If you read the initial post in this topic, you know that I’ve used a variety of background information sources to look at some numbers and make Hillary Clinton the odds-on favorite to win the Presidency in 2016. I also made two clear statements. 1. Things can change, but the prediction is based on the things that pundits use to make these kinds of predictions, including previous exit polling, current polling data, and factors that have an effect on voting trends. 2. My prediction does not necessarily reflect the way I will cast my ballot. I wanted the St. Louis Cardinals to win the world series, and predicting the Royals as the winners doesn’t change my loyalty at all, it is just a reflection of the reality of the way things are now.
The best assessment I’ve seen of the current state of affairs in the GOP primary campaign is characterized by the party official who put his head in his hands and said, “My, my, we’ve got a mess.” Yes, but it’s a political mess, which means that unpredictability and sudden reversals of fortune are always possible, and things can change at the drop of a hat.
Too Many Candidates
The biggest problem on this side of the campaign is simply the fact that there are too many candidates running. The debates are not giving any candidate, well, I should say most candidates, the kind of face time they need, and the inequities of campaign financing are drowning out the candidates that don’t have a huge war chest of finances. It also means that too many minor issues are getting too much attention, and the entire field is suffering from lack of ability to articulate a position or a plan on the things that matter to the American voters. That causes frustration which, in turn, causes some of the candidates to lash out and blame the media, like they did following the most recent debate. And that makes the whole field look bad. I mean, are you kidding me? In what debate do the debaters get the opportunity to pre-select the questions, or criticize the moderators for the kinds of questions they asked? You take what comes, and make the best of it.
There may be one advantage to the large field. If there’s no clear nominee by convention time, after the first round, the committed delegates are free to nominate and vote for whom they please. It’s been a long time since that happened, but it might be a good thing for the GOP in finding a consensus candidate who can unify the party and draw support from the various factions which do not seem inclined to unify behind a candidate now unless he or she reflects their exclusive perspective.
Will Following the Money lead to the end of the Trail?
One of the best arguments in favor of the Citizens United decision might well be the effect that cash is having on the GOP primary race. Trump is spending huge amounts of his own money, but has come to the point where he has also started asking for contributions, which may mean that even he has a limit on the amount of his own fortune he will invest in this campaign. Comparatively, other candidates who are creeping up on his poll numbers are spending relatively little cash, their own or that which has been contributed, because they simply don’t have large amounts of it. That would include Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina. Ted Cruz has a supporting billionaire, and a pretty good sized campaign account, along with a lot of PAC money, but hasn’t picked up a lot of traction with it. Marco Rubio’s numbers are better than Cruz’s, yet he has spent about a fourth of what Cruz has paid out. And of course, Jeb Bush is the fundraising king, and still has a bundle in his PAC, but his poll numbers are dropping like a stone in a well.
It seems that Carson and Fiorina are making the most of their media face time and debate appearances. In addition to that, I don’t think I’ve seen any GOP candidate on Facebook to the extent that Carson is. His campaign staff seems to be young, and tech-savvy, both important factors in this election cycle.
If money was the key factor in the GOP primary, Bush would be fighting with Trump, neck and neck in the polls. For what he’s laid out, Trump’s numbers are small, and Bush’s are miniscule.
On the Issues
Carson and Fiorina, who are both “outsiders” when it comes to politics, seem to be hitting on the issues that voters want candidates to discuss, at least more so than most of the other candidates in the field. They each have proposals and plans in response to issues like health care, education, and foreign policy, which come to the top of the list. They’re not ignoring social issues, but they aren’t focusing their campaigns on themes that haven’t really resonated with voters for a while, like most of the other candidates are doing. Trump has tried to nail down the “anti-Obama” theme, which has garnered him 25% of the Republican polling, and 75% who are saying “I’m voting for someone else, thank you.”
Who Isn’t Going to get the GOP Nomination
This is probably an easier question to answer than figuring out who will get it. My number one answer to this question is Jeb Bush. Nominating Jeb would be telling the country that the Republicans are no longer interested in the Presidency, and are content to work with a majority in, perhaps, one house of Congress. I’m not in favor of judging one family member by the actions of another, but I’m pretty sure, looking at the numbers and the preferences, the electoral history and the exit polls, that the Bush family will not count another President of the US among their family members, either sons of George H.W. or grandsons.
Rather than a paragraph as to why each of the following won’t be the nominee, I’ll just make a list of names and let you figure it out: Chris Christie, Bobby Jindahl, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, George Pataki, Jim Gilmore, and Rick Santorum.
It won’t be Rand Paul. For obvious reasons, he just doesn’t have the personality or the ability to attract voters. He’s not even as popular among right wing extremists in the GOP as his father was. Nor will Donald Trump get it. There’s no way he can, drawing only 25% or so of the support. At each primary stop, someone will come out ahead, and he won’t be able to handle it. The possibility of a Trump candidacy scares the RNC to the point where they are openly opposed to it, and surreptitiously working against it. He resonates with a more extreme, anti-government segment of the far right, and that’s not palatable with moderate Republicans who wouldn’t do it openly, but who will vote for Mrs. Clinton when they are safe within the confines of the private voting booth.
My own preferences, by the way, are in that list, so I am being fair.
Who’s Left Standing
Looking at the list in the previous paragraphs, that leaves Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio as potential candidates. Each one of them brings something to the table that the GOP desperately needs to help move forward. Don’t discount the racial or gender issues here. Even if those are just surface issues, and they have to do with the image the GOP projects, the fact that three of their most viable candidates represent the two largest minority groups in the US, and one is a woman, is a decisive issue, IMHO
If you look at head to head polling, name recognition is going to be a major issue for Carson and Fiorina, neither of whom are polling as well as Mrs. Clinton. Looking at the numbers and at the odds, Rubio emerges as the best possible candidate that the GOP can field. He can gather enough of the Hispanic vote to close that gap, and the potential for carrying Florida is there, though he does not . His biggest problem may be convincing the conservatives in his own party to turn out for him. I’m not saying this will be easy, but Rubio, more than any other candidate, makes it doable.
Evangelical Christians will have to come to grips with Rubio’s Catholic faith. And there have been problems related to misinformation regarding his parents and their immigration from Cuba to the US, during the Batista dictatorship, not Castro, as Rubio once claimed. However, Rubio seems to be the strongest candidate that the GOP can field, when you look at the numbers. It remains to be seen if he will be able to win enough delegates to have it sewn up before the convention, but he’d be a great candidate nominated from the floor.