“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” (Peter Drucker)

I don’t put a lot of stock in the current status of the “horse race” as a predictor of who will be the GOP nominee. At this stage in recent elections, Michelle Bachman, Herman Cain and Rick Perry were way out front and we know how that turned out.  However, after a few months of the field campaigning and raising money and after two debates each watched by over 23 million Americans, I think we can start looking into the future.

The following are some inferences from the most recent CNN poll which was taken after the debate held at the Reagan Presidential Library hosted by Nancy Reagan.

Those who should consider dropping out (6 candidates). I reach this conclusion because to stay in could damage their long-term reputation and possibly future prospects for elective office.   To expect lightening to strike is not realistic.

The following is the combination of those Republicans who consider these candidates their first choice AND/OR their second choice.

Santorum (2%), Walker (2%) (explains Walker dropping out), Graham (1%), Pataki (1%), Gilmore (less than 1%) & Jindal (less than 1%).

Those on the bubble (5).   These candidates whose total between first and second choice is still under 15% (all others are at least 20%). They have got to move up or they will just become after-thoughts. With the race still fluid (over 70% of those polled still have an open mind and may change their preferred choice) and may pick up support from those who drop out, this is not a level that is sustainable to be considered a serious candidate in a smaller field.

Huckabee (14%), Cruz (11%), Christie (9%), Paul (7%), & Kasich 3%.

Top-tier candidates (5). Carson (33%), Trump (32%), Fiorina (26%), Rubio (24%) & Bush (20%). The following is gleened from the poll about these candidates.

Carson: Carson made a strong impression (positive or negative) on only 7% of the debate audience. I think that is consistent with his low-key style but will it get him the nomination? Carson has the highest Favorable rating (65%) and Net Fav/Unfav rating (55% is by the far the best suggesting he still has upside potential.

Trump: Like Paul, 20% more of the audience thought Trump did the worst than thought he did the best in the debate. Since Trump announced, his Favorable rating (52%) has gone up 2% and Unfavorable rating (40%) declined 2%. A lot of activity and coverage with very little movement. With only 8% of the GOP voters wanting more information to form an opinion of him and a small Net Fav/Unfav. Rating, Trump has to do something different to prevail.

Fiorina: She clearly made the biggest impression in the debate. 52% of the GOP viewers thought she did the best in the debate while only 2% thought she did the worst. While her Favorable rating (54%) has climbed 9%, her Unfavorable rating (17%) also climbed 6%. Personally, I think she needed to have had a lighter moment and looked less stern when she wasn’t talking. However, Fiorina’s Net Fav/Unfav rating of 37% still can expand as 29% of GOP voters still don’t have enough information to form an opinion.

Rubio: He clearly had the second best debate night. Rubio’s Favorable Rating (57%) has moved up 13% since July (second only to Fiorina) while his Unfavorable remained at 16%. Combined with his Net Favorable/Unfavorable rating of 41% (highest after Carson) and near-Fiorina-like 27% who need more information to form an opinion, Rubio appears to have strong upside.

Bush: As of right now, he has numbers that are Trumpian. Additionally, only 13% don’t have enough information to form an opinion of him. If it weren’t so early, one could almost put him on the bubble.

The following is a table of those who were in the main debate

  First or Second Choice Fav. Rating Unfav. Rating Net

Fav./ Unfav.










Carson 33% 65% 10% 55% 3% 4% -1%
Trump 32% 52% 40% 12% 11% 31% -20%
Fiorina 26% 54% 17% 37% 52% 2% 50%
Rubio 24% 57% 16% 41% 14% >1% 13%
Bush 20% 49% 38% 11% 2% 9% -7%
Huckabee 14% 53% 28% 25% 1% 7% -6%
Cruz 11% 52% 22% 30% 3% >1% 2%
Christie 9% 44% 32% 12% 6% 3% 3%
Paul 7% 38% 37% 1% 2% 22% -20%
Kasich 3% 24% 25% -1% 2% 1% 1%

It is still early. And the primary elections are still months away. Any of these candidates can be viable when voting starts. But, the field will likely be narrowed to 5 or 6 candidates. Whether formally or informally, the field is realistically down to these10 candidates.

Four months ago, the “Big 5” were Bush, Walker (dropped out today), Paul, Rubio & Cruz with Perry (dropped out) barely looking in. Today, we have Carson, Trump, Fiorina, Rubio and Bush. What it will be in four months is hard to predict.

But, we do know what each have to do.

Paul and Kasich have the biggest hill to climb. Too small a Net Fav./Unfav. Rating. They have to convert Unfavorables into Favorables quickly and get the preponderance of the 25% who don’t know enough about them into a Favorable impression.

Christie’s challenge is part Paul/Kasich above & Huckabee/Cruz below.

Huckabee and Cruz have to find a way to convert their Net Fav./Unfav. Rating into support. Huckabee’s challenge might be easier as his social conservative rhetoric can generate support for those who have this agenda highest on their radar. Cruz’ challenge is he can’t out-“ousider” Trump, Fiorina, or Carson. Does he change his rhetoric/focus or does he hope Trump implodes?

Bush and Trump have to reduce their Unfavorables. If they can’t do that, it will be hard to increase their support as First or Second choices.

Carson, Fiorina, Rubio have the easiest road in their immediate future. They have all the best combination of underlying data and have no apparent negative trends. Their message is not only increasing support but it doesn’t seem to have a concurrent effect of increasing their negatives. They just need to continue to position themselves to attract supporters of those who drop out.

However, as Bush and Trump have experienced, being at the top invites greater scrutiny. In 2008, McCain came back from the “dead” because he had the mettle to survive the bumps. Same with Romney in 2012.

We might still be in the pre-season of this primary but it won’t be long before we can with greater assurance predict the contenders and the pretenders.  What do you think the bottom five have to do to move up?  What do you think will cause candidates in the top five to drop out?  Its going to happen.

P.S.  As I was finishing this post, I found out Walker dropped out.  I didn’t change the text as I think it reminds us of what can happen in just a few months.

“I put my foot in my mouth more than I speak properly.” (Scott Adsit)

In an effort to inspire Porter Lansing to take his foot out of his mouth, he first has to know it is in there.  Two weeks ago, repetitive liberal poster Porter posted the following as a definitive statement Obama’s Iran Nuclear deal merited approval by Congress:

Endorsement the day:
Three dozen retired generals and admirals released an open letter Tuesday supporting the Iran nuclear deal and urging Congress to do the same.
Calling the agreement “the most effective means currently available to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons,” the letter said that gaining international support for military action against Iran, should that ever become necessary, “would only be possible if we have first given the diplomatic path a chance.” – Karen DeYoung (WashingtonPost)  Read it here

Today, 195 retired generals and admirals respond with:

“In our judgement as former senior military officers, the agreement will not (prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons).  Removing sanctions on Iron and releasing billions of dollars to its regime over the next ten years is  inimical to the security of Israel and the Middle East.  (There is no process of reinstating sanctions) should Iran violate the agreement.  In this and other respects, the (Iran Agreement) would threaten the national security and vital interests of the United States and, therefore, should be disapproved by Congress.

“The agreement as construed does not “cut off every pathway” for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.  . . .

“The agreement is unverifiable. . . .

“The agreement provides by some estimates $150 Billion or more to Iran of sanctions relief. . . .

“In summary, this agreement will enable Iran to become far more dangerous, render the Mideast still more unstable and introduce new threats to American interests as well as our allies.  In our professional opinion, far from being an alternative to war, (the agreement) makes it more likely that the war the Iranian regime has waged against us since 1979 will continue, with far higher risks to our national security interests.  Accordingly, we urge the Congress to reject this defective accord.”

Letter from 195

In short, 84% of the former retired generals and admirals have expressed opposition.  16% have expressed support.  This is a landslide.  Dirty toes in mouth isn’t good.  The entire foot really isn’t good.

“(Do) you know who was the first president – Democratic president I ever met? Bill Clinton.” (Jimmy Carter)

Before I say what is basically trivial and maybe not even interesting, I pause in prayer for the health of former President James Earl Carter.

With the news of former President Jimmy Carter’s cancer diagnosis, I got to thinking of something:  It seems we have a lot of former Presidents living.  Somethings I uncovered with a quick review of the list of former Presidents:

1)  In general, most Presidents serve with one or two predecessors alive during their Presidency with a few occasions of three predecessors for awhile.  As this is possibly sometimes the loneliest job in the world, knowing there are “others” who have been there must be comforting, knowing they are available for advice during difficult and dark moments.

2)  Except during the Presidency’s of George Washington and John Adams, after LBJ’s death, Richard Nixon was the only President to serve without a predecessor being alive.

3)  While many Presidents served with three predecessors alive, until the Presidency of George Herbert Walker Bush, we had never had four former Presidents (Nixon, Ford, Carter & Reagan) alive at the same time.

4)  For fourteen months of the Presidency of Bill Clinton, we actually had five former Presidents alive at the same time (Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, GHWB).  With the death of Nixon, we fell back to four former Presidents alive.  And then for almost 30 months during the start of the Presidency of GWB, we again had five former Presidents alive (Ford, Carter, Reagan, GHWB, Clinton) but by the time his term ended, we were back to a more normal three former Presidents alive.

5) Having again five living former Presidents is possible if Carter and GHWB are still alive at the end of the Presidency of Barack Obama (Carter, GHWB, Clinton, GWB, Obama).  I end this post as I began:

I pause in prayer for the health of former Presidents Carter and GHWB to stay with us and enjoy good health as the world is better with them in it.  While I’m in this mode of reflection, I too pray for our living former Governors Frank Farrar, Harvey Wollman, Walter Dale Miller (I am so embarrassed I forgot Walt.  I truly love this man) and Mike Rounds.

“I am paying for this microphone, Mr. Green!” (Ronald Reagan)

On September 16, CNN will host the second major GOP Presidential Debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library hosted by Nancy Reagan.  Similar to the debates on Fox, there will be a “prime-time” debate consisting of the “top 10” candidates and an “under-card” debate consisting of the remaining candidates who are polling above 1%.  Seems clear enough.

According to realclearpolitics.com (an average of recent polls), the top seven are:  Trump, Bush, Carson, Walker, Rubio, Cruz & Fiorina with Fiorina at 6.3%.  Clearly, if you were to draw a line, this is the top tier candidates.

The next three are Paul, Kasich & Huckabee all at 4.3% and Christie is outside looking in at 3.3%.

The next tier begins with Perry (1.3%), Santorum, Jindal, Graham, & Pataki.  However, only Perry & Santorum are at 1% or higher.  The rest barely register making the under-card a group whose total support is less than 3.3% (lower Christie who is the first candidate above this group).  In fact, if they all dropped out, the movement of support to the other candidates wouldn’t even be noticed in the polls.

But it is what it is.  Or is it?

Then when you read the selection criteria of CNN, Fiorina is out of the “prime-time” debate and Christie is in.  What the heck?

  1. How can the #7 person in the polls be out and a person with half her support be in (Christie)?
  2. More importantly, how can the person who has jumped the most in the polls since the last debate and arguably the winner of both debates (only Carson & Rubio can make a case if considering movement in the polls)?

CNN’s selection criteria includes debates which go back to July 15th (a month before the Fox debate) when Fiorina was registering 0% and 1% in the polls.  Since the debate, she has been polled 5%, 5% and 9% beating Paul, Kasich, Huckabee, & Christie all scheduled to be in the next debate.  

In fact, when you realize that the criteria includes three polls with Fiorina at 0% and one at 1% (all from July), mathematically Fiorina would have to poll in the top 4 (8-9%) from now until the poll deadline of September 10th to beat out one of the candidates polling at 3-4%.

Yes, I feel sorry for Rick Perry being designated to the “under-card” debate but hopefully it will give him a chance to shine and maybe bust into the top tier.  In my mind, Rick Perry is the star in this group and has run a good campaign especially relative to those in his “tier.”  Similarly, Chris Christie is statistically tied with Paul, Kasich, Huckabee and maybe doesn’t deserve to be bumped down as Fiorina bumps him to 11th place.

But, if Carly Fiorina is denied the “prime-time” stage, that is a travesty.   Mrs. Reagan, how about giving Carly a “sponsor’s exemption?”  Channel a bit of your husband!!

Historical background:  In a 1980 Presidential primary debate moderated by a local New Hampshire paper because federal campaign law at the time prevented newspapers from paying for the venue, the Reagan campaign paid all the debate expenses (including the microphones). The paper wanted the debate to be limited to Reagan and Bush because they were the “favorites.”  Reagan thought denying Howard Baker, John Anderson, Bob Dole et. al. a chance to participate was unfair and thus what you see on the attached YouTube video.

Ronald Reagan in New Hampshire, 1980

“It is the dim haze of mystery that adds enchantment to pursuit.” (Antoine Rivarol) Updated

Update:  Nate Silver reached nearly the same conclusions as mine but a lot less deep.  I think he and everyone else is missing the “profile” concentration issue (non-politicos, Senators, Governros).  http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/the-post-debate-losers-walker-and-winners-fiorina/

I want to stress the GOP primary is extremely fluid.  This morning at a regular breakfast, while there were current favorites among everyone there, the true reaction to the debate was universal enthusiasm for virtually the entire field.  The adverse reaction to Trump was what he did and said AFTER the debate.  

We have the first national polling after record-breaking GOP Primary debate from last week.  In reality, I have no idea what it may mean in the end.  In politics, campaigns surge, campaigns fade, campaigns die and they sometimes come back to life.  The following is some information, random thoughts, questions, and some possible scenarios.  What do you think?

Comparing candidates movement from the prior Rasmussen poll, candidates support changed as follows:

Moving Up:  Fiorina (+8%), Rubio (+5%), Undecided (+4%), Christie (+2%)

Moving Down:  Trump (-9%), Walker (-5%), Huckabee (-4%), Bush (-3%)

No or minor change (plus or minus 1%):  Everyone else.

Random thoughts and questions:

  1. Fiorina appears to be in the next main debate and on the bubble is Paul, Christie, Kasich and Huckabee (currently outside looking in).
  2. Fiorina didn’t get all of her gain from her fellow debate participants.  Collectively, they only fell 3%.  She grabbed 5% of her gain from those in the second debate.  The degree it came from Trump (non-politico) or the former/current Governors is a big question.  This dissatisfaction might imperil the former/current Governor’s as maybe too many won’t listen to what the Governor’s actually have done.
  3. Non-politicos (Trump, Fiorina, Carson):  Collective support is 34% and collectively netted a 2% gain.  This indicates the depth of the dissatisfaction with “business as usual.”  If collectively this group maintains 1/3 support we are in for a wild ride because even if they don’t win primaries, they will significantly alter the playing field in each state making predictions and conventional wisdom moot.
  4. Former and current Governors (9 candidates):  Collective support is 33% and collectively dropped a net of 10% (8% of which came from the drops of Walker and Bush).  Going into the debate, Governor’s appeared to be the preferred profile with 43% support.  They ran states and by virtually all objective measure have performed or are performing.  In my mind in the debate, each of them touted impressive accomplishments as Governor so I’m wholly surprised by the collective drop.  Walker and Bush may need to have their colleagues drop out to move in the polls if there is no decline in collective non-politico support as I can see large chunks of Huckabee, Christie, & Kasich drifting to either Bush and Walker.
  5. US Senators (5 candidates):  Collective support 23% and gained collectively 5% and it was all Rubio.  While Cruz is likely staying in the race for a long time if not the duration no matter how he does in the early primaries, I still wonder about Rubio and Paul.  Their seats are up for re-election this year.  Where do they have to be in the polls to stay in the race vs. going back home to run for re-election?  When do they have to make the decision (legally and practically)?  And, if they drop out, where does their 14% support go?  To a fellow Senator (Cruz or Graham)?  To the non-policos?  To a Governor?
  6. From whom did the 4% jump in undecideds come from?  Trump or the Governors?
  7. The non-politicos are likely in the race through New Hampshire for sure.  I will be watching to see if Rasmussen’s next poll has them garnering more collective support or less.  It might be the most relevant “measurable” after the next debate.
  8. Trump has to stem his decline.  If he falls below 10%, his rise and fall will be seen as too similar to Gingrich & Cain last election.  Rasmussen doesn’t publish cross-tabs and it is my guess much of the decline is from women.  I’m not sure his statement today that he is considering not de-funding Planned Parenthood is a good strategy but we will see.
  9. From now and through the next debate, I believe that Bush, Cruz, Rubio and Walker have to mostly do no harm to themselves.  There is a shake-out coming and they best gain by being in a position to attract the 1/3 of the GOP voter population who currently is undecided or with candidates who drop out/become non-viable.  It doesn’t mean they play it safe but don’t err on the side of being too aggressive.
  10. Similarly, Fiorina and Carson need to stay the course of raising money and meeting with voters while articulating firm and cogent arguments.  They still are introducing themselves to both voters and the process.  Unlike those I list in #9 above, a misstep could be fatal.
  11. The Bubble Candidates (Huckabee, Paul, Christie, Kasich and maybe Perry) have to find away to become more relevant and stand-out.  In my mind, these are the candidates with the toughest decisions to make regarding tactics and strategy.
  12. Everyone else, if you don’t break out like Fiorina in the next debate, nobody will care what you do from now on.  Your endorsement won’t even matter.  If you want to be relevant, make an endorsement tomorrow.  At minimum, you’ll gain brownie points with voters because you are no longer taking up space.

Scenario #1:  I see a scenario at year-end of 6-8 remaining viable candidates with support between 12-20% and nobody a clear favorite whereby these candidates stay in the race to the end.  In the end, I think this will insure the GOP picks the best general election candidate who is battle tested like none before.  Unless Trump or Fiorina fade, today I guess it the remaining slots will be:

  • Three slots held by the non-politicos, Trump, Fiorina, and Carson.
  • Three slots by Bush, Cruz, Walker.  (No Rubio or Paul as I think in this scenario they will choose to run for Senate re-election)
  • One or two of the current bubble candidates,
  • And maybe a candidate who pulls a Fiorina and gets hot at the right time.

If this is the scenario, I think it favors Bush as nobody will have the money and organization to win primaries in a diverse field as we go through the season.

Scenario #2:  I also see a scenario where Fiorina continues to climb attracting significant support from the other non-politicos (Trump continues to fade and Carson ceases to be intriguing), one of Bush, Kasich, or Walker rises out of the Governor’s category, and one of Cruz, Paul or Rubio rises out of the Senators and going into Iowa we have essentially a three candidate race.  If this is the scenario, I can’t even hazard a guess on who would be the favorite.  Because the field is smaller, Bush’s organization and money advantage will be minimized as the remaining candidates will pick up what isn’t going to those who dropped out.  However, under this scenario, by the end of the season, there will be a nominee and a convention fight is avoided.

Scenario #3:  Finally, I see a scenario where Trump maintains 20-25% support across the country and in most individual states.  In this case, the other candidates fight over the remaining 75-80% whereby different people win different primaries.  Under this scenario, we go to the convention which becomes brokered.  Under this scenario (whether he has a significant block of delegates or not), Donald Trump may become the king-maker.  I think this is ultimately his endgame and why he won’t make the pledge.

I do not see a scenario where we have more than 8 viable candidates going into Iowa.  Not enough money, volunteers, room for people to break-out.

Sidenote:  The Clinton email problem may have reached fatal proportions even if Clinton loyalists don’t see it.  I’m betting the Clinton’s are wishing General Petraeus had not been prosecuted.  A plea deal down to a misdemeanor is as damaging politically as a felony conviction.  Biden and Schumer will soon be entering the Presidential sweepstakes.  

“Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward; they may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.” (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

Update:  8-11-15 @ noon:  Another Iowa caucus poll was just released and was in the field one day longer which showed an expected result-  The reaction from the debate appears to be confirming as discussed in the original post but the reactions are more muted and Rubio should be listed as a “winner.”  Further, the “Bubble” I discuss may be on the verge of disappearing.  Fiorina moves into the top tier debate and Christie falls back.

Additionally, there are two other pieces of news today that may be illuminating.

  1. Rick Perry has run out of cash and has asked his paid South Carolina staff to become volunteers.  Because he has concentrated this in the 3rd state (after Iowa and New Hampshire), it tells me he is hopeful to turn things around and/or he has decided to stay in the race as an “issues candidate” (see below) and that issue might just be Donald Trump.
  2. Rand Paul has decided to strike out at Donald Trump.  After Bush, Paul may have the strongest/smartest campaign team, he has plenty of money, and is likely spending money on polling/focus groups so this is not likely an action of desperation.  It has a purpose but I’m not sure what it is.  Veep Cred?  Believe Trump supporters would otherwise support him as “another kind of Republican?”  Precursor to choosing to run for re-election for US Senate and not wanting Trump at the top of the ticket?

I want to stress the following:

  1.  I don’t think any of this is predictive of who will be the nominee or who will still be viable once the elections start.  However, those in the bottom tier may have only one more chance to break-out and they may have to do it in the next debate.  
  2. In my mind, the value is what will happen with undecideds and to the support for the bottom 7-10 candidates when they disappear over the next 6 months.  This is roughly 30% of the primary voter population.  The candidates who pick up chunks of this will find higher viability via fundraising and ability to attract organization for when the elections start.
  3. This is Iowa and not the nation as a whole.   My main point was to attempt to assess movement and reaction to the debate as well as try to discern strength/weaknesses and future direction/discern of the individual campaigns.

However, this poll gave some interesting new information:

  1. Top 5 candidates as 2nd choice after their first choice (in order):  Carson (12%), Rubio (12%), Cruz (11%), Walker (10%), Fiorina (9%).  Personally, until and through the Iowa Caucus & New Hampshire primary, I think this is a critical component of staying in the field as it winnows down.
  2. Top 5 candidates with a favorable impression (in order):  Carson (78%), Walker (73%), Rubio (72%), Fiorina (70%), Huckabee (69%).  Lowest is Cristie (37%)
  3. Top 5 candidates with an unfavorable impression (in order):  Christie (43%), Paul (41%), Trump (37%), Bush (36%), Huckabee (19%).  Lowest is Carson (7%).
  4. Of those who watched the debate second debate (Fiorina got 83% in the first debate), Top 5 who made a favorable impression (in order):  Rubio (23%), Carson (22%), Cruz (11%), Trump (11%), Kasich (8%)
  5. And, finally, after watching the debate two Trump impressions:  56% are less comfortable with Trump as a candidate and 32% think Trump doesn’t show appropriate respect for women.

Original post:  At this stage of a campaign, I don’t put any stock in polling with regard to predicting who the nominee might be.  There are way too many variables, especially when you consider the current size of the field.  Too much can happen plus we don’t really know the voter’s second and third choices which is relevant as first choices fall out.  In a few months, the most relevant polling information will be candidate’s favorable/unfavorable numbers.  A candidate has negatives above a certain level is not longer viable (too unlikeable-think Gingrich). Similarly, a candidate who can’t stimulate a favorable number above a certain level is not going to be viable (not likable- think John Edwards).

However, I do think where polls are informative at this stage is they give understanding about what is moving people’s impression at particular stages of a campaign.  Most recently, we had a debate which was watched by a record number of viewers.  And, today we got the first post-debate scientific poll  measuring a highly informed group of voters (Iowa Republican caucus goers).  Yes, they are generally considered more conservative than the average Republican primary and general voter.  However, they are those most likely to be monitoring current developments and how they move can be a glimpse into what is happening or will happen in the general public.

So, comparing it to a similar poll of the same voters, what happened from before the debate and after the debate?

Apparent “winners;”     Fiorina (+7%), Trump (+6%), Bush (+5%), Carson (+5%), Cruz (+2%)

Apparent “losers:”       Walker (-10%), Jindal (-2%), Paul (-2%)- Editorial comment-  Walker might not really be a “loser” as his number settled to a level comparable to his national numbers.

Everybody else:          Between +1% and -1% which is really no movement.  Maybe a case can be made that no movement is a move backwards but, at this stage, I think treading water keeps them in the game unless they are near the bottom.

If these numbers extrapolate to the nation at large in national polls:

Practical Impact #1 for the CNN debate on September 16:

In top 10:  Bush, Carson, Cruz, Fiorina, Huckabee, Rubio, Trump and Walker

Bubble:    Christie, Kasich, Paul, Perry (two will make it, two will not)

The debates after the the CNN debate have not announced the selection criteria yet.  Thus, we don’t know whether the debates will have all remaining candidates or will have a limit on the number of candidates.   If the debates are limited to 7-10 candidates on the podium, I suspect we might see more fireworks with the lower tier candidates trying to stand-out.

Practical Impact #2 on fundraising:  Florina has reported a big spike in fundraising.  Cruz and Bush are rumored to have had a good weekend.  Graham, Jindal, Pataki & Santorum are likely going to see raising money very difficult.  Unless they are the break-out candidate (ala Fiorina) in the next debate, their reason for remaining in the race is down to two purposes:

  1. Be a “happy camper” and hope to be selected as Veep (ala Biden in 2008)
  2. Be an issue candidate hoping to frame an issue in the minds of voters (ala Gene McCarthy in 1968)

Practical Impact #3 on strategy:  

  1. Bush, Carson, Cruz, Huckabee, Rubio & Walker (assuming Walker’s support nationally doesn’t drop as it appears to have done in Iowa) are likely to continue to do what they have been doing.  They don’t have to be aggressive or throw any bombs.  They should just keep raising money and meeting with voters in low-volatile formats with an occasional policy speech or announcement to add to their gravitas.
  2. Fiorina is hot right now and needs to try to get one more bump to firmly get herself in list above.  Candidates who get hot risk flaming out.  If I were her, I’d maximize fundraising as money presents viability and hammer exclusively on Clinton to engender greater bona fides as a politico.
  3. Trump is rumored to be considering making a pledge to not run as an Independent and to support the GOP nominee.  While it might not be politically critical (I think it is) at this stage of the election, it will become practically critical prior to state primaries because the national and state parties will not make available voter lists and other data available to a candidate who hasn’t made such a pledge.  Additionally he needs to find a way to make amends with women, he might be able to reverse his current high unfavorable rating where he only trails Graham (40%) and Christie (36%) with 35% of the GOP primary voters having an unfavorable opinion of him.    Finally, with the exception of building a wall on our southern border, Trump has been high on rhetoric and low on policy.  At minimum, he should unveil 2 or 3 policy specifics.
  4. Bubble candidates have two choices:  Throw bombs and hope to move up while risking they blow themselves up.  Christie and Paul appear to pursing this strategy.  Or, do as Floriina did-  steadily and seriously talk about issues with voters and hone their message.  Perry and Kasich appear to moving in this direction.
  5. Bottom tier candidates have one realistic hope- be the next Fiorina in the CNN September debate.

Practical Impact #4 on organizational emphasis:  You might be wondering how the Fox debate influences organization priorities?  The top candidates (poll standing or money) have the luxury of looking forward to the blocking and tackling of preparation to an actual Election Day.  By the time the campaign moves to South Carolina, it is likely the field will be reduced to only 4-5 candidates at most.  Right now, NO CANDIDATE is assured of being in the top 5 after New Hampshire and there will be only one winner in Iowa.

  1. Iowa:  This state is famous for picking candidates who disregard perceptions of national viability or conventional wisdom (Santorum in 2012 or Huckabee in 2008) or are regional favorites (Dole in 1988 and 1996).  This state is ripe for someone to make a statement and catapult up in standing.  This is where Cruz, Rubio, and Walker can shine.  Trump and Fiorina have real problem here because of its intense retail politics, with which they have little experience.  Nobody has ever won here without being excellent retail politicians.
  2. New Hampshire:    Because this is almost a home state for the Bush family and they have most of the political leaders in their camp, this is a place where Bush must do reasonably well (yet currently is polling below his national standing) and someone can land a knock-out punch.  Carson, Paul and possibly Kasich can be that candidate as they appear to be polling well so far.  Trump also seems to have captured the imagination of NH voters above his national standing so he should attempt to build on his standing there.

“I will not pledge to support the Republican candidate for President” (Donald Trump)

I’m not surprised.  He once supported single payer health insurance, Hillary Clinton and the right to abortion.

Update:  9:19-  I think all the Republicans on stage (Trump is no longer a Republican in my eyes) have been impressive.  They have taken tough questions and answered them with conviction and coherence.  I gained some insight in the appeal of Ben Carson. I’m proud to be a Republican tonight.

“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.” (Albert Einstein)

Thursday night is the first debate of the 2016 Presidential Primary. As we all know, Trump has vaulted to the top of the polls since announcing (around 25%). As background of the current situation on the primary dynamics, I think there is merit in seeing who Trumps rapid rise came from by comparing the FoxNews poll before Trump announced (6-2-15) and the most recent poll (8-2-15).

Trump: +22%
Walker: -3%
Carson: -4%
Cruz: -2%
Rubio: -2%
Paul: -4%
Christie: -2%
Perry: -3%
Graham: -2%

The candidates who seem to be unaffected by Trump are:

Bush: +3%
Kasich: +1%
Huckabee, Santorum, Jindal, Fiorina: 0%

What does this mean:

1) It establishes a benchmark on movement from the upcoming debates.

2) It identifies the bottom tier candidates who have to show some movement or they will have trouble with money and attracting organization. Bottom tier as measured with current support @ 3% or below: Christie, Kasich, Perry, Santorum, Jindal, Fiorina, Graham. Including undecided, this bottom-tier represents 21% of the GOP primary voters.

3) I said a few months ago that I wouldn’t start paying attention until the top three candidates exceed 50%. Right now, FoxNews has Trump, Bush, & Walker at 50% and the average of recent polls these three are @ 45%. If after this debate, support for the bottom tier drifts to the top three, we might hit that 50% much sooner than I expected. If that occurs, I suspect the bottom tier will quickly fade/disappear and it will be most interesting to see where their supporters will gravitate.  When a candidate gets to 40%, they start winning individual state primaries at a faster clip than anyone else and start racking up delegate votes.

4) It gives an indication of the candidates (those who declined) who during the last two months didn’t have messages that added support, who currently have soft support, and who may be at risk of falling away sooner than later.

5) It is doubtful ANYONE will “win” the Fox Debate in any way that will be long-lasting but MANY can lose it (ala Perry, Bachman, Gingrich, Huntsman in the last cycle’s Fox Debate in Sioux City).

6) #5 aside, there can be winners who get “gravitas bumps.” Fiorina, Carson, & Trump as the “non-politicos.” Paul, Kasich, & Jindal as the intellectual policy wonks. Walker & Cruz as the biggest contrasts to Obama within the “politicos.”

7) What is the impact of the bottom tier debate (Santorum, Jindal, Fiorina, Graham, Pataki and Perry)? Will it have enough viewership? Does the smaller quantity on the debate panel give them a better opportunity to shine?

8) Who gains by Trump leading in the polls? I think Bush and Walker because nobody will focus on attacking them.  Bush and Walker just need to not get injured and wait until the field is winnowed down as they need others support to drift to them.

9) Debate dynamics. It will be interesting to see if one person focuses on Trump (ala Gingrich’s focus on Romney), if the preponderance of candidates do (ala the 1980 New Hampshire debate against Reagan), or if they ignore him or just roll their eyes at him (ala the Democrats and John Edwards). Watch Perry who seems the most opposed to Trump’s presence to be most likely to focus on Trump.

10) Look ahead to the General Election. In 2012, Republican debate participants made a lot of assertions why they would be best to run against Obama. Will they do the same with regard to Clinton? Or will they ignore her thinking she is not going to be the nominee because of her current problems?

11)  Who has the most to lose (besides leader Trump)?

  • Huckabee & Santorum because they have “been there done that.”
  • Senate Quad (Cruz, Rubio, Paul, Graham) because neither distancing themselves or embracing their colleagues/body will net gains and potentially more to lose, making the line for them to walk quite treacherous.
  • Governors not named Walker (Christie, Kasich, Perry, Jindal) because they have to first stand-out among themselves before worrying about Walker which is again a treacherous walk.
  • Fiorina as the only woman.  If she can’t get a bump here, will she ever?
  • See #8.   Playing it too safe can be Bush’s & Walker’s undoing.

12)  Wildcard Issue which can impact the debate by making a candidate stand-out as “Presidential:”  Iran Nuclear Deal.  More than Obamacare, defunding Planned Parenthood, deficit/budget, or economy, I think this issue has the most potential to capture new support.

13)  To be in the “Top 10,” FoxNews went down to 3% support in the polls.  I think the next threshold will be 8-9% to be in the new threshold of “Top 7 or 8” which puts Cruz, Rubio & Paul on the bubble.  I’m thinking Rubio & Paul are most likely to pull the trigger and drop out if they don’t get a bump because they are also up for re-election to the Senate.

14)  Final comments:  Carson, Cruz, Perry, Santorum, & Fiorina will stick around through Iowa & New Hampshire because they have no downside in staying in not matter what.  Kasich, Jindal, & Graham lose standing if they ride the horse with little chance of succeeding.

Sidenote: I selected FoxNews as a baseline because they are most likely to have a poll hitting the streets upon conclusion of the debates as they are the hosts. And, more importantly, methodologies of the polls are the same taking out as variables underlying assumptions of turn-out so to some degree we are comparing apples to apples.

“Baby, do you dare to do this? ‘Cause I’m coming at you like a dark horse.” (Katy Perry)

I still believe the Republican Presidential Primary is a race between Jeb Bush and . . . . .  (with my gut telling me the “and” is Rand Paul) and the General Election will be against Hillary Clinton.

However, three things recently happened which might give us a new “and-”  Carly Fiorina:

1)  MSNBC limosine liberal Andrea Mitchell and Hillary sycophant thinks she has a gotcha question for Fiorina regarding Iraq and Carly turns it around and says “every single Republican candidate has been asked about their vote for the war in Iraq. The one person who’s not been asked  that question, because she won’t answer the question is Hillary Clinton. One person who was on the job in 2011, when Iraq started to fall apart, was not the Republican nominees or — candidates for president, it’s Hillary Clinton. she hasn’t been asked yet. What would she do now in Iraq?”  Reminded me of Reagan’s take-off on Teddy Roosevelt when he said about Iran and the hostages, “(Carter) speaks loudly and carries a fly swatter.”

2)  As we all know, Hillary Clinton has become infamous for not taking questions from the press.  Anyway, Hillary is hosting a roundtable OBSERVABLE by the press in a South Carolina hotel.  Florina decides to have a press conference in the same hotel on the same day where Florina will actually take questions from the press.  Reminded me when Reagan took his anti-Communism to the Berlin Wall and dared Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.”

3)  Not only was Carly given the biggest kudos for a recent Iowa Lincoln Day Dinner (11 GOP presidential candidates were there), she didn’t pretend to be “Iowan” as she found it remarkable breakfast in Iowa was “huge cinnamon rolls” or going to a Pizza Ranch (she called it “Pizza Palace”).  Reminds me of when Reagan was asked what he thought about Clint Eastwood running for Mayor and said “What makes him think a middle-aged actor who played with a chimp could have a future in politics.”

Few people can use pointed rhetoric, take the fight to their opponent, and remain personally humble.  Might the dark horse to take on a former Secretary of State be a former Kelly Girl secretary?

Sidenote-  Current Vegas odds on the next US President (different sites have slightly different numbers):

1/1 (even odds)-Hillary Clinton, 4/1-Jeb Bush, 7/1-Scott Walker, 8/1-Marco Rubio, 16/1-Rand Paul, 33/1-Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, Mitt Romney, Joe Biden, 66/1-Carly Fiorina, Rahm Emmanuel.

Update:  Former Governor of NY, George somebody just announced.  He is definitely a guy looking to be Veep or in the cabinet.  Traction out of the NE is definitely not likely and puts a damper on Christie.  

Patrick Duffy, RIP

I have just read that Rapid City lawyer and native of Ft. Pierre has died.

For many, Pat is known as a partisan Democrat and an aggressive attorney.  I know him as a high school basketball player (least talented player in his family but better than most), a member of a close-knit clan, and a man of faith and reflection.  To say I knew him well by many interaction would be inaccurate.  I knew him well because he did his best to live the values instilled in him by his family and his Faith.

As you know, I have written many pieces when people die and often with regret I didn’t say something to them before they die.  I don’t have that regret with Pat.  He is a Duffy.  He said what was on his mind.  He expected the same.  He gave respect to others even if they didn’t give it back.

Pat, the world has been made better because you were in it.  Forgive me for not being able to give you a more expansive eulogy but I have a golf tourney and tee off shortly.  As an Irishman, you understand.  🙂

By the Mercy of God, may you Rest in Peace.