  So Bush and Perry are going to remain in this pool for the moment.

Of the current senators, only Rubio and Cruz have a chance.  They are both well-spoken and have grassroots support.  They are different enough that they don’t steal from each other.  Let’s throw them in the mix for the final list.

We are left with Walker, Kasich, Jindal, Bush, Perry, Rubio and Cruz as the final seven.  Each has strengths and weaknesses.  Kasich and Perry have some level of advantage having run before.  Perry, especially, knows what a gaffe can cost you.  Walker, Kasich, Bush, and Rubio have all been elected in areas that can swing, and so understand a bit of the balancing act that is necessary.  I don’t see Cruz as having a path to victory, not only because of the modern voting system but also due to a lack of legislative experience and never having run before.

Jindal could only win if other front-runners trip up.  There are historical precedents, but very few for this many strong candidates.  So he is going to be left out.

Among Walker, Kasich, Bush, Perry and Rubio, it will all depend on how they get painted and what, if any, scandals emerge.  There is a fair level of dirty pool that goes on in these things, and supporters of each candidate will be eager to give their own favorite a leg up.  Kasich and Perry both hail from states which have produced Presidents and Bush hails from a family which produces Presidents.  Bill Clinton, though, put Arkansas on the map and that just demonstrates that an efficient campaign staff is as important as an efficient candidate.

Back in November, assuming they ran, I thought the final six would be Romney, Kasich, Christie, Perry, Walker and Bush.  Romney and Christie have fallen off and Rubio has joined the shortlist.

This exercise is no fun unless you go out on a limb, so why not?  I see the nomination strength being Kasich, Perry, Bush, Walker and Rubio.  Despite all of the potential social issues and focus on Obamacare, I still think voters are most concerned about economics and on that basis, Kasich and Perry have the strongest arguments.  Bush has a huge machine behind him, and Walker and Rubio also have a good track record.  I still think jobs, though, is the central theme of this election.  My hope is that Perry is much improved this time around.  If he is, he will be very competitive.  If he pulls a big gaffe, or if any of them do, then this prediction is worthless.

So, Kasich remains a front-runner for me.  He loves Obamacare, but he will moderate his stance very soon and he will focus 100% on his time in government with a balanced budget and his ability to win in Ohio.  I would prefer Perry and hope he has an opportunity to shine.