Your first breakdown of the GOP’s 2016 field … in GIFs

Three years ago this week, Mitt Romney officially clinched the GOP’s 2012 presidential nomination. One year from now, even with a deeper field of candidates, we ought to have a pretty good idea who will be the Republicans’ 2016 standard bearer. In the meantime, Georgia will play an unusually important role in helping narrow the field with an earlier primary date, and the networks holding debates starting in August have to decide how to who makes it onto a stage built for only 10, and who doesn’t. With all that in mind, here’s an early breakdown of the putative field (meaning: declared candidates, and those who have taken some kind of formal step toward a candidacy, such as forming an exploratory committee).

The top tier: The candidates who are most likely to win the nomination.

  • Jeb Bush: The Bush name, of course, means he has a high floor; the question is whether it also means he has a lower ceiling than he otherwise might have. He governed conservatively in two terms as Florida’s governor but irks the base with his stances on Common Core, immigration. Worrisome: His lack of preparedness for a reporter’s question about Iraq.
  • Rand Paul: A first-term senator from Kentucky, he too has a famous last name that he will try to use as an advantage, not an anchor. The caucuses in Iowa and Nevada, which reward the campaign organization his father excelled at, and the primary in New Hampshire, whose voters often back mavericks, could hand him three early wins. If so, watch out.
  • Marco Rubio: Another first-term senator, another Floridian. He offers a blend of youthfulness and (mostly) traditional policy positions, allowing him to straddle the establishment/tea party line fairly well. His Cuban heritage should be an asset among GOP voters who believe the party’s ticket needs some diversity.
  • Scott Walker: He’s won three elections (including a recall) to earn two terms as governor of Wisconsin, the kind of blue Midwestern state that could turn red with the right candidate. Walker may be trusted even more than Rubio by the establishment and tea-party camps that have been wrestling for control of the party, though both men face questions about their immigration stances. He’ll visit Atlanta next week.

Do not underestimate: These candidates don’t necessarily rank in the second tier today, but they have the upside.

  • Chris Christie: Did he miss his chance in 2012? Maybe. But New Jersey’s second-term governor has gotten good reviews so far, including at the Georgia GOP convention, as he sells a package of candor, willingness to make hard choices, and ability to defeat and then work with Democrats.
  • Ted Cruz: Written off by many as an extreme political stuntman, the first-term Texas senator is too smart not to find ways to broaden his appeal. Probably the most dynamic speaker of the lot, he should shine in the debates.
  • Carly Fiorina: She won’t win the nomination, but the former tech executive is the only female candidate for a party that expects to face Hillary Clinton next fall. If her sharp focus and attacks on Clinton resonate with primary voters, they could earn her a VP consideration.
  • John Kasich: The second-term governor of Ohio, a state the GOP absolutely has to win in November 2016. He’ll try to overcome skepticism about his state’s expansion of Medicaid with arguments for compassion — and his strong record as a fiscal hawk in Congress.

Do not overestimate: These candidates have probably already peaked.

  • Benjamin Carson: Like Fiorina, he’s never been elected. Unlike her, he’s never even run for office. And unlike the four presidents to be elected with no prior political experience (Washington, Taylor, Grant, Eisenhower), he’s not a war hero.
  • Mike Huckabee: The former Arkansas governor has name ID from a 2008 run and a show on Fox News. But he’s likely to split his target audience — blue-collar social conservatives — with Rick Santorum (below).
  • Rick Perry: If the three-time governor of Texas was going to be elected president, it was going to be in 2012. Oops.
  • Rick Santorum: He was the last not-Romney standing four years ago, in a race where GOP voters tried not to nominate Romney. He still lost. It won’t get better for the ex-senator from Pennsylvania.

Bottom tier: These candidates won’t experience anything resembling a “peak.”

  • Lindsey Graham: The senator is running third in his home state of South Carolina. He’s running as the defense hawk in a field that has plenty of those. He’s running … why?
  • Bobby Jindal: Louisiana’s second-term governor is a brilliant guy. But he can’t rev up a crowd and isn’t terribly popular at home. This year’s Tim Pawlenty, except this year’s field is tougher.
  • George Pataki: If Rudy Giuliani couldn’t win in 2008 as New York City’s ex-mayor, Pataki ain’t winning in 2016 as New York state’s ex-governor.
  • Donald Trump: Ha!

Reader Comments 0

42 comments
PudHead
PudHead

The GOP needs to get behind one candidate and give them full support. If Jeb is the chosen candidate, Hillary will win, there is an extreme liberal hatred of all things Bush. Yet the Clintons who are questionable at best are their heroes.

AynRant
AynRant

... a brace of clowns, obstructionists, square-earth believers, climate change deniers, Scripture perverts ... not an idea or an accomplishment among them!


Can we endure another 18 months of their nonsense?

ATLSportsRiseUp
ATLSportsRiseUp

This is a new American (thank God) so until the unpatriotic, " corporations are people" bigots in the Republican party change their attitude, they will never win another Presidential election. Can you imagine if another Bush became President? We would end up in yet another war, sending our young people over to the middle east to die for the rich elites in this country. I'm not a Hillary fan either. Unfortunately, we have no real leaders in this country. Both parties are beholden to their corporate masters.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

My guy's not running but I'll accept Paul, Rubio, Fiorina, Walker, Christie or Kasich, with reservations on all but two.

Perfection doesn't exist in politics.

I read over at Galloway's that the black community here in Atlanta is still smoldering over Clinton's racist remarks about Obama in 2008.

Maybe if she told 'em "Ah cahm too fahrrrrrrrrr from ware ah stardid frahmmmmm", they'd forgive her.

schnirt

MHSmith
MHSmith

Add one more just  announced candidate to your list Kyle. A real long shot: Former New York Governor George Pataki

straker
straker

Hillary will win over this current crop for the same reason Obama was elected twice.


A choice between bad and worse.

Bhorsoft
Bhorsoft

Two first term senators in the top tier list.  Maybe that's why we aren't hearing the inexperience complaints we used to hear from the Republicans about a first term senator we elected president.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@Bhorsoft If only Dr. Paul and former Speaker of the Florida House Rubio had some training in community organization and Alinsky's Rules for Radicals, they wouldn't have to endure the inexperience questions, right?

Jefferson1776
Jefferson1776

Republicans should be born with rings in their noses because they are just led around by their leaders (owners).

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@Jefferson1776 Lemmings or sheep don't need a ring, they move in mass behind the one they follow, never questioning why they are following or where they are headed.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Wena Mow Masipa How Yeah, but the false moral equivalence between what the Clintons do to pad their personal bank accounts and run-of-the-mill campaign-finance stuff is just disingenuous.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Wena Mow Masipa How It is clear, though, that false equivalence and breeding cynicism about the system as a whole is how the Clintons intend to win. Destroying the village to save the village in a way. Way to put country first ...

Wena Mow Masipa How
Wena Mow Masipa How

@Kyle_Wingfield @Wena Mow Masipa How They're not much different than any of their peers, except perhaps in the final quantum.  Setting aside their self enrichment (which is the American way and dream, let's not forget), their policies are better than what's being offered by conservatives. By a mile.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Wena Mow Masipa How "They're not much different than any of their peers."

Yep, all pols who have made tens of millions of dollars from those companies, individuals and foreign governments seeking access to them via their mid-six-figure speaking fees and their multibillion-dollar "charity" are the same.

That list includes ... Bill and Hillary Clinton ... and ... let's see ... well ...

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@Wena Mow Masipa How When are the Clinton's going to release their tax returns?  What percentage of their income was paid in taxes?  A little bird told me they haven't paid any income tax in years. How much money do they have hidden overseas?  (Do you think they will get these Romney type questions from the MSM?) 


Remember they were broke leaving the WH, couldn't even pay their 3 mortgages, Ha! 


RafeHollister
RafeHollister

One thing that is not discussed much in the media, is the influence of the proggies in influencing the nominee.  With little interest in the coronation of the Dem's bell cow, they will be crossing over in states like NH and GA and others with open primaries.  NH is a perfect place where the small population of GOP voters can be highjacked by the proggies. Expect Bush and Kasich to do well there, as the proggies try to stack the deck in their favor. 

MHSmith
MHSmith

Kasich is first tier on my roster. 


Any Republican that can turn their back on the sick and feeble in this country to deny them Medicaid when they need it simply lacks the moral fabric to represent America.    

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

Great summary. I thought Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz would be on the same level, but see where you're coming from. 

I would also think Benjamin Carson would be in the bottom tier, along with Carly Fiorina.  


My list: Bush, Walker, Kasich, and Perry in the top tier.  (You know, "Executive Experience" and track records)

Christie, Cruz, Paul and Rubio in the second tier.  (Christie would be in the top, but he's played too many political games)

Huckabee, Jindal, and Santorum in the third tier,  (really, only marginal support but perhaps one or two can show up in the debates)

and Carson, Graham, Fiorina, Pataki and Trump at the bottom. (Not sure why they are running other than publicity and/or funds from campaigning.) 


It feels like there are still a couple of people missing. . . Are these all the "yes, I'm running!" candidates so far? Or are some "about to announce" and others who are "putting out feelers"? 



Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@LogicalDude That's the full list as far as I can tell. And, to be clear, these are my evaluations of their candidacies, not my personal preferences as a voter. We'll get to the latter eventually.

Jimmyliscious
Jimmyliscious

Kasich is the most moderate and does what he thinks is good by all people. I'd like to see him get the nomination.

Jefferson1776
Jefferson1776

"The Kids Table" --- now that's a funny name for the 2nd tier as you refer to them as,  I bet they love both terms ....

Aquagirl
Aquagirl

I'd move Huckabee to the bottom tier after he came out in support of Josh Duggar. Because nothing says bottom tier like "I support child molesters."


Great gifs Kyle.

Wena Mow Masipa How
Wena Mow Masipa How

Hillary, warts and all, is head and shoulders better than all of these clowns, save perhaps Kasich (who isn’t crazy), and Paul (who is sort of crazy, sort of not crazy, but at least principled).  Christie, Cruz, Fiorina, Huckabee, Carson, Perry, and Santorum all belong in the bottom tier.  Any self-respecting not crazy Republican should be ashamed of these tools.

Wena Mow Masipa How
Wena Mow Masipa How

On second thought, Cruz doesn't belong in the bottom tier. He deserves his own category, below the bottom, called something like "You gotta be kidding me."

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Wena Mow Masipa How And any self-respecting Democrat who complains about money in politics and special interests should be ashamed of their support for Hillary.

Wena Mow Masipa How
Wena Mow Masipa How

@Kyle_Wingfield @Wena Mow Masipa How  I agree 100% that money in politics and special interests are both very serious problems. It'd be disingenuous of you to suggest that Ms. Clinton is any different than any other big name pol, left, right, center or from another universe.

lvg
lvg

Kasich is the most qualified and has the least baggage but he will be given the RINO label by the Southern Red Neck wing of the GOP and won't graduate from the Circus.

Claver
Claver

Agree for the most part.  I'd be tempted to move Rand Paul down one notch.  He had some initial appeal with the younger crowd.  But, the more he now tries to appeal to social conservatives, the less young people are going to get on board. 

Caius
Caius

My take:

Jeb Bush - will he actually pull the trigger?

Scott Walker - won 3 elections but none in a presidential election year.

Marco Rubio - we just had 6 plus years with a first year senator as president.

Rand Paul - professional runner like his father.

Christie -  bridge fell down and he was on it

Cruz - no foreigner has been elected president and we ain 't gonna start in 2016.

Carly -  yeah, maybe VP material

Kasich -  has he received his message yet?

Carson -  Johnny? 

Huckabee, Perry and Santorum - should have a fairly nice bases and stay on the stage for a year or more



JackClemens
JackClemens

Excellent analysis, well illustrated.