Sunday, November 1, 2015


That sums up the past several months.  There is no doubt a book there, but binding Confidentiality Agreements most likely make that a non-starter.  

I have just enough time to offer up some brief thoughts on the likely contours of the 2016 GOP presidential campaign.    

The campaigns most likely to fold up their tents between now and Iowa:  With 15 heavies remaining (sorry Mark Everson), I believe that Senator Rand Paul (R/Lib – Au) and former Governor Jim Gilmore (R – No VA Car Tax!) are the most likely to quit the field between now and February 1, 2016 Iowa caucuses.  The latter might stick around until New Hampshire as his, let’s call it, “strategy” appears more focused on the Granite State.  That said, he might realize that a top 10 showing is not in the cards, and quietly withdraw at some point during the Holiday Season.  The former may decide to focus on his U.S. Senate seat, so keep a close eye on his early-state polling performances in November and December. If he can’t consistently cross the five percent threshold in the weeks prior to Iowa, expect a retreat to Kentucky.  One more to watch:  Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, wonk-turned-red meat hurler, the former Bayou Wunderkind needs to break out of the second tier.  He selected Iowa as the state that gives him just enough of a push to get past the carve-out states (Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada).  Unfortunately, for Gov. Jindal, he is facing off against Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX/The Second Choice), former Governor Mike Huckabee, Former Senator Rick Santorum, and Dr. Ben Carson for the social conservative vote. 

The campaigns most likely to be done after Iowa:  Jindal if he even makes it to February 1.  I believe that Santorum will lose in the Clash of the Most Recent Iowa Victors Match-up, with Huckabee being the better positioned of the two to do anything in South Carolina.  Santorum will wrap up his campaign on Groundhog Day.  Just in time for him to head home to check on Punxsutawney Phil.

The campaigns most likely to be finished after New Hampshire:  Gilmore if he is still in the race.  Former New York Governor George Pataki will likely receive his last hurrah of the primary season in NH.  Either former Governor Chris Christie or Governor John Kasich will be on life-support or decently positioned as the Bush/Rubio alternative after New Hampshire.  Senator Lindsey Graham may opt for a strategic withdrawal and endorsement of another hawk prior to his home-state primary.

So who is a lock to be an active candidate for the South Carolina primary?  Former Governor Jeb Bush, Carson, Cruz, business executive Carly Fiorina, probably Huckabee, either Christie or Kasich, Senator Marco Rubio, and businessman Donald Trump.

What about March?  I think the short-term calendar shapes up nicely for Cruz.  I expect a Huckabee exit as well as a slow Carson (and slower Trump) fade (all to the benefit of Cruz) and that Bush will struggle. 

Beyond that, I think Cruz and Rubio are well situated to go deep.  Trump and Carson could accrue a significant number of delegates, with Fiorina performing well enough to warrant serious consideration as a VP pick.  If this were a Democratic primary, I would give Kasich better odds as a dark-horse candidate.  As it is not, I think he might emerge as the primary Establishment alternative to Rubio, but will have neither the resources nor the skills to compete with either Senator Cruz or Senator Rubio.

Stay tuned, as more will follow.