The primary season is up and running with Iowa now in the rear view mirror. On the Republican side, we get to find out who the arch-conservative, eventual primary loser will be. On the Democratic side, traditionally we do not learn much (for both of these claims, see Iowa as being a poor predictor in general). But are these truisms correct this cycle. Here are the facts:
Hillary Clinton edged out Bernie Sanders to win the Iowa Democratic Caucus. Good for her, right? Not so much. Hillary had a very large lead in Iowa for months, and Bernie Sanders was able to mobilize progressives, young voters, and neighboring state activists to saturate Iowa the last three weeks of the campaign. Winning by 0.3% in a non-winner-take-all-state is not much of a victory. The two candidates will leave with nearly the same amount of delegates, and come next week when Bernie wins New Hampshire, he will actually take the lead.
A few other takeaways:
-Shockingly, I will lead off with Martin O’Malley and this incredible feat: some people actually do like him! Instead of railing on his shockingly low support in Iowa, I will instead suggest he exceeded expectations by proving some people would choose him over the ethically questionable Hillary or commi bastard Bernie. So although O’Malley is sure to drop out any day now–unless he really likes to lose by epic levels in a small field–he and his family can leave Iowa knowing they are not without support from some people. Fittingly, he has no geographic base of support, but instead, sporadic support in some rural counties.
-Bernie effectively peeled off the sizable left in Iowa and got out the youth and co-op farm vote to match Hillary’s party regulars and moderate base. Although Hillary technically won (or did she?), it matters very little in the scheme of things. What matters is Bernie took on Hillary’s onslaught of name-rec and resources and walked away tied after round 1. That is incredible someone not descriptively suited to beat Hillary (i.e. he is a Jewish socialist from Brooklyn… not a sizable bloc like Obama and African-Americans). Bernie’s strength in the most progressive part of the state–the southeast–is a clear indicator of where he gets his support.
For now, Bernie is effectively the front-runner for the next couple of weeks. Certainly Hillary’s ground game, and more importantly, advantage among party elites (superdelegates) will lead to her collecting a series of victories on super Tuesday. But if Bernie can continue to win the states with the most active left or legacy of populist socialism (Minnesota, New Mexico, Wisconsin, North Dakota, West Virginia, Michigan, Oregon, Alaska, Hawaii), the last primary states may take him seriously enough to spurn their devotion to the Clintons. As it stands, Bernie has a very low chance of winning California, Texas, New York, Illinois, or Florida. If he can win one of these states, that would signal a very large sea change in in either the calculus of ethnic minorities, or an incredible turnout among youth voters. In is nearly unforeseeable for Bernie to start winning moderate or home-owning types, even if they have reservations about Hillary’s character. Texas will be the first of these states, and a key race to watch (Bernie will win NH and Hillary is very likely to win Nevada and South Carolina).
-Regarding Hillary, if I were in her camp I would still be optimistic. That is because this is a long race, and Hillary’s structural advantage across many multi-ethnic and non-leftist states makes her a clear favorite, even still. That said, Bernie has all the momentum, and she really needs to find a more convincing talking point that I am the best suited to win the general, and I have a lot of bipartisan experience. As much I actually believe that stuff, as a progressive, neither are likely to make me support her over Bernie. Going negative will not beat him either. The only way to beat Bernie, other that holding constant until the convention and winding an underwhelming plurality of the delegates, is to prove to progressives Hillary’s policies will continue and expand Obama’s legacy. Not only will she be mindful to steward the country through necessary, but unpopular decisions, but she will actually achieve success on progressive policies. That requires her to tell anecdotes about specific GOP senators that favor climate change, carceral reform, and raising the minimum wage. Because if those senators do not exist, then we are just as well off electing an authentic progressive icon than a competent statesman that might lead to non-progressive policies as much she gets the progressive ones. A history of bipartisanship is not enough; that these senators still exist, and on issues progressives care about, is key to Hillary proving her pedigree.
Oh, and overall, I think it is fair to say Iowans just do not like Hillary Clinton.
And now the GOP, the party of America! With a vast misinformation campaign, aided by a dumb leading opponent, arch-conservative (or so he makes everyone think) Ted Cruz took first place. Several people have suggested Trump’s refusal to participate in the last debate really hurt him among those that were still undecided. However, Ted Cruz looked especially bad in that debate, which to me suggests these undecided voters likely did not move toward Cruz, but some other candidate, which ostensibly could have been Trump. At any rate, Marco Rubio had an incredible night, and is the real big winner on the GOP side.
-Cruz winning is not surprising, given that Rick “Santorum” Santorum won in 2012. Iowa loves batshit unelectable conservative types. And given the large size of the field, the real advantage of “winning” Iowa is people making a big deal about you “winning” Iowa. If the media depicted event in Iowa as being a fairly bad predictor of subsequent events, the bandwagon effect would be much smaller (and it is already very small). They key question about Cruz are: when Trump inevitably quits the campaign, will those voters go to him? Same with Carson? And even if they pule into his camp, a combined 61.2% of the vote in Iowa is still probably not enough to predict the strength of that candidate in normal states. A conservative standard bearer, yes, but the eventual nominee, probably not.
-What I consider the biggest story of the nigh: Bush fails hard. Really hard. I don’t care how conservative Iowa Republicans are, 2.8% of the vote for a fucking Bush is ludicrous. If Jeb does not win New Hampshire, which he likely won’t, then I do not see how he can continue his campaign. The one ray of light is Marco Rubio is also not positioned to win New Hampshire, which means some moderate has to step into the fray. Kasich and Christie are well-suited to win New Hampshire, and they are not nearly as moderate as Huntsman in 2012, which should help them a little.
-Marco Rubio is the big winner of the night. He has seemingly pulled in enough regular conservatives to push him ahead of the moderate-only club of Republicans (Bush, Christie, Kasich). Now, Rubio will be able to get the moderates and eventually coalesce a strong election constituency around him, which one might even call “the establishment.” Most interestingly, Rubio surged atop college town enthusiasm. If he and Sanders make it to the general election, it might be the first time in American history in which the key deciding election group was young people. High turnout among college students and 20-somethings has propelled both of these candidates forward. But belying the “all college students are indoctrinate liberal” tag, Rubio (and Rand Paul) genuinely appeal to younger voters. One can argue endlessly about whether that is false consciousness by these youths or principled conservatism, but the feat of simply getting these kids excited is a high order. Rubio can authentically claim to be the leading non-batshit candidate at this point, which is especially stunning given his own history of being pathological liar.
-Surprisingly, there is not much to say about Trump. The accusations of electoral fraud by the comb-over against Cruz are really entertaining though. Seeing that he has continuously said he won every debate-business-election-farting contest in human history, the fact that he is 0/1 in election season (a zero percent success rate over his electoral career in the GOP) is interesting. The maverick in him could upset the conventional wisdom and he can take New Hampshire, but all the momentum is against him. Whoever his supporters are, at some point they will get burned out. That time might be sooner than later (and then he wins New Hampshire and I have reassess the world).
-Ben Carson achieved his high water mark for a primary this year. He will not fare any better moving forward. He might stay in to continue his public presence before his book releases, but his candidacy is essentially over now that the conservative side of the field is becoming more settled.
-Rand Paul has suspended his campaign. I do not know what he was expecting in Iowa, other than potentially winning the Iowa City area. But Rubio took those votes. So Paul will move on to concentrate on his jeopardized senate seat, but we will see him again in 2020 and 2024. I do believe at some point he will be a top 3 candidate in the party, although I honestly thought that could have been this election. Paul must eternally hate Rubio for stealing his campus cred.
Overall, the key story in Iowa is really the roll of college students in providing insurgent candidates with their support. Both Sanders and Rubio received large turnout in the college towns.
Sixth Party System has been out of commission for too long, and what better way to return than with a roundup of all the GOP candidates for president. We have some real quality people… in America, and none seem to be running for president in this field. Oh well, one of them will advance to the general, so we may as well get to know them. The format is simple: below each picture I will explain the type of candidate, why they are running, their chances of victory, and their support base. I will handicap each candidates chance of winning the GOP primary, and if that is above zero, their chances in the general election. This is the chance of winning the presidency overall, not the likely popular vote share. Since the national electorate leans Democratic right now, anything over a 33% chance of victory denotes a strong candidate. Moreover, this percentage is estimated with the assumption that Hillary will be the Democratic candidate. If she somehow loses the primary, then all of the chances to win would be much higher. Just add 10% to each number and that is how they would fare against Bernie Sanders, Jim Webb, Martin O’Malley, or any other Democrat.
Primary chances are zero sum among the candidates on this page, whereas general election chances are variable since it is a new, discrete game for each candidate versus the Democrat. Structurally, Republicans face an uphill struggle to win over the national electorate, which means no GOP candidate is favored to win over Hillary in 2016. A strong GOP candidate can make it a tight race, as some of these candidates could capably achieve. Some might even win the presidency in 2016, but it would be close. Who can win some Great Lakes states, the upper South, Colorado, and/or Florida?
Well, let’s see!
Jeb! Bush (smug autocratic former Governor of Florida)
Type: neo-conservative patrician
Purpose for running: legacy, turn
Chance of winning primary: 21%
Chance of winning general: 40%
Base of support: moderates; people who like dynasties; neo-cons; GOP establishment; he wishes Hispanics
Geographic base: national, but primarily the Northeast, Florida, and the Sun Belt
Jeb! (pronounced yeb) Bush is attempting to craft an image of himself that reeks of inauthenticity. A man of the people–namely Hispanic people. The problem is he is neither of the people nor his he Hispanic. But what he is certified as is a politically connected son and brother of former presidents, and a former governor of a swing state. That pedigree would generally make him the odds-on favorite to win in a party that has historically observed an it-is-your-turn approach to candidate selection. The problem is the party has become more conservative, and the “activist” class has managed to forge the most powerful narrative, which now reverberates in formerly moderate circles. The fractured field actually helps Bush–almost everyone is to his right and will fight it out for the looney tunes vote–but he has looked quite underwhelming in these early stages of the campaign.
With his classical training as a political operative in mind, Bush’s inability to answer the “knowing what you know now, would you invade Iraq?” question is astonishing. I contend if you were to ask him that question right now, you would get a different answer.It is a pretty simple question, which from his perspective would have a telegraphed answer: yes, with some caveat. That is it. He cannot refute his brother’s vision of Iraq and domestic security without hurting his own brand. Whether Jedediah likes it or not, he is conjoined with Dubyah at the hip on nearly everything. Moving away from his brother’s legacy is only remotely possible if he at least surrounds himself with different people and espouses different wisdom on the area, but his advisers are the same people that masterminded the war, and his messaging is also the same.
Back to his ethnicity, Bush is badly hurt by Marco Rubio’s presence in the campaign. Although Rubio is Cubano, his skin color and general straight-shooting manner leave him in a much better position to court Hispanic voters than Bush, who married a Mexican woman and has a biracial child, but is himself a product of an Aryan Episcopalian aristocratic family.
Jeb!’s bumbling, tone-deaf, and incredibly back-heeled campaign is inherently cynical. It operates under the clear modus operandi that he is destined to become president, and that if he avoids controversy and gotcha’ moments, his connections and name recognition will keep him in the race until early November 2016. No matter what he overtly stresses or claims in his manicured public gatherings and speeches, Bush’s campaign is not about earning it (the candidacy), but enduring it (the campaign).
Ben Carson (blind neurosurgeon in Maryland)
Type: Tea Partier/take-my-country-back(er)
Purpose for running: profit
Chance of winning: zero
Base of support: Tea Party; conservative policy wonks and intellectuals (too small a group to build a base)
Geographic base: a couple of people at the selfish Johns Hopkins medical school
Carson’s primary reason for running for president is to sell books. Plain and simple. This is a profit-making endeavor, although I do not doubt his sincerity when he decries the PPACA as the worst form of social control since slavery, or that same-sex marriage is really not that different from bestiality. And while I find him a pretty boring, inconsequential candidate or pundit, there is something to be said for how infatuated many Tea Party groups are with his person. Do they think he has smart ideas? Do they like his tenor? Are they just looking for any black conservative, and Allen West is busy right now? All I know is Ben Carson hails from the JHU medical school which is famous for bogarting resources that the rest of the university would benefit from. Fitting that side of the school would produce a vitriolic GOP candidate.
Chris Christie (cartel Governor of New Jersey)
Type: metro machine conservative
Purpose for running: ambition and power
Chance of winning primary: 2%
Chance of winning general: 31%
Base of support: white homeowners; very confused good governance types; labor haters; network of cronies; Italians; police and firefighters.
Geographic base: Northeast, Mid-Atlantic
The Culture of Corruption candidate really hurt his credibility with the whole Birdgegate debacle. It is obvious the whole thing was orchestrated because of how he runs his operations. The facts as currently available in the public surely disqualify him from overseeing a nation of diverse thought–some that do not jive with his thinking. Especially in this historical time period, in which federal security state affairs are at a crossroads, a Nixonian candidate like Christie or Walker is quite dangerous. Christie is very enigmatic: he seems to be go-getter, no nonsense type, as seen in how he handled Hurricane Sandy. At the same time, he is petty, abusive towards any opposition (e.g. questions), and he maintains a solid record of carving out special interest privileges. If you have to live under the reign of any of these candidates, Christie might be among the least pernicious, but that says more about the field of candidates than Christie’s acceptability. Such a pity; before the scandal I thought Christie could give Hillary a run for her money. Although he is still a strong campaigner, he is unlikely to make it through the GOP primary, let alone topple Hillary.
Ted Cruz (vacuous false-idol Senator from Texas)
Type: opportunist, McCarthyite, Tea Partier
Purpose for running: attention and profit
Chance of winning primary: 1%
Chance of winning general: 3%
Base of support: Tea Party; Minutemen; various anti-government types; people who gravitate towards false idols
Geographic base: Sun Belt, Big Sky country, Washington D.C.
Ted Cruz loves attention more than anything else, such as power, governance, policy, esteem. This run for president is not serious in any way, but simply an opportunity to keep his name in the public eye so that he can sell books, book speaking engagements, and engage donors. He is a weak candidate in any general election that has at least 1/3 non-GOP voters, which makes his reelection in Texas precarious. Therefore, time is of the essence for Cruz to cash in on his exploits, lest he be left with no policy achievements and not enough money to show for his time in politics. The real kicker is if Cruz used his education and ability to cajole colleagues to do as he says for a greater purpose, he could potentially be a formal leader and decision-maker within the party. It is fairly clear he does not want this sort of responsibility, unless of course that would keep him in the public eye ever more. Cruz is one of the few in-government vanity candidates, which usually hail from non-elected circles.
iCarly Fiorina Version 0.32 (failed business executive in California)
Type: business conservative
Purpose for running: vanity, life-meaning
Chance of winning primary: zero
Base of support: California Republican Party
Geographic base: Certain Silicon Valley home, Orange County
Fiorina’s version number is to suggest she has regressed below the 1.0 status, into a walking, talking demagogue. Aside from Ben Carson, she might be the least qualified person to become president. Unlike Carson, she has executive experience and has run for elected office, but short of the Trump, she has failed at being an executive as she ran HP into the ground. HP’s products, profits, innovation, market share, brand loyalty, and worker morale all declined under Fiorina. Since her departure, HP has actually returned to form to some respect, showing crappy leadership indeed outweighs decent thinkers and workers when it comes to final product. She is a vitriolic, bitter person that is very insulting and defensive in just about every setting you will see her in. California is light on the GOP bench, but even there, she is a horrible, horrible candidate. The 42.2% vote share in the California Senate race against Barbara Boxer looks pretty good, as does winning Ventura and San Diego counties. However, the year of that election was 2010, and Boxer has long faced mainstream issues with getting Socal white middle class votes, which suggests a) the impressive counties Fiorina won had more to do with dislike for Boxer, and b) 42.2% in 2010 is actually pretty awful. A stronger candidate could have brough Boxer into plurality victory territory–still a loss, but a more respectable one. Fiorina does not deserve to be president or vice president, and she really has no particular base of support to justify her candidacy. Seriously, who supports Fiorina?
Lindsey Graham (limp-wristed Senator from South Carolina)
Type: Neo-conservative war hawk
Purpose for running: policy, keep neo-con hawk line on the agenda
Chance of winning primary: zero
Base of support: neoconservative war hawks; legal community; log-cabin Republicans
Geographic base: coastal Carolinas, D.C., Southern cities
Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and Joe Lieberman made up the holy trinity of neoconservative war hawks in the Senate between the late 1990s and 2010. They were bipartisan, but generally agreed on a conservative, anti-darkies agenda. Now in 2015, Lieberman is gone, with Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire subbed in, but Graham still has all the same answers. “Invade, invade, 9/11. bomb, invade, kill, 9/11, radical Islam, war, Iran, Benghazi, bomb, security, kill kill kill.” I suppose it is disingenuous to use quotes, but I stand by those terms as a pretty good paraphrase. His presidential run is not in any way to win, but instead to do two things: become a potential VP candidate, but more importantly, keep the hawkish line in the official discourse.
I guess this presidential run means Lindsey will not announce his coming out of the closet any time soon, but I sure hope Graham accepts his homosexuality soon and drops the facade of being a lifelong bachelor.
Mike Huckabee (snake oil selling former Governor from Arkansas)
Type: evangelical conservative
Purpose for running: profit
Chance of winning primary: 9%
Chance of winning general: 22%
Base of support: Evangelical movement; certain right-wing populists; some moderates that view his rhetoric and governance as two distinct, almost disconnected paths.
Geographic base: Bible Belt, south of the Ohio River, east of the Colorado
Mike Huckabee has managed to transform from mild-mannered, pragmatic conservative governor to hate-filled, pandering, solicitous demagogue in a matter of eight years. Where Huckabee used to come across as an authentic populist with religious commitments, he now seems to represent purely reactionary elements within the country. Further, he tends to use language that foments anger and increases general hostility toward government instead of framing his perspective on issues as problem-solving what others fail to fix. These changes point towards a general lack of interest in governance, and instead, a growing interest in money. If he has a secondary motive, it might be to grow his power within the American baptist and evangelical communities, but even this may now simply serve as a vehicle for resource extraction through peddling snake oil products like crappy health care coverage after the PPACA, or weak cure-alls to diabetes. Among all the profit-motivated candidates in the race at this time, he still has the largest political base and greatest chance to at least win some primaries. He has done it before, and even if he has lost the esteem of more serious voters, his burgeoning power within the religious right affords him a strong, motivated base to turnout in droves.
Bobby Jindal (awkward malware Governor of Louisiana)
Purpose for running: self-meaning, VP bait
Chance of winning primary: zero
Base of support: none really, but some conservative policy wonks like him
Geographic base: parts of Louisiana
Bobby Jindal is not a well-liked or popular political figure in any circles. Louisianans don’t like him, so he has no geographic base. Big money types have all-American good ol’ boys like Walker and Bush to turn to. Youths don’t like him. I am sure he holds some esteem in the Indian community, which on balance is more conservative than most Asian American communities, but that base is not strong enough in the GOP to do much. He tends to play up new generation leadership with fresh ideas, much like Rubio (and in his awkward, vague manner, Cruz), but Jindal does not actually have many ideas. School choice? Stopping Iran from getting a nuke? Repealing Obamacare? Keystone XL? Nothing innovative or original about this stuff. Even in a weak field, he would likely finish near last, but here, Jindal stands no chance. Chances are Jindal becomes a highly paid lobbyist for an oil company after he leaves the governor’s mansion.
John Kasich (calculating Governor of Ohio)
Type: Reaganite, pragmatic conservative
Purpose for running: governance; ambition
Chance of winning primary: 3%
Chance of winning general: 48%
Base of support: Beltway players; moderates; policy wonks; Reagan era pols; in-government bureaucrats; business interests without conservative social agendas
Geographic base: Great Lakes, D.C.
Governor Kasich is a savvy politician, well-seasoned in decades of austerity era American governance. He probably aspires to be nearly as conservative as most of the other candidates here, but unlike them, when he perceives public sentiment is against him, he will compromise. The Issue 2 debacle in 2011 seems to have shaken the depths of his conservative agenda, but that likely made him a better general election candidate and representative of broader interests. Perhaps the fact that he has a conscience precludes him from becoming the GOP candidate, but if he somehow made it to the general, there is a strong chance he could beat Hillary to become president. When an authentic conservative willing to make deals to keep the country moving has almost no shot of winning the Republican primary, something is seriously wrong.
George Pataki (bored former Governor of New York)
Type: security statist
Purpose for running: relevance, life meaning, probably profit
Chance of winning primary: zero
Base of support: Giuliani type well-to-do metropolitan homeowners who fear minorities and crime
Geographic base: places hit with terrorism, suburbs, and exurbs
As a fringe candidate running purely out of boredom and a dwindling sense of life-force, Pataki at least fulfills the security state fear monger role Giuliani usually fills. Aside from that, not much to say about Pataki except he is unlikely to gain any traction short of a terrorist attack that somehow he forecasted. That should also make him a prime suspect if one is to occur. He has a reputation as a New York conservative, but short of James Buckley, he would still seem quite moderate to the GOP base. A meaningless campaign for a meaningless person.
Rand Paul (the less disgusting Senator from Kentucky)
Type: libertarian extraordinaire
Purpose for running: keep libertarian line in public discourse; sell books
Chance of winning: 18%
Chance of winning general: 28%
Base of support: paleo-conservatives; libertarians; Bourbon GOP; college-aged white males; Ayn Rand readers.
Geographic base: national, college campuses
Every now and then Rand Paul will say or do something that seems cross-partisan and almost beneficial for the country, such as fighting the surveillance state and working with Harry Reid to retrench the prison industrial complex and enfranchise felons. That is really good stuff, and his voice within the GOP is much more important than the many Democratic civil libertarian analogs, which is quite ironic since the GOP is supposed to be the party of limited government, reserved rights, and skepticism toward governmental power. As some–but not all–political observers understand, the GOP actually seems to be the party of inflated and wasteful government, which is an interesting method of decreasing public confidence in government, which thereby bolsters claims to dismantle parts of the state that actually do serve a purpose, such as the welfare state. Anyone who followed Reagan’s presidency understands this tactic well: starve the beast to create the crisis in which retrenchment takes hold; make government so heinous regular folks will call for deregulation and the marginalization of public goods. But while these conservatives, starting with Nixon, the expansion of state oppressive apparatuses such as the surveillance and carceral states belies much of their retrenchment messages. This is where Rand Paul is both confounding and refreshing: he generally wants to dismantle nearly everything across the board, which includes conservative-led police state structures. Paul’s several filibusters have certainly kept these items on the agenda and disallow quick, bipartisan reauthorizations, even if he fails at the end of the day. Launching a filibuster when you are publishing a book about your filibusters is also a nice way to profit from these seemingly symbolic articulations.
That is where Paul becomes a little easier to figure out than say, Scott Walker: Paul wants to spread the gospel of libertarian doctrine, and if that forces him to lose some allies while he makes some money, so be it. The senator is not running for president to win, but instead to keep his agenda in the public eye, and to further build his middle-class white college boy base into a larger network. Perhaps one day he will become the GOP candidate, but right now the primary voters are not libertarians, but instead generally Huckabee type social authoritarians. In the past, Paul has pandered to this crowd (see any of his comments on civil rights), but he seems less content to make that a focal point in his current campaign. Although the Paul electorate is not fully formed, the elder (Ron) Paul did exceedingly well for an insurgency campaign in 2012. Perhaps Rand will go even further this time, which means several states outright. That libertarian strain is strong in California, Colorado, Maine, the Dakotas, and possibly Kentucky (for obvious reasons).
Rick Perry (moronic former Governor from Texas)
Type: states-rights evangelical conservative and secessionist
Purpose for running: relevance
Chance of winning primary: 5%
Chance of winning general: 2%
Base of support: secessionists; racists; Texans
Geographic base: Texas and parts of the Sun Belt
Oh Rick Perry, why do you want to advertise your stupidity? I know glasses can be perceived as a sign of intelligence, but that is if you adhere to Khmer Rouge assessments of intelligence, in which Perry should probably take the glasses off lest he be led to the killing fields. As if the glasses were not enough, he also obtained a lecturer job in the political science department of Texas A&M, which is actually a pretty good school and department despite it being his alma mater. What would complete Perry’s transformation into the conservative’s intellectual would be the ability to articulate clearly, write legibly, and remember one’s argument. Once he gets those down, National Review here he comes!
As if Perry’s meltdown last cycle was not enough, Perry is back for more. If he was the only southern conservative with occasional bouts of racist psychobabble, he might actually have a chance to make it to the final three. However, this cycle has Huckabee, Jindal, Santorum, and Cruz, which is a clown car of the same ilk. They will splinter the vote to the point that a “moderate,” northern conservative, or libertarian might carry the day, further marginalizing the quite formidable southern bloc. Perry is probably in the race to provide liberals with laughs and to potentially hype a forthcoming book about Texas secession and why he hates America so much. Of all the fringe candidates, Perry has the highest likelihood a winning a state primary (South Carolina maybe), but he will quickly lose steam and implode, much like happened to revisionist pseudo-historian Newt Gingrich.
Marco Rubio (thirsty Senator from Florida)
Purpose for running: ambition and hopeful VP pick
Chance of winning primary: 11%
Chance of winning general: 35%
Base of support: politically illiterate young people; moderates; certain Tea Partiers; Club for Growth
Geographic base: Southern Florida
The man that drinks scared, Rubio loves to tell everyone how much he likes hip-hop, and apparently, electronic music. Well that’s nice. I like hip-hop too. Oh, you like Tupac and Biggie? Me too!!!! I guess you have my vote (says no one). Although I do not doubt his sincerity with liking rap, I definitely think his infatuation with dub step is pure pandering. That said, in a general election equipped with rock the vote campaigns, he might benefit from some of these statements. But there are very few Republican primary voters who share his authentic interest in 90s hip-hop. If Rubio is crafty enough, he will try to learn a thing or two from Rand Paul and storm college campuses for his voting base. Simply put, Cubanos are not a large enough population in states out side of Florida, which will likely go for Bush over him, though I could be wrong on that. Rubio is betting the farm on this campaign as he is not running for reelection in the Senate–unlike unscrupulous Rand Paul–which implies he is either very confident in winning/gaining VP nod, or he does not want to be in DC anymore and would rather run for FL governor or get a show on Fox. Rubio’s message has predominantly focused on international issues, such as Iran and ISIS, with sprinkles of Obamacare and entitlement talk. I doubt these combination will go very far in such a crowded field, but I am hesitant to dismiss Rubio the way I do with other candidates. Historically he has shown a unique leadership style, such as his state-crossing idea generation tour when he was a state lawmaker, which allowed him to craft an image as a visionary man of the people. I do not see him doing such things nowadays, but if he can stay in the race past the first primary months, I think he could be a serious candidate that is capable of pleasing both establishment (“moderate”) GOP business interests, as well the Tea Party. Moreover, he then adds in the youthful vigor element to contrast with Hillary, and who knows, maybe he pulls off an incredible upset. Stranger things have happened.
Rick Santorum (talking airbag and former Senator from Pennsylvania)
Type: Christian conservative, blue collar conservative
Purpose for running: profit, nothing better to do
Chance of winning primary: 1%
Chance of winning general: 8%
Base of support: 19 & Counting; disenchanted conservative union workers; nuclear family idealists
Geographic base: Rust Belt
Rick Santorum is an utter moron, but lately I have realized he is probably not a bad person. Moreover, he has a strain of preferences in his career of taking pro-worker stances on some issues when the GOP line would be to his right. Granted, these are rare and often meaningless, but my point is he is not the worst. He might be a fundamentalist, but he has some common sense. He also has a low IQ, which hurts his ability to answer questions and communicate in an effective manner. Anyway, Santorum is not a threat to win this election–he seems to struggle to find an audience willing to listen to him. Unfortunately, that means this race is simply about keeping his name out there so he can make enough money off of family biographies to buy the his eponymous domain name. A frothy mixture indeed.
Donald Trump (ego-maniacal profiteer)
Type: xenophobic business conservative
Purpose for running: vanity and self-meaning
Chance of winning primary: 3%
Chance of winning general: 1%
Base of support: himself; interests abroad
Geographic base: Suburbs, NY and Chicago, Northeast
Trump is the most prolific troll in American political history. Unlike most human beings, when Trump makes an assertion at the beginning of a sentence, he has no problem completely disowning that view by the end of the sentence. Where many people are bound by consistency to decrease cognitive dissonance, Trump will float from one string of ideas to another that completely contradicts what he just said. He is neither principled nor conservative, which is what the base really wants. He is an opportunist who says what he thinks people want to hear, which may strike people as untrue, but that is what does. Many members of the GOP hate Mexicans, but Trump does not. And yet he feels very at ease with attacking anyone of that nationality as likely criminals or moochers. He makes business deals in quick succession with Chinese or Arab autocrats and tyrants, then will vilify their whole lot as enemies of the state. Wouldn’t that make Trump a traitor? Anyone that allows the words that fart out of Trumps disgusting head to bother them is misunderstanding what Trump represents in the cosmic collective: Trump is the desperate fame worshiping failure that thinks he has all the answers, when he has exactly zero solutions to anything. No matter how well he polls in New Hampshire, or any other state, the egomaniac will never gain elected office with a diverse electorate. He could run for mayor of Greenwich if he wanted, and might win, but that is about as high as this vanity candidate can buy his way into elected office. Now he could become a diplomat for a winning candidate he financed, but then he would have to knock off the racism, which might be asking too much.
Scott Walker (sinister Orwellian Governor of Wisconsin)
Type: smooth talking arsonist
Purpose for running: power, policy, ambition
Chance of winning primary: 26%
Chance of winning general: 46%
Base of support: Koch Bros™; multi-national business interests; homeowners; union haters; polarized and fearful public; bikers.
Geographic base: Great Lakes and Great Plains
First off, Scott is a such a cool dude. Like really. What a man of the people and just really humble, and hey, he is just like me: a commoner. He rides around Wisconsin in a rotund motorcycle, he has badges. I mean, so cool.
Too bad he is the contemporary incarnation of Richard Nixon. Seriously. He is the most Nixonian candidate this country has seen in… ever. His paranoia, quest for power, unscrupulous personal and institutional attacks on others, and his incredible ability to forge a seemingly benign message to cover up a dystopian policy is uncanny. Walker is the biggest threat of any candidate to become president, and then quickly deregulate an already deregulated country, open up nature reserves for resource extraction, and massively retool the surveillance/security state to Orwellian levels. Fear, like with Nixon, is his currency.
Walker is quite perplexing. The weirdest aspect of Walker’s person is no one really knows what he actually believes. It is easy to paint him as a mouthpiece for the Koch Bros™, willing to do anything for his big money donors in the quest for quid pro quo enrichment and political gain. But, he could also be a principled business oriented conservative, driven to implement his ideal vision of an American in which… businesses… and… Republicans reign supreme. But who knows to what extent he pursues his principles, discrete interests, constituent demands, or big business directives. Does it even matter?
The answer is no. Whether he believes in the policies or political tactics he readily employs hardly matters. What is known is that he pursues a deregulatory, union-busting, surveillance included agenda that would likely hurt almost every person in the country, whether they realize it or not. I could see the allure of seemingly normal, seemingly humble, seemingly direct leader that levels with people and claims to balance budgets and cut taxes. All this amounts to a middle class white male homeowner’s dream candidate.
Whether Walker is driven by personal goals or select interests, one thing is known: he is a power hungry politician that uses covert tactics to achieve his strategy of ensuring politics is filled with hatred, animosity, fear, and permanent crisis. In this context, he can step in and be the patrician leader business interests and scared people adore. God help us if ever becomes president.
Strictly about this campaign, he is among the most sophisticated politicians in the country, and he has an endless stream of dark money to keep him in the race long after most other candidates piss their sugar daddy off and bow out. I consider him the strongest primary candidate in the GOP, and among the top 4 strongest general election GOP candidate. If he wins Iowa, he could still lose in other states, but if he wins New Hampshire, I would say primary season will be over very quickly.