I originally was not going to post another entry on this until right before Iowa, with a final prediction, but the past month has been so interesting that I thought I would revisit this topic.
We have had two strong, conservative, former governors drop out. That was a surprise. Perry might run for the Senate, as may Walker, but I think for both their Presidential ambitions are done.
There have been countless articles written about Trump lately, and along with him, the candidates with any traction at all have really narrowed. We are down to Trump, Carson, Rubio, Fiorina, Cruz and Bush. At this point, Kasich is only in by virtue of being considered a Bush alternative should Bush bow out.
So I do not see this race as more than seven candidates left standing. Out of the seven, they fall into a few overlapping groupings: Governors, Senators and Outsiders; Conservative, Establishment; Hawk, Dove; Social Conservative, Libertarian, Compassionate Conservative; Deficit Dove, Deficit Hawk.
What will change between now and February? The news cycle should continue to uncover information about the candidates and the debates will shed more light on styles and specifics. Economics counts to most voters and this is the first time the focus should be on economic issues. This is one area where everyone but Dr. Carson have some interaction and thus likely to have a chance to promote their own views and past stands. I do not think Carson’s standing will be as high after this debate, but I could be wrong.
Overall, at this point Trump, Rubio, Carson and Fiorina appear to have the most to lose. All four will try to jockey for the first and second slot in polls. I think Carson is at the biggest disadvantage because the other candidates have been in leadership roles where they have had to deal with economic priorities for public and private organizations. That also applies to Cruz to a lesser extent. Cruz is a reliable conservative, but objectively his background is like Carson’s in terms of managing an organization. That would seem to be a liability in the nomination process.
That leaves Trump, Rubio, Fiorina, Bush/Kasich. The fun in predictions is that you can go out on a limb. I just don’t believe the electorate will nominate Bush. I also do not believe when push comes to shove that they will nominate Trump, as long as there is an alternative they can stomach. Can they stomach Rubio, Fiorina or Kasich? Too early to tell. Kasich’s stand in the polls are not positive, but if he holds out, he could benefit from others stumbling.
I think all eyes will be on Rubio and Fiorina at the next debate. If they do well on economics, then I think by February this will be down to a four-horse race. If not, then I think Trump will maintain his lead. I cannot wait for the CNBC debate.
I will make a final handicapping the day before Iowa and then recap after the Nomination is made and assess how close to historical trends this has gone.