“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.  

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

  1. Chaos favors Bush. The more consolidated the field becomes, the less likely he is going to win. In the end I don’t think it is really going to matter who gets hot or not at the right time, I see Bush slogging it out. The big caveat in all of this is how big of a glass jaw does Jeb have? When the alternative or alternatives to Jeb materialize, can he handle the personal attacks? This why we have primaries. If the answer is yes, he deserves the nomination and will survive. If the answer is no, he will rightly drop out.

    1. I think anyone other than Bush. He is establishment pick, and we have tried that twice and lost both times. We need a fresh face, new ideas, and someone other than the dynastic families of Bush and Clinton.

    2. If the GOP nominee is a Bush I see a third party candidate on the right. If the Democrat nominee is a Clinton I see a candidate running on the left such as Bernie Sanders.

      Bush vs Clinton vs Trump vs Sanders would equal an opportune time for Mike Bloomberg. My predictions are that we have 5 candidates run on major platforms and one of them is a socialist activist and the others are two billionaires.

  2. Your points about Rubio being out of it and running for reelection and Schumer entering the POTUS race are so off-base that I have a hard time giving any of the rest of it credibility.

    1. maybe he means amy schumer. just kidding. though she’d be better than hillary, as would millions of americans both living and dead.

  3. Troy, do you ever think about writing a post about Handicapping the 2018 GOP Governor primary and whether or not SHS will run on the dem side?

  4. SDGOPer,

    I don’t think Rubio is out. He is in my top three choices. That comment presumes a crowded field and he hasn’t risen to the top whereby he decides to run for reelection and wait eight years to run.

    Regarding Schumer, I am asserting who they might turn to if Clinton’s emails are her Waterloo as I don’t believe any of the current Dem candidates are remotely viable. Do you have another guess?

    Spencer, I agree that is Bush’s path to the nomination.

    Springer, prognosticating as Spencer is doing doesn’t mean that is his desired outcome. Or it might. The variables in this race will play out in ways hard to discern outcome. That is the essence of what I am doing. Read this article and guess who my top three are with regard to debate performance and top three choices are (I am spotting you Rubio even though SDGOPer thought I thought he was through). We can see how much my bias came through.

    Anonymous, it is hard enough to handicap the GOP Presidential race six months before the primary vote much less three years before the Governor primary. Regarding Herseth, the fact she is who we talk about is a parallel to the Dems problem at the national level- they have a thin bench. That said, I don’t really care if she runs as she won’t win.

    Update: There are 4 or 5 articles this morning trying to discern the five most plausible candidates to ultimately get the nomination. All of the articles/prognosticators consistently include Bush, Cruz, Rubio, and Walker. In all cases, they use (consciously or unconsciously) a thought process incorporating what is known as “game theory” where they go through a bunch of what if’s, discern the outcome of that, create new “what if’s” and go down the list until they reach a conclusion or conclusions. In all the articles, the critical “eliminator” of the others- organization to win individual primaries which is necessary to procure delegates who actually select the nominee. Even if any of the others win in Iowa or New Hampshire, they will have no ground infrastructure to win the slurry of upcoming primaries. They basically compared (my analogy) all the other to a baseball club that assembled a great team and then got to the game without bats, balls and gloves thinking the other team was going to share.

    1. I don’t think Schumer, I think Joe B. Hillary gets emailgated into the dust like you say. Bernie can’t get beyond his 25% progressive wing support. A traditional, blue-collar Dem that the left doesn’t hate as much as they hate Hillary can run the table and Biden’s “I rode the train every day” persona and narrative lends itself to a late entry better than Schumer’s lesser known background. I don’t think he tries for NH, but, what’s the filing deadline for South Carolina?

      MHS, “emailgated” is very creative for you. I think Joe has to get into NH if he thinks it can stop the Bernie train. Allowing this to get down the tracks will enrage his supporters when it fails. Same tightrope the GOP has with Trump. Fortunately, we have a plethora of strong candidates that are going to do that at the ballot box vs. having it done because a “savior” is brought in.

  5. Its time for Senators Rand and Cruz to return their focus to their responsibilities in Washington. There are about 7 or 8 of the candidates that just haven’t read the memo yet, that they got, that they are not catching the fire they need. To make it to that list is impressive, accepting that you aren’t near the top of the list has to be very difficult – when you’ve made the commitment and taken the steps be that close.

    1. You would think a supposed conservative would be overjoyed to have an actual Constitutional Conservative of Sen. Cruz’s caliber to support in the GOP primary..

      Maybe the gleeful talk of raising taxes on South Dakota’s summer guests (taxation without representation?), indicates someone’s actual “true North” political leanings?

  6. Anonymous 10:00 a.m.

    I agree with you the memo hasn’t been sent to Paul or Cruz. Cruz especially has done well the last months managing his favorable/unfavorable ratio. He has been able to make small gains in support (but meaningful when the field is so large) while improving his fav/unfav ratio (an under appreciated measure at this stage of campaigns) which is why I put him in the group who needs to stay the course. For reasons I can’t figure out is while improving the fav/unfav ratio, Cruz seems to have been stagnant to slightly negative on being voters 2nd choice candidate (a measure he seems to losing out to candidates who have lower name ID). My best guess is he hasn’t been on the stage as long and voters are reticent to move off who they know/support to someone who is new. Paul hasn’t done any of this as well which is why the memo might get sent earlier to him. Paul needs to step it up to stay in the race.

    That said, EVERY candidate needs to have a set of goals and measures under which they will pull the plug (it will be concurrent with them getting the memo). I think Cruz has a longer time horizon and can tolerate more gradual goals because unlike Rubio and Paul, he doesn’t stand for Senate re-election in 2016. But, IF it occurs, hanging around and blowing money diminishes the candidate long-term. Here is where I agree with Lee- Pulling the plug will be very difficult because it will feel like giving up instead of what it really is, living to fight another day.

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