“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.

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

  1. Carson’s comments about the possibility of a muslim president are hopefully the end of his campaign. What a tool.

    1. Carson gave a truthful answer. That’s better than “constitutional scholar” Ted Cruz, who apparently doesn’t understand that the religious test forbidden in the Constitution is a test applied by the government itself, not one applied by voters.

      1. The “religious test” of the US Constitution is not as you understand it.

        Please, go do some research before you apply your 21st century misunderstandings to 18th century ideas.

  2. Ironic note: perhaps Walker’s best chance at “leadership” right now might well be his showing Jindal, Petaki, Gilmore, Santorum, and a few others the dignified way to walk out the exit door. If the GOP is going to cure itself of its Trump infection, they’re going to have to thin the ranks so people can focus more on what’s being said and less on who’s the one saying it.

    1. Jindal dominated the second undercard debate even more thoroughly than Fiorina dominated the first, and the talking heads completely buried it. I’m not sure why.

  3. Nice piece of analysis, Troy. Even though you probably could talk a bit more in the future that each of the candidates want to create – just to match with your lead-in.

    Some of the numbers are relevant and others aren’t. Here is the number that counts the most right now:

    Donald Trump at 29% is leading all candidates and is the leader of the Republicans right now. The reason why is very simple. The highest percentage of Republicans agree with what how Trump thinks and what Trump says. You can throw as much Troy Jones bamboozlement at this statement as you want, but it still will not change that fact. You could throw 25,000 words at the fact, but it still will not change it.

    So let’s get to the point of your lead-in, so your post can’t be construed as a bait-and-switch tactic.

    What sort of future do the Republican candidates envision?I admit I am not proud of 29% of my party. But I would be ashamed of the 42% of your party who support a person who was reckless with national security so she didn’t have to carry two phones. And I won’t even mention the 24% who support the socialist. (Troy)

    1. Good point. For better or worse, Trump’s success right now is the product of sheer creative will. He found some secret GOP sauce and everyone else in the race is trying to figure out his recipe.

      1. trump’s numbers are high because he’s drawing the maximum vote he can attract with the red-meat crap he’s doing. NOTE that it’s a clear minority of the total republican party, so calling him “leader of the republican party” is inflammatory nonsense. trump’s numbers are STAYING high because nobody wants to out-do him at the red-meat tactic at which trump has hit the ceiling. they’re hoping after a few months of this trump sees that he clearly can’t win and cuts loose his voters to consider other options.

        1. Looks to me like ‘the maximimum vote he can attract’ is the number you get when you combine all the GOP insurgent candidates’ (Trump, Carson and Fiorina) poll numbers. That’s an anti-establishment majority. It’s inflamatory to be sure but its people setting their own house on fire.

          1. a lot of peoples numbers will go up as candidates exit. now the rounds race last year did illustrate that a candidate under 50 percent can certainly be the winner down the home stretch, and when candidates against rounds dropped out, rounds had as much as a bump as any of his opponents. trump has none of the built-in support that rounds enjoyed however. trump is more like a really tenacious stace nelson. trump’s negatives are still high and it’s unclear if he’ll attract the establishment voters if it gets down to trump vs one or two establishment choices.

            1. carson and fiorina added together outpoll trump. perhaps their joint attitude is where the majority of the party is. carson is traditional social conservative, and fiorina is traditional establishment centrist. calling trump the leader of the party at this point is kind of like declaring the winner of the indy 500 at lap 47.

              Enquirer, to further support your point: Here is the support candidates pick up as “2nd Choice.”

              Carson 19%, Rubio 13%, Fiorina & Bush 11%, Huckabee 8%, Trump 8%, Cruz 5%, Paul 3%, rest 1% or less. (Troy)

              1. Who do you think the learder of the party is? Perhaps Heisenberg’s point is that in a leaderless environment, it becomes a game of ‘king of the hill.’ I’ve been trying to imagine whether Trump would get as much traction in the Democratic party, and I really don’t think he would.

                Bill, I disagree with the premise. This is a campaign and we are still over four months from casting the first vote (in SD it is over nine months). One of the polls asked the question “might you yet change your preference” and over 70% said yes. Another poll asked how many Republicans were enthused with the quality of the field and that number was over 90% (Dems were under 50%). Nobody, including myself, has to make a decision yet, especially when in general the field is so attractive top to bottom (I mean “Next-to-top”).

                Additionally, and at least as relevant, with the exception of Trump and Bush, over 25% of the GOP votes don’t know enough to give a favorable or unfavorable opinion of the candidates. They just aren’t paying attention yet with the exception of Iowa and New Hampshire where they have been seeing the candidates up close and personal. Which leads to another bit of underlying data I didn’t discuss. With the exception of Trump and Bush, every other candidate’s support is higher in Iowa and New Hampshire which means Trump and Bush don’t appear to be attracting support from the “late deciders” when they are pushed to decide. Troy

                1. I don’t see how what you wrote there disputes my ‘leaderless’ premise, Troy. If anything, it supports it doesn’t it? Or are you saying they’re all leaders? (…in which case… Well, you know.)

                  Heisenberg’s premise is Trump’s support is somehow tells us something significant at this stage. That is the premise I reject. And, that then leads me to reject the premise it is a game of King of the Hill. (Troy)

                  1. Don’t you think it’s significant that all of the front runners are anti-establishment, Troy? Or is that just an early season ‘shiny object’ effect?

                    I don’t buy the establishment label. McCain wasn’t establishment but a maverick until he got nomination. Romney wasn’t establishment when he ran against McCain but was in 2012. This establishment just means they are winners. Meaningless label.

                2. well thanks for a lot of democrat wishful thinking about the pending demise of the republican party. you sound no different than the gleeful republicans in reagan’s second term, wondering about where to bury the democrat party’s carcass. there’s a massive block of quietly desperate republicans out there who have yet to speak about who they support, and rather than crazy iowa where the wheels always fall off, i think you can look for more telling trends in new hampshire. this process is anything but simplistic to read, anything but already over.

      2. “He found some secret GOP sauce”

        It’s no secret–he behaves like a Democrat bully, and when questioned by the media, refuses to apologize and attacks some more.

        He’ adopted the Democrat playbook of never apologize, never surrender.

        No secret there.

    2. Thanks for not making me read a 10,000 word treatise for your response. And just as I mention bait-and-switch, you try to change the subject.

      Just answer the question. What kind of future do the Republican candidates want to create? You brought it up to begin with. Check your post lead-in.

  4. I assume you mean my thread title by lead-in. I selected the quote because at the end of the day it is now up to the candidates to convince people leaning someplace else toto support them. They control their destiny and success or failure is theirs.

    Regarding my view of their collective vision, reverse the Obama debacle, a more peaceful world where America is respected, greater fiscal sanity, and greater freedom from governmental intrusion in the economy.

    1. Exactly Troy. In visiting with a few Dems on our GOP POTUS bench two things become pretty clear. They all think Jeb is 10 times smarter then his brother and would make a better Prez while Trump guarantees the next Prez is a Dem.
      And they like Rubio’s style. Small sampling but interesting.

  5. Bill,

    I am not so sure people are trying to find the formula for a rapid rise as it appears it also may be a formula for a flame-out.


    It Trump flames out, by your comments, may I assume you will then think more of the GOP and GOP voters?

  6. What kind of person says things like “hispanics love me”, “women love me”, “I am the greatest candidate in history”, “look at that face”, “she is disgusting” and “she’s fat”? On and on.

    And every question he gets is a “gotcha” question. (To him, they are.)

    Yet the polls tell us that more than half of Republicans approve of this guy? A quarter of you still support this junior high class narcissist for President?

    You gotta be shi**in me.

    Jimmy, I think everything needs to be considered with a long-view lens. Narcissists ALWAYS make the best first impressions and have the largest delta between first and second impressions. There is something in our nature which first draws us to the fire but when we get burned we move far away. Its just something in our nature. But, wisdom always prevails.

    1. i haven’t seen the poll where trump’s approval rating is over 50 percent. so that’s bogus. if jj has that poll he should post the link. don’t just take the difference between his approval rating and his disapproval rating, and add it to the ‘approval’ side.

      thankfully i see our president is above the 50 percent mark in all major polling. sadly, that number applies to his disapproval rating.

        1. Yup, by golly it is, Troy! Maybe together you and I can convince “enquirer” that Trump does indeed have a 50+% approval rating among Repubs. 🙂

          Bill, giving a “favorable rating” does not equate approval of their positions or an inclination to vote for them. They could like them or respect them for one aspect of their life. If I were asked if I have a favorable impression of Joe Biden, I’d say I do. Not because of his politics but his personal life and example. Thus, I agree with enquirer. (Troy)

  7. “What kind of person says things like “hispanics love me”, “women love me”, “I am the greatest candidate in history”, “look at that face”, “she is disgusting” and “she’s fat”? On and on. ”

    Barack Obama.

  8. You all know that none of these persons will be president, right? Our immigration policy ensured that we will not have a republican president for a long, long, long time and we can’t gerrymander our way into the White House like we’ve done at the statehouses. Sad, sad situation.

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