Welcome back to the RedState 2016 Presidential Primary Power Rankings! We have decided to make this a monthly feature until at the very least the debate season starts in earnest. So, here is April’s installment! To review, the rankings are chosen by a panel of current and former RedState contributors. Each panelist was asked to rate the candidates solely on their likelihood of winning the nomination, completely ignoring personal preferences. Each first place vote counted for 10 points, each second place vote for 9 points, and so on.
To view previous editions of this feature, click here!
Recent Polling Data:
- New Hampshire (NH1) – Walker 23, Bush 17, Paul 15, Cruz 9, Rubio 7, Carson 7, Huckabee 6, Fiorina 2, Perry 2
- National (FoxNews) – Walker 15, Bush 12, Carson 11, Cruz 10, Huckabee 10, Paul 9, Rubio 8, Christie 4, Perry 3, Santorum 2, Jindal 2
- National (ABC/WaPo) – Bush 21, Walker 13, Cruz 12, Rubio 8, Paul 8, Huckabee 8, Christie 7, Carson 6, Santorum 2, Jindal 1, Perry 1
- Florida (Quinnipiac) – Bush 24, Walker 15, Rubio 12, Carson 8, Cruz 7, Huckabee 6, Paul 4
The first tier
1. [mc_name name=’Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000595′ ] (Sen. – FL) (Last month: 3) (Points: 91)
Rationale: The panel is far more bullish on the just-announced candidacy of [mc_name name=’Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000595′ ] than the polls might otherwise suggest. There is at least a plausible reason for this, however – the last time Rubio ran for a high profile office he was much further behind in the polls and was completely written off at this part of the race. Anyone who has watched Rubio run a campaign knows that you underestimate him at his own peril. Rubio is the candidate who most meets the perceived needs of the voting base – he is young and Hispanic with charisma that laps the rest of the field. Furthermore, he would present the most vivid contrast in the general election with the aging, shrill, and fundamentally boring Hillary Clinton. In many ways, Rubio is perceived by the panel as being able to expose the exact same weaknesses on the part of Hillary that Barack Obama did in 2008 – which could go a long way towards answering the experience problems that he faces as well as questions about his record on immigration.
2. Scott Walker (Gov. – Wisconsin) (Last month: 1) (Points: 88)
Rationale: The shine has come off the Walker campaign somewhat after the heady days of February and March. Questions have been raised – some fair, some not – about Walker’s ability to handle a hostile media well, which is a necessary skill for any Republican Presidential contender. These questions have caused the panel to essentially drop Walker into a first place tie with Rubio; however, in terms of polling, Walker still has to be considered a clear front-runner, finishing either with relatively wide leads in nationwide polls (as well as state polling in all regions of the country). Walker’s record continues to be his strongest asset and, like Rubio, those who would write him off at this stage of the game haven’t been paying attention to the Walker’s career to date.
3. Jeb Bush (Fmr. Gov. – FL) (Last Month: 3) (Points: 81)
Rationale: Jeb Bush continues, to essentially, lurk in the background of this primary. He maintains a second place showing in the national polls and has an apparent stranglehold on Florida ([mc_name name=’Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000595′ ]’s own home state). Nonetheless he has the appearance of a candidate without a core constituency, and his fundraising has lagged behind his initial lofty goals. Unlike other years in which the appointed “establishment” candidate entered without a serious challenger, Jeb faces numerous conservative candidates with the chops to fight him all the way to the finish, both in terms of their record, media savvy, and charisma. Bush would have been an ideal candidate in a cycle where a coronation was called for; he may be ill-equipped to win in a legitimate dog fight.
The Second Tier
4. [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] (Senator – TX) (Last Month: 4) (Points: 73)
Rationale: Cruz got the jump on the field by announcing early and stealing a not-inconsiderable amount of thunder from his most natural rival, [mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ]. Cruz followed up his PR coup by raking in an impressive first week haul for his affiliated Super PACs and vaulting himself into a clear third place in the national polling taken since his announcement. In the last two weeks, Cruz has forced a change in the entire 2016 campaign narrative. Previously, Cruz was described solely as a “message candidate” or a candidate who was looking to elevate his own national profile. However, he’s essentially forced the media to take him seriously as a candidate who can win or at least cause trouble, which almost suffices to move him into the first tier. Still, it’s difficult to see a path to nationwide victory for Cruz given how polarizing he is even within conservative circles, whereas the first tier candidates are at this point without major plausibility problems as the nominee, so Cruz remains at the head of the second tier (for now).
5. Bobby Jindal (Gov. – LA) (Last month: 5) (Points: 54)
Rationale: If the last three weeks have shown anything, it is that the GOP field is in a state of fairly rapid flux, particularly behind the polling frontrunners (Walker and Bush). Campaign momentum is still very much up for grabs and it looks like a lot of candidates not currently receiving a lot of attention will get a serious look from the voters. This fluid situation can only help Bobby Jindal, who continues to lag in the polls but who stands to benefit the most from a wide open field. Jindal is obviously smart, doctrinaire, and competent, and if he is able to grab hold of even the smallest amount of momentum in this race, he might well not let it go.
6. [mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ] (Sen. – KY) (Last month: 8) (Points: 52)
Rationale: Paul became the second candidate to officially announce, which served to raise his profile further and give him a little bit of a polling bump. However, his first 48 hours featured one testy exchange with the media (including Sean Hannity) after another. Obviously, the media is a popular whipping boy for GOP primary voters, so Rand can afford some level of combativeness with them; however, it seems unlikely that Rand can sustain momentum as a candidate with a hostile image. Rand’s basic appeal is his claim to be able to draw new voters into the GOP fold – and a recent Q-Poll showing him performing the best against Hillary in several swing states lends credence to that claim. However, he has to be able to pick and choose his battles with the media to avoid the “angry” or “prickly” label, which could hurt him in that regard.
The Third Tier
7. Rick Perry (Fmr. Gov. – TX) (Last month: 7) (Points: 40)
Rationale: This is the tier where hopes take the place of actual plans. Hereafter, everyone on the list would need some drastically unforeseen event to launch themselves into contention. Perry’s best moment may have come and gone in 2012, when the economy and jobs were the looming concerns, areas where Perry has perhaps the best record of any of the GOP hopefuls. But bad debate performances (allegedly caused by painkillers) doomed Perry’s 2012 run and it’s unclear whether the current crop of issues needs Perry’s voice. However, it is entirely possible that the national attention will once again turn to issues that are Perry’s bailiwick and all indications are that if they do, he will be ready, presumably with enough money to run an actual campaign.
8. Chris Christie (Gov. – NJ) (Last month: 6) (Points: 28)
Rationale: Christie’s campaign looks, for all appearances, to be dead in the water. Like Perry, his best chance may have been 2012 and he flubbed on it by not taking it. Christie’s brash, prickly style isn’t resonating with the GOP primary electorate this time around, he is barely getting media attention, and his transparent pandering in Iowa hasn’t moved the needle in the polls. Nevertheless, Christie occupies more or less the same place in this year’s primary that [mc_name name=’Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’M000303′ ] did in 2008 – McCain was expected to be a frontrunner in 2006, but his early campaign fizzled and everyone wrote him off. By sheer cussedness and the incompetence of his rivals, he ended up securing the nomination, and Christie looks determined to hang around to see if he can repeat the feat.
9. Mike Huckabee (Fmr. Gov. – AR) (Last month: 9) (Points: 26)
Rationale: In almost every poll that’s been taken so far in almost every state, Mike Huckabee has led [mc_name name=’Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000595′ ]. And yet, Huckabee doesn’t really have the look of a candidate who will actually run a serious campaign at this point. Even if he does, his appeal is likely already capped at the number of people who were regular watchers of his FoxNews show. Huckabee’s cornpone style might well have had a shot in previous elections, but this year it will mostly elicit groans even from the GOP Primary electorate.
The Fourth Tier
10. Carly Fiorina (HP executive) (Last month: N/A) (Points: 15)
Rationale: I don’t know. We had to put someone here.
Others receiving votes: Carson, Kasich, Palin (troll), Ryan