“I’m not lost for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” (Winnie the Pooh)

This is a the beginning of a Presidential campaign without precedent in my life.  The Democrats are offering a person being investigated by the FBI for national security violations, an avowed Socialist and a person contemplating his third or fourth run for the White House.  On the other hand, the GOP has three candidates who have never held elective office currently being supported by over 50% of Republican primary voters, a son and brother of former Presidents, two Cuban-American Senators, and a covey of guys with great resumes unable to register in most polls (two of whom have won the Iowa caucus).

In one week, we have the last of the likely “cattle call” Republican debates, the CNBC debate in Boulder focusing on foreign policy.   The next sponsors (Fox Business/Wall Street Journal & CNN) haven’t released any details on their debate’s format, length and criteria for participation. I suspect both debate sponsors desire a smaller number of participants (like 5 or 6) but are hoping people drop out so they don’t have to make the tough decision to set a realistic criteria of viability.

The Top-tier candidates are Trump (26.2% Real Clear Politics poll average) & Carson (21.2%). These campaigns are starting to flex some muscles. Like traditional poll leaders who avoid or minimize debates, they issued a joint letter threatening not to participate unless the debate was 2 hours long including commercials (leaving effectively 90 minutes for debate). Frankly, it is too early to go into a prevent defense. These candidates are hot. Hot batters don’t ask for shorter games. Point: It looks like Trump and Carson are starting to think they might actually get the nomination.

Bottom Tier candidates . The first choice and second choice level of support for Kasich, Santorum, Graham, Gilmore, Jindal & Pataki does not add up to the first choice of those in the mid-tier. Additionally, none of them have a combination of 1st & 2nd choice above 5%. Unless something big happens soon for Paul, Christie & Huckabee (collective support is 10%), there is no compelling reason for them either to remain in the race. Point: Taking up space is not an accomplishment.

Mid-tier candidates. Bush (1st & 2nd Choice 18%, $10mm Cash on Hand), Cruz (12%, $13mm), Fiorina (10%, $5.5mm) & Rubio (18%, $11mm) have both the money and a base of support to build upon and attempt to attract support from others. Point: Do not panic. Slippage by Trump & Carson plus the support by those who drop off can change someone’s fortunes.

What has happened since August 7th (right before the Fox debate).

  • Carson: Up 15.4% (Up 9.7% in Iowa & 6.5% in New Hampshire
  • Fiorina: Up 4.6% (up 10% in Iowa & 10% in New Hampshire)
  • Rubio:   Up 3.5% (up 4.3% in Iowa & 4.8% in New Hampshire)
  • Cruz: Up 2.9% (up 2.6% in Iowa & 4% in New Hampshire)
  • Trump: Up 1.9% (up 2% in Iowa & 2% in New Hampshire)
  • Bush: Down 5.5% (down 4.5% in Iowa & 2% in New Hampshire)
  • Bottom Tier candidates: Down 9.5%
  • Walker & Perry: Down 12.5%

Point: 27% of support has been in play (from bottom-tier candidates, Bush, Walker & Perry. 60% of it went to Carson.  If momentum means anything at this stage, only one guy has it.

Current Head-to-Head General Election Matchups (Biden beats all GOP candidates, Sanders loses to all but Trump) :

  • Carson-Clinton: Carson by 4.8%
  • Bush-Clinton: Bush by 1.6%
  • Fiorina-Clinton: Fiorina by 1.0%
  • Rubio-Clinton: Clinton by 1.3%
  • Trump-Clinton: Clinton by 2.5%.
  • Cruz-Clinton: Clinton by 7.7%

Point: This is just a baseline to watch as the campaign progresses and probably increases the odds Biden stays out.

 Random Commentary:

Trump & Carson: Trump is loud and brash but has been more measured and thoughtful lately. Carson is quiet, calm and thoughtful but has been more visceral lately. Neither have records so will we demand greater detail from them or will we just allow them to give us platitudes and bromides? As candidates drop out, will they gain additional support or have they hit their respective peaks?

Bush & Rubio: Is there room for two big fishes from Florida? You are now essentially tied. Who will blink first?

Cruz & Fiorina: Is your only hope Trump & Carson fade? Who has the better strategy- Cruz playing nice with Trump or Fiorina taking the fight to the Manhattan mogul? In either case, neither of you have earned any free media since the last debate. Out of sight, out of mind.

Paul, Christie & Huckabee: Time and money is running short. The upcoming CNBC debate is likely your last realistic opportunity for your campaigns running on fumes. Is there even enough fuel to light a spark or are your campaigns dead and you just don’t know it?

Kasich: Whether you are prepared to admit it or not, you are in the bottom tier with Santorum, Graham, Gilmore, Jindal, & Pataki. Whatever path to the nomination when you saw when you announced is likely covered from a mudslide from your answer on the Iran nuclear deal. Scott Walker went back to Wisconsin. Time for you to go back to Ohio.

Actual Betting odds (betfair.com) on winners of the GOP nomination:

  1. Rubio: 3.5/1 (29%)
  2. Bush: 4.2/1 (24%)
  3. Trump: 7.2/1 (14%)
  4. Carson: 12/1 (8%)
  5. Cruz: 16/1 (6%)
  6. Fiorina: 18.5/1 (5%)
  7. Christie 25/1 (4%)
  8. Huckabee: 32/1 (3%)
  9. Kasich: 34/1 (3%)
  10. Other/Rest of the Field: 50/1 (2%)
  11. Paul: 80/1 (1%)

Point: It is my observation betters are better at predicting the future than people who write and read blogs. That said, if I was going with the “smart money,” I like Rubio’s odds better than Bush’s.  If I were going to bet on a long-shot, I’d go with Fiorina.  

Two other parting comments:

  1. I think Trump’s ultimate and best play is broker at the convention.  Because Trump has seemed to settle in at 25% support (and appears to have the lowest ceiling based on his Net Favorable/Unfavorable, winning is less likely in a small field.  However, until the field winnows, he is going to win delegates.
  2. I think Carson’s best play is to endorse someone with the expectation to be Vice-President.    Carson has the highest Favorable and Net Favorable/Unfavorable in the field.  There is probably nobody who could change the dynamic more than Carson.  Plus, it would allay any potential concerns whether his prior experience is sufficient to be President of the United States.


19 thoughts on ““I’m not lost for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” (Winnie the Pooh)”

  1. You shouldn’t be surprised Troy. That is the state of politics in this once great country. You helped to elect a US Senator who was under investigation by the Feds, and may possibly getting ready to resign his seat as the investigation finally comes to a head.

    1. Lanny that is another Krazy Larry anti-social/angry/drug infused conspiracy theory. You don’t regard the National Enquirer or Star Magazine as real news do you?

  2. In the last debate, Hillary Clinton is asked to name her enemy and she doesn’t say ISIS but “Republicans.”

    Today, Joe Biden says “Republicans aren’t our enemy. They are our opposition.”

    Finally, Biden’s speech announcing he isn’t running sounds like an announcement speech. He was on the verge of declaring and just changed the introduction.

    P.S. I believe his rationale for not running was primarily driven by not being able to run in light of the grief being experienced by he and his family.

    1. Biden is right on all counts. He knows what it would take to win in the current political climate, and doesn’t want to do it. Not to Hillary or Bernie, and not to whichever Republican rises to the top. Good call, Joe. I think Boehner did something similar by resigning. I think Paul Ryan is starting to sing that song too. Sometimes the best way to win is to refuse to play the game. US politics needs a good detox. 🙂

  3. Sanders the kids go to college free and he would vote for weed. Wow! I can see the kids going to college forever not wanting to ever grow up.

    1. I didn’t see the original comment by Per Curiam, but I saw Spencer Cody’s at 4:37, and Troy’s censorship of that one is more than just heavy-handed. It’s obnoxious.

      Never, never comment on a Troy Jones post under your real name. There’s no telling how it’s going to look when he’s done editing out your opinions and editing in his own.

      First, if Spenser wants his entire post deleted, I will do it. Second, my thread. My rules. I’d prefer if you didn’t post.

      1. Original comments – or any comments for that matter – from Per Crapium are nothing more than full-out crazy flamings.

        What happened to Andrew Shear? He became Julie Gross (NE) – one of the craziest critters ever to defile this site.

        Then Julie was gone for a while – maybe a 90 – 120 day sentence. Hard to say.

        But Julie Gross (NE) then became Per Curium – or Per Crapium. Still the crazy comments, trolling and other rude behavior.

        Per Crapium is really a version of a socially-unacceptable sophomore standing on the outside of any group in his high school, shouting and acting stupid to get the attention of the others.

        Sad, really. But hey, that’s the entire history of Shear/Gross(NE)/Per Crapium.

  4. Please no more establishment people, I am looking at you Clinton and Bush. We don’t need another Bush or Clinton. Bush and Clinton will just be the same old trick and pony show as before. I won’t vote for a Bush or Clinton again, which means I might be staying home this season.

    Trump has a lot of appeal even if it is all show, it is convincing, especially not taking money from BIG special interests and actually wanting to do something about them. I actually like the “Bern” more than Bush or Clinton, even if he is more left, because he actually wants to change the special interests, income inequality in this country and doesn’t take special interest money.

    My wishful party nomination: Trump/Norris (as in Chuck Norris, bringing the celebrity to DC)

  5. I am starting to think Bush is in a lot of trouble. His campaign is burning through a ton of cash ever day and not replacing it at a sufficient pace, and as soon as he starts to cut any of the spending and staff, there will be all kinds of talk about his failed bid which will feed on itself until he exits. Unfortunately, the Democrat primary has just become an unentertaining route for Hillary. As with the GOP, I would only say Rubio if I was forced to. Why Trump and Carson have not flamed out yet, I do not know.

  6. Troy, you padded Jeb’s numbers by aggregating his 1st & 2nd choice rankings. You didn’t do that for any other candidate. Why?

    John, in that section, I did that for all the mid tier candidates as it is about low-hanging potential on two fronts. First, as candidates drop out they have opportunity to grow. Plus, at this stage, support is usually soft as people are considering multiple candidates and usually the difference between first choice and second choice is small. If Trump or Carson don’t stumble, it won’t matter. If they do, these are the candidates who will move up. Troy

    1. Thanks for the clarification, Troy. Since you only specifically stated Bush’s numbers as including both first and second choices, I concluded you had not done so on the others.

      No problem. I’m not very good at knowing when to cut out words for brevity or include words for clarity. I’m sure there are other confusing points in the post. Troy

  7. Polls across the country indicate a domination by Trump that has never been equaled, says Nicolle Wallace, W’s communications director.

  8. Spencer,

    I hear you. On a lot of days I think the same thing with regard to Bush. But, each time, I step back and remind myself:

    1) At this stage ALL the candidates support is relatively soft except for the small percentage of voters who live and breath politics.

    2) Almost 50% if the GOP primary voter selecting Trump or Carson (who are unproven and may stumble), if they stumble, that is a lot of voters looking for a candidate.

    3) The real primary campaign has not even started. Except for Fiorina, all the mid-tier candidates know how to build organizations and will do so in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. In a large field, organization can incrementally be huge.

    4) Negative ads by both independent groups and candidates themselves are going to be launched. Club for Growth is preparing to have a significant buy in Iowa and New Hampshire specifically targeting the economic policies of Trump. And, with Trump and Carson being clearly at the top, the mid-tier candidates are going to be significantly less targeted. Trump and Carson are unproven on with regard how they will handle an onslaught they have never before experienced. All of the mid-tier candidates have been there.

    5) Take Iowa for instance. Trump and Carson are both at roughly 20% with the other mid-tier candidates in high single digits. Over the next few months, a drop of 5% (conceivable as support is soft) could make them both finishing outside the top 2. This will be seen as a big loss and how will they react to the air coming out of the balloon?

    Now, and back to your original point, of the mid-tier candidates, I think Bush has the highest mountain to climb. Less on the merits of his position on the issues but how he let himself be defined by others. Seriously, how can what is arguably the Governor who actually advanced conservative reform with regard to spending, taxes, and Pro-Life issues in Florida be seen as a moderate? I’m flummoxed at his campaign allowing this to happen. That said, it is nothing that smart messaging, hard work and focused campaigning can’t repair. The question is whether he can make it happen. Like you, I wonder but if he does it, the narrative will be a lot different with regard to his prospects.

    One more thing. Bill Kristol said yesterday his prediction is a Rubio-Fiorina ticket. Personally, I think the reverse is more likely because I think she is more likely to benefit from a late Trump/Carson stumble. However, if they stumble early, Kristol is more likely to be right.

    1. Yes, Kristol’s ticket either way would be a dream team. Clinton and the Democrats would be coughing up states that we would not normally win under usual circumstances. I see Jeb’s odds on predictwise have steadily fallen. I think a lot this has to do with playing his brother, which is an obvious sign of desperation. I think the biggest and potentially the worst consequence to ultimately come from the Biden decision is that Trump or Carson may win the nomination because they could potentially beat someone as loathed as Hillary. It may be another situation in the general where the perfect ad or pitch like Hillary’s 3 AM call does not matter since she, again, is so intently disliked and mistrusted the public goes with the clearly less experienced and qualified candidate.

  9. Carson tops Trump In Iowa, 28-20, in latest Qunnippiac Poll.

    This poll is also bad news for Jeb Bush as the Right to Rise PAC spent $6 million on television advertising in Iowa beginning in mid-September, and so far, Bush hasn’t seen much impact in his poll numbers.

    Trump tops the “no way” list as 30 percent of Iowa likely Republican Caucus participants say they “would definitely not support” him for the GOP nomination. Bush is next on this “no way” list with 21 percent.

    Iowa likely Republican Caucus-goers give Carson an 84 – 10 percent favorability rating, leading Rubio at 70 – 15 percent, Cruz at 65 – 18 percent and Trump at 53 – 43 percent. Bush has a negative 43 – 51 percent.

    I suspect Rubio, Cruz or Fiorina, are the second choices for both Trump or Carson voters.

    “Those who know Carson seem to like him. He has an almost unheard of 84 – 10 percent favorability rating among likely Republican Caucus-goers, compared to Trump’s 53 – 43 percent rating. To borrow the line from Madison Avenue, ‘Almost no one doesn’t like Ben Carson.’”

  10. Bill,

    I agree that was not good news. At the same time, just as support is soft at this stage, so is favorable/unfavorable. To turn around Bush’s Net Favorable/Unfavorable is not impossible. But it won’t be easy.

    That said, the Iowa “hill” for Bush is a lot higher than in New Hampshire or South Caroliina.

  11. Troy,

    I think Jeb’s greatest strength, is also his deepest weakness.

    His last name is Bush, and for many GOP members and GOP leaning independents, that’s enough to diminish any enthusiasm for his candidacy.

    For that reason alone, even if he’s successful in winning the nomination, he may be unable to produce the turnout needed to win the general election.

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