Here's the Nonsense: The GOP primary race will shake out quickly and only those candidates who have political experience will be left to compete for the nomination.
Here's the Horse Sense: The primary process takes its toll and candidates fall out as the process moves along. But most of those with the best chance of lasting until the final stretch still can't beat the GOPe (GOP establishment).
We're 15 months out from the presidential election and already there's talk of some of the candidates who participated in either of the two recent Fox-hosted debates getting out of the race. So, who really is looking like they have a chance to go the distance and be a final contender for the nomination? And can they beat the GOPe (GOP establishment)?
You may have thought that there were 17 Republicans who've thrown their hat into the ring for the 2016 presidential race. Actually, there are 38 who've done it so far, and a 39th pending (click here to see the list). For this post I'm going to limit my discussion to candidates within the group of 17 who participated in either of the Fox-hosted debates earlier this month. To refresh your memory, here's the list of those 17 in no particular order:
- Rick Perry
- Rick Santorum
- Jeb Bush
- Bobby Jindal
- Scott Walker
- Lindsey Graham
- Donald Trump
- Carly Fiorina
- Rand Paul
- George Pataki
- Ted Cruz
- Chris Christie
- Mike Huckabee
- Jim Gilmore
- Ben Carson
- John Kasich
- Marco Rubio
Some of these candidates, like George Pataki, Lindsey Graham, and Jim Gilmore stand little chance of getting anywhere and will most likely be out of the campaign before it gets too far into the primaries (if not before). They either don't have messages that are interesting to the base or don't have the campaign machine to get them the attention needed to stay in the race long term. I'm guessing that some, if not all of them, are running more to have "former presidential candidate" on their resume than for any other reason.
Rick Perry and Rick Santorum haven't been able to get any traction and don't seem to be able to get the attention of the voters. Perry's stumble in 2012 appears to be following him and he's had a hard time raising much money and now is not paying many on his staff. Santorum was the underdog who surprised everyone in 2012 by going the distance he did. But this year it appears that people are looking for fresh faces in the campaign and he's just not getting attention. He has some good things to say, but it just doesn't appear that he can reignite the support he needs. Chances are very high that these two will both be out of the race before we get too far along. In fact, Perry looks like he may be the first who is going to drop out.
Bobby Jindal hasn't gotten much attention yet, either. While many say he won't last until the end of the year, his message is very solid and he's done a great job in Louisiana as governor. If he can get a chance to break out like Carly Fiorina did in the last debate, there's a chance he could get traction so I'm not ready to throw in the towel on his chances this early in the game. If he can get that break out chance, he has the ability to be a formidable candidate.
Chris Christie will probably fall out of the race somewhere during the primaries, but some are saying he's already done. I think the GOPe wants him as a possible backup if Jeb can't catch on so I think they'll try to keep him in for some time to see if he can get past the slow start. John Kasich is the same way. He's seen by the GOPe as an alternative if they need it. I suspect that Kasich will be in the race for some time.
Rand Paul had what was thought to be an advantage of inheriting his father's followers. But it hasn't happened. He's dropped the ball in many ways. With 2 of his political allies are under indictment, that's hurting his reputation. But more than that, Rand really isn't a good communicator and he doesn't come across as a candidate people want to believe in. His father came across as an angry old grandpa, but he could get away with it because of his age. (Age has the advantage of allowing you to get away with some things that younger looking people just can't get away with.) In some ways, that was one of the things that endeared his followers to him.
Rand Paul's campaign is in enough trouble that his father, Ron Paul, is reported by Examiner.com to no longer be sitting on the sidelines. He has written a letter to his followers saying "Rand is the ONLY one in the race who is standing up for your Liberty, across the board." The article goes on to say that Ron Paul also wrote:
"'Even where Rand and I do have minor differences of opinion, I would take Rand's position over any of his opponents' in both parties every time,' he continued. He then took aim at the press. 'I know the media likes to play this little game where they pit us, or certain views, against each other,' Ron said. 'Don't fall for it. They're trying to manufacture storylines at liberty's expense. You've spent years seeing how the media treated me. They aren't my friends and they aren't yours.'"
Clearly Ron recognizes Rand's difficulties in his campaign and is trying to breathe new life into it. But with all of Rand's missteps I would imagine he'll fall out of the race somewhere early in the primaries. Some pundits are predicting before the Iowa caucuses early next year, but I think he may hold on a little longer than that. It's interesting to consider the rumor that Rand has been very angry that he's losing the Tea Party to Donald Trump. If that truly is his attitude, then he's making a terrible mistake in assuming that the Tea Party or any group of voters are an entitlement for him. When his campaign does implode it will be interesting to see which candidate his followers move their support to.
Marco Rubio is a GOPe candidate (although he pretends to bea conservative much like some other candidates). He is extremely young to be considered for the biggest job in the world and has shown his immaturity often in decisions he's made. But he is beloved by the GOPe and is in the race for a number of reasons. Like Christie and Kasich, the GOPe wants him as a possible alternative if Jeb fails, or as potential VP choice should Jeb do okay. They believe that he will bring in the Hispanic vote simply because he's Hispanic. But more important than any of that, he is considered by the GOPe as one who will split the votes for conservative candidates and give Jeb the best chance at winning the important state of Florida. My guess is that he'll be in the race until the final stretch.
Scott Walker is another candidate that I believe has a lot of people fooled. I believe he's GOPe and that he is also seen as a candidate that can help split the conservative vote so that Jeb can win important states like Florida. A huge number of conservatives like him simply because of how he handled the unions in Wisconsin, but they don't look any deeper to see the problems.
Bloomberg is reporting about the struggles Walker has encountered in his Iowa campaign. They write that Walker:
"... hopes to 'at least to be first, second or third' in all four of the early states, which also include New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada."
That is the common belief among Republican strategists, but the fact is that the first few states like Iowa, New Hampshire, and even South Carolina don't consistently reflect the outcome of the primaries. The critical state is Florida and if a candidate can win that, they are well on their way to taking the nomination. The GOPe see Walker like a few other candidates such as Rubio. They see them as spoilers to get conservatives to buy into their campaign pitch and end up splitting the votes of conservatives so the establishment candidate of choice can win the nomination.
The NY Times published a piece a little while ago about how the GOPe understood that he had moved to the right on issues to try to win the primaries, but they know that if he were to win the nomination he'd move to the left (or center as they like to call it) to run in the general election.
Then there's Mike Huckabee. Many think he doesn't stand a chance. But if you listen to him speak, like he did at the debate, he is a gifted and talented speaker with a strong message. I think he has a good chance of going quite a distance.
His recent book, God, Guns, Grits and Gravy, that came out around the time he announced his campaign is an important work because it points out the breakdown of the morals and values in our nation. It appears his big issue is taking America back to the values upon which our nation was founded. This is an extremely important topic and essential if America is to survive long term. A few other candidates embrace what he's saying, but he appears to be the most vocal and I think it will find an audience especially among those who are religious (not just evangelicals, but generally religious, moral people) that will allow him to stay in the race for some time.
The evangelicals he can draw in that are not traditionally involved in the voting process (there are between 20 and 30 million evangelicals who are not registered to vote) are a positive addition for most candidates in the GOP field as their involvement, even if Huckabee isn't ultimately the nominee, can give the GOP additional voters to offset the Democrats appeal to illegals, dead people, and those who vote multiple times in elections that most likely are the reason they have won some elections in recent years.
Carly Fiorina is the dark horse candidate. She's an amazing speaker and handles interviews very impressively. You don't hear her stutter or stammer or pause, she just answers questions and has solutions, which really isn't surprising given her business background. That's what businesspeople do, come up with solutions, which is not what politicians do. She, as a woman, offers a unique advantage in fighting against the Democrats who keep screaming about minorities and women needing to be elected to the presidency (even though all of their candidates for 2016 are white, old, and only one is female and may not last with all her legal problems). Some are starting to attack Carly now that she's getting attention. My suspicion is that she'll be one who stays in quite a while and most likely be under serious consideration for a cabinet post in the administration if a Republican wins the general election.
Ted Cruz is clearly the most talented debater among the candidates of either party. He's got a brilliant mind and is a pretty solid conservative. His mistake of voting for TPP lost him the support of many people, especially when he said that he did it because he believed Mitch McConnell on an issue (which turned out to be a lie). Many people think it was an immature mistake to have trusted a known liar like McConnell. They have raised concern over whether he'd make that kind of mistake again because America can't afford such mistakes when our nation's future is in the balance. The other problem he has, which some won't like me saying, is his voice. He is very nasal when he speaks and that could hurt him. America is a very superficial country and people base voting decisions on the most foolish things.
I remember in the 2012 election watching a Fox contributor on Sean Hannity's show say she'd chosen her candidate based on the sports team they liked. And those people are supposed to be "experts" but clearly that showed how foolish she was. But that's America and I don't put much stock in the American people doing their homework before making a voting decision.
On the other hand, in addition to the 3 Washington outsiders who are getting stronger and stronger (Trump, Carson, and Fiorina), Cruz's support is growing. I believe this is because more than any other politician-candidate in the race, he's spoken out against Washington insiders. As a result, the voters are seeing him in a better light than other politicians and this could play well for him. Regardless of his shortcomings, while I doubt his ability to beat the GOPe, I do think he'll be a final contender in the primaries.
Ben Carson is an amazing man. He has strong values and stands up for what he believes. While many felt he couldn't get far because of his soft spoken demeanor, he's already proving them wrong. Some even attack him because he doesn't immediately throw out an answer to a question, but stops to think. I think that shows a lot of wisdom to think before he speaks. I think he will be in the race until the final stretch and has a good chance at the nomination if he can overcome the GOPe. His followers are very loyal and that base appears to be growing even though he doesn't have much of a campaign support team set up. They are not the same, but the loyalty of his followers remind me of the loyalty Ron Paul supporters had for him.
Donald Trump is an enigma. He is different than anyone in the race and the press and pundits don't understand him let alone know what to do with him. I'm a businessperson and marketing expert and I think he is very understandable. I think he's in it for the long term, but I don't think his chances of running 3rd party are as great as people say. I think he wants to support the party even if he doesn't get the nomination, but he wants the nominee to be someone who can win and not the typical GOPe candidate. I think he uses the threat of a 3rd party run as a way to put pressure on the Republicans to make sure there's a good candidate.
His newly released Immigration Plan is getting rave reviews and striking right where the core of American voters want this country to go on immigration. This is the first of his policy papers, but more are to come. Don't be surprised like the pundits, establishment GOP and media are, at the depth of Trump's plans. As I wrote about back on July 4, Trump has a plan for America and it's very well thought out.
Jeb Bush is obviously the candidate of choice for the GOPe. And I believe that there's a very good chance that he will get the nomination unless a real upset takes place like it did in 1980 for Ronald Reagan.
Jeb's campaign has struggled to catch on with voters. WND.com is reporting that Jeb is about to receive a huge endorsement that his campaign is hoping will boost his campaign. According to WND:
"Twelve Medal of Honor recipients are coming forward to give their public stamp-of-approval to Jeb Bush for president - a significant endorsement, given the dozen represent 15 percent of all those still living who share that highest of military recognition."
While this endorsement certainly may help him, it really depends on whether the voters can distinguish between someone doing something great or heroic in their life and that same person's ability to pick which politicians to support.
I've heard that Jeb has been very angry that he's not leading in the polls and can't understand why he is losing to Trump. It is said that he believes that he's entitled to the nomination and no one should get in his way. That entitlement mentality, just like with Rand Paul, could be his biggest enemy. But other than some major upset that is too early to predict, I suspect that the plan by the GOPe is for Jeb to have the nomination.
Now, all that said, here's why I don't believe that most conservatives stand a chance against the GOPe choice, which at this point is Jeb Bush.
It's said that Jeb has lined up $1.5 billion in pledges for his campaign. The Democrats have said they've lined up between $2 and $2.5 billion for Hillary's (or whoever their candidate turns out to be) campaign. That means that the general election will take over a billion dollars to win against them. Stepping back to the primaries, which a candidate has to win before the general election, a Republican candidate will need to invest at least a few hundred million, if not more, to beat the GOPe's candidate (right now that's Jeb).
Only the big money donors can give candidates this kind of money. And the big money donors (also referred to as Wall Street) have made it clear they want a president who will do their bidding just as Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George H. W. Bush did for them. They have no interest in donating to conservative candidates because they won't serve them well.
That means that if the primaries are to be won over the GOPe and the general election over the Democrats, then either it will take a candidate like Trump who can write a check for the money needed or it will take an uprising of the grassroots with donations to pay for it. That would be an exception for our narcissistic nation to actually dig that deep into their individual pockets. But that is what you need to promote and pay for as voters if you want a conservative as your next president.