Sabato's Crystal Ball

Clinton’s Short List of Rivals

With Hillary in, Warren and others drop off our Democratic nomination rankings

Larry J. Sabato and Kyle Kondik, U.Va. Center for Politics April 13th, 2015

In light of Hillary Clinton’s presidential announcement on Sunday followed by Marco Rubio’s announcement on Monday, we decided to release the Crystal Ball early this week in order to break down their candidacies in a timely fashion. We’ll be back to our regular Thursday morning schedule next week.
– The Editors

The least shocking announcement since… well… Rand Paul’s presidential launch last week is now in the books: Hillary Clinton is running for president.

The perfunctory announcement came Sunday afternoon via a roughly 2.5-minute video, which is clearly targeted at key Democratic constituencies, like women, minorities, gays and lesbians, and labor. Clinton herself doesn’t appear until after the video’s halfway point, and she doesn’t interact with any of the others in the video.

As she launches what is likely to be a frontrunning and cautious primary campaign, there is no denying that Hillary Clinton is one of the most durable political figures in American history. Immersed in politics since the early 1970s, she has been a universally recognized national figure since 1992. Whether elected president or not, Clinton is guaranteed top billing through 2016 — her 24th consecutive year in the headlines.

Think back over the years since 1900. Few presidential-level politicians are in her category: Teddy Roosevelt, William Jennings Bryan, Franklin Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, Ted Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush. Should she make it to the White House, Clinton will have longevity surpassing every one of these other luminaries. (Notice that six of the nine became president, and three failed.)

There are obviously advantages and disadvantages to this status. Here’s a two-sided example. Much of her image is set in concrete. Attempts to radically redefine her are doomed; we all think we know her virtues and vices. On the other hand, attacks on Clinton that do not fit the decades-long narrative of her persona will likely fall flat.

The ultimate challenge for Clinton is to be associated more with the future than the past. Frequent references to her new granddaughter won’t be nearly enough. Of course, the same will be true for Jeb Bush, should he end up as her Republican opponent. (A re-run of 1992 fills many, maybe most, people with dread. Perhaps there will be a new Ross Perot, too.)

There’s plenty of time to assess Clinton’s general election chances. For now, let’s focus on her nomination odds. Despite the secret-email controversy, she’s in good shape at the starting gate.

While the Clinton announcement surprises no one, the fact that she now is officially a candidate puts to rest the occasional whispers that she might have decided against a run for health or family reasons. It also allows us to freshen up our rankings of the Democratic presidential contenders, which included several potential candidates who appeared as though they would only run if the favored Clinton took a surprising pass on the race.

Comparisons to 2008, when Clinton lost as the frontrunner, are off-base. Not only does the current field of challengers lack a political prospect nearly of the caliber that Barack Obama was in 2007, but it is also missing even someone like John Edwards, who while disgraced now was a very credible candidate at this time eight years ago, having served as John Kerry’s VP running mate in 2004.

The former secretary of state’s poll numbers and standing in the Democratic Party are more imposing than they were eight years ago. According to the RealClearPolitics average, Clinton had the support of 35.8% of Democrats on April 12, 2007, exactly eight years before her announcement on Sunday. She led the field, but she spent the first half of 2007 hovering in the mid-to-high 30s before moving into the mid-to-high 40s at times in the fall. Her Iowa lead was always less definitive, and she ended up finishing behind both Obama and Edwards in the caucuses.

As of right now, she holds a much larger lead amongst Democrats nationally: 59.8% in the RealClearPolitics average. That’s not quite as good as she did in surveys last year, but it’s still a commanding edge.

And here’s the kicker: Of all the national Democratic presidential primary polls conducted since the start of last year included in the RealClearPolitics database, her lowest level of support was 54%.

In RealClearPolitics’ archive of polls from the 2008 cycle, Clinton’s best poll showed her at 53%.

In other words: Clinton’s worst national poll since the start of last year is still better than her best poll during the 2008 cycle.

Her current edge is even more striking when one considers that Clinton’s closest competitors are Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA) and Vice President Joe Biden, who only register in the low double digits. Clinton’s polling in Iowa is also light years better now than it was eight years ago — the frontrunner lagged in surveys there, often not even cracking 30% against Obama and Edwards. She’s over 60% in the HuffPost Pollster average now, though there aren’t many recent surveys. Ultimately, the early-state polls are much more important than the national ones: If Clinton starts to weaken, her problems will pop up in the state-level surveys first.

Clinton’s official announcement allows us to trim our list of potential Democratic candidates significantly. Exiting are Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) and Amy Klobuchar (MN). In a Clinton-less field, they could have been strong contenders, but so long as Clinton stays in the race, Gillibrand and Klobuchar won’t be candidates. The same is true of Secretary of State John Kerry. The 2004 Democratic nominee was another Clinton backstop.

Perhaps most controversially, we’re removing Warren from our list too. Could she change her mind and go back on her many denials and enter the race against Clinton? Sure. But for now we’re going to take her at her word that she will not be a candidate.

That leaves us with a very top-heavy Democratic field. Clinton is unquestionably the only first-tier candidate, and we’re leaving the second tier empty as a nod to her dominant standing in the party.

Lurking in the third tier are four Democrats who at least appear to be seriously considering the race. It’s not a mighty list, but there are credible politicians on it. Leading the group is former Gov. Martin O’Malley (MD), who seems to be seriously preparing for a run and is showing signs he’d be willing to take on Clinton vigorously. Clinton is a powerful force, but the door is not completely shut to any challenger. If someone is to exploit Clinton’s weaknesses, he or she is going to have to be aggressive about it. Playing nice in order to angle for a VP slot or Cabinet appointment isn’t going to cut it.

Former Sen. Jim Webb (VA) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT) also will not be shy about mixing it up with Clinton if they run.

Surprisingly, another Democratic contender has emerged: former Gov. Lincoln Chafee (RI). We actually hosted Chafee at the University of Virginia last year as he was finishing up his single term as governor — he is a former Rockefeller Republican senator who lost his Senate seat in the 2006 Democratic wave. He won the governorship as an independent in 2010, then became a Democrat during his term, and finally opted against running for a second term in light of poor approval ratings. To us, Chafee seemed contentedly finished with the political game, but as we’ve seen many times, the “Fever” can spike again.

To his credit, Chafee seems like he’s ready for a scrap, immediately highlighting his vote against the Iraq war in 2002 to contrast himself with Clinton. The former New York senator’s support of the war was a major reason why she lost in 2008.

Finally, we’re keeping Vice President Biden on the list as a wild card. We don’t expect him to run, but this is his last rodeo, and we would not be completely shocked if he saddled up for one last bronco ride. He’s a more serious contender than any of the others on the list besides Clinton, though as noted above he does not poll very well and does not seem to be taken seriously as a presidential contender by many in the press and in his own party.

If you’re a candidate, you won’t be easily convinced that running unopposed is a bad thing. Still, we think Clinton — and the Democratic Party as a whole — would benefit from a primary contest. If nothing else, Clinton needs to shake off her rust, and the airing of thorny issues like the e-mails from her tenure at the State Department will potentially do less damage if they are litigated in the press and on the trail this year as opposed to next.

Of course, we’re not a disinterested party. We follow elections for a living. So our indisputable bias is for competition.

Table 1: Crystal Ball 2016 Democratic presidential rankings

First Tier: The Undisputed Frontrunner
Candidate Key Primary Advantages Key Primary Disadvantages
Hillary Clinton
Ex-Secretary of State
•Very popular within party, more so than in ’08
•Pro-Iraq War vote fading in importance
•Woman: chance to make history
•Dominant position scaring off other top Democrats
•Age (69 by Election Day ’16)
•Ran unfocused, too-many-cooks ‘08 campaign; could make similar mistakes in ’16
•Keeping Bill in check — and on the porch
•Scandals already emerging
•What policy rationale is there for a new Clinton presidency?
Second Tier: Nobody
EMPTY — Clinton stands apart
Third Tier: The Others
Martin O’Malley
Ex-Governor, MD
•Liberal record and policy achievements
•Starting to show willingness to mix it up with Clinton
•Baltimore baggage
•Chosen successor lost Maryland governorship
•Nationally unknown
Jim Webb
Ex-Senator, VA
•Unique populist niche
•Strong military background with Democratic views
•Not liberal enough
•Unpredictable
•Not the best stump speaker
Bernie Sanders
Senator (Ind.),
VT
•Left loves him
•Small-donor fundraising potential
•Not actually a Democrat
•Outsider in what is very much an insider process
Lincoln Chafee
Ex-Governor,
RI
•Voted against Iraq war
•Willingness to attack Clinton
•Never elected as a Democrat
•Left office very unpopular
•No base of support in party, nationally unknown
The Wild Card
Joe Biden
Vice President
•Vast experience
•VP bully pulpit
•Age (73 by Election Day ’16)
•Gaffe machine
•Poor presidential campaign history

List changes

Additions: Former Gov. Lincoln Chafee (RI)
Subtractions: Sens. Elizabeth Warren (MA), Amy Klobuchar (MN), and Kirsten Gillibrand (NY); Secretary of State John Kerry (MA)


Marco Rubio’s Intriguing Presidential Bid

He’s a potentially strong contender for the GOP nod

Geoffrey Skelley, Associate Editor, Sabato's Crystal Ball April 13th, 2015

Early on Monday, news broke that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) will run for president, ending any uncertainty about his future and whether he would remain in the Senate. He was scheduled to officially announce his candidacy late Monday afternoon.

As he enters the race, Rubio sits in third behind ex-Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) and Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) in our current 2016 Republican presidential rankings. This positioning reflects both the potential, and the drawbacks, of Rubio’s candidacy.

Regarding his potential, Rubio seems to check most boxes. He’s an excellent speaker and a more polished politician in many respects than some of his opponents, including Bush and Walker. His ethnic background as a Cuban American sets him apart from the others, except Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who shares the same heritage as Rubio, and Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA), an Indian American. Rubio also impresses many Republican insiders, who view him as having the wherewithal to be a capable national candidate, with stronger electability than Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Cruz, and some other possible outsider candidates such as Dr. Ben Carson and ex-Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA). To borrow a racing metaphor, Rubio’s position in the establishment derby could allow him to draft until Bush and/or Walker falter and enter pit lane, springing Rubio into the lead.

The Florida senator also will portray himself as an “ideas candidate” in the reform conservative mold, most recently exemplified by his new taxation proposal, which he put together with Tea Party Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT). Having received strong backing from the Tea Party in his 2010 Senate victory, when he forced then-Gov. Charlie Crist (R) out of the GOP primary and into an independent bid, some Republicans hope that Rubio, like Walker, may be able to straddle the establishment and grassroots division that has often appeared in recent intraparty conflicts.

At the same time, there are inherent dangers in Rubio’s candidacy. For example, an “ideas candidate” can be especially vulnerable. The Rubio-Lee tax plan is complex and some aspects could leave Rubio open to attack on his right flank. He will almost certainly draw criticism from his fellow Republicans for his work on the Senate’s 2013 comprehensive immigration bill. Additionally, Rubio will be competing with a fellow Floridian, Bush, who is determined to siphon up money and support in the Sunshine State.

Should neither Bush nor Walker falter, it’s more difficult to see Rubio’s path to victory. National polling places Rubio well back in the pack, though he may get a boost from his announcement. Rubio may also be criticized about his preparation for the presidency — the obvious comparisons to President Obama as a first-term senator running for the White House — and Bush and Walker are likely to challenge him on that. Luckily for Rubio, freshman senators Cruz and Paul have the same problem. Lastly, Rubio’s decision to run for president means that he’s giving up his Senate seat, which he would have been at least a slight favorite to retain. Many national and Florida Republicans might well prefer that he have just run for reelection.

Rubio is relatively unknown compared to some of the other big names in the race: HuffPost Pollster’s average shows that only about 60% of the country has a favorable or unfavorable opinion of him, with an even split on the question. Walker is in the same camp, with just 53% having a view, also evenly split. To some extent, this is good news for Rubio. He will have a lot of room to grow as potential voters get to know him, giving him a leg up over Jeb Bush and another GOP hopeful, Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ).

As of this writing, Rubio’s average in national GOP primary polling is basically tied with Christie’s. But whereas just six in 10 Americans have an opinion on Rubio, three-fourths have a favorable or unfavorable view of Christie, and the latter’s numbers have been sinking — his net national favorability is now at -19. More importantly for the GOP primary process, Christie is simply not well liked by many Republicans. A recent Monmouth University poll found Christie with a -9 net favorability among GOP voters. Despite his problems with the base, Bush was at least at +18 in the same poll — and Rubio is even better, at +23. Christie is in a lot of trouble, to the benefit of Rubio in the race for some establishment backing.

Florida Senate seat now a Toss-up

Rubio’s presidential ambitions leave an open U.S. Senate seat to be contested in 2016. We had previously listed the GOP as slight favorites in case Rubio opted to seek reelection, but now it’s time to make a change. With Rubio’s announcement, we are moving the 2016 Florida Senate contest from Leans Republican to Toss-up.

Table 1: Crystal Ball Senate ratings change

Now the question is, who will run on the Republican side? The GOP has a deep bench in Florida, controlling a large majority of the U.S. House delegation, all but one statewide office (the other Senate seat, held by Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson), and the state legislature. Before Rubio’s announcement, there was a major shake-up in the still-forming Republican field when Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater (R) stunned everyone by deciding against a Senate bid; he may well run for governor in 2018. Atwater may have been able to clear the field, but now the GOP nomination race appears wide open.

With Atwater’s decision, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera (R) is more likely to enter the contest. Lopez-Cantera will be fighting against history, however, as the lieutenant governorship has not been a gateway to future electoral success in Florida. Among the GOP House delegation, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R) is viewed as most likely to throw his hat in the ring — he has been compared to new Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) as an Ivy League veteran who has earned backing from conservative groups like the Club for Growth. Reps. Tom Rooney (R) and Vern Buchanan (R) have also garnered mention, as has ex-state Speaker of the House Will Weatherford (R).

A former occupant of this seat, ex-Sen. George LeMieux (R), has also acknowledged some interest in a Senate run. LeMieux was appointed by then-Gov. Charlie Crist (R) to serve out the remainder of former Sen. Mel Martinez’s (R) term after Martinez resigned in 2009, with the expectation that Crist would run for the seat himself in 2010. As it turned out, Rubio challenged Crist on his right flank and wound up pushing him out of the GOP primary. Crist decided to run as an independent, but finished a distant second to Rubio in the 2010 general election; Crist later became a Democrat and narrowly lost to Gov. Rick Scott (R) in the 2014 gubernatorial contest. Given LeMieux’s failed Senate effort in 2012 — he dropped out prior to the GOP primary — it’s difficult to imagine him winning if he were to run this time.

While we are obviously focused on 2016, the maneuvering for Rubio’s seat on the Republican side has serious consequences for the GOP fields in the 2018 gubernatorial and Senate contests in Florida (Nelson will face reelection in 2018). Besides Atwater, other big Republican names have either already passed on the 2016 Senate race or are expected to: State Attorney General Pam Bondi (R) has declined to run and state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam (R) probably will too, though it’s possible they may reconsider in light of Atwater’s decision. But if they don’t, the 2018 cycle could offer some real primary election drama in Florida, especially if Rubio fails to win the Republican presidential nomination. Rubio could target the governorship as a means to gain executive experience to boost a future presidential run — after all, he’ll only be 45 years old in November 2016. Meanwhile, Scott is rumored to be eyeing Nelson’s Senate seat, and some combination of Atwater, Bondi, and Putnam may run for one office or the other.

On the Democratic side, Rep. Patrick Murphy (D) entered the 2016 Senate race prior to Rubio’s presidential announcement and remains the only noteworthy candidate. The centrist Murphy has attracted a great deal of establishment support, especially with the possibility of a run by the more liberal (and contentious) Rep. Alan Grayson (D). Should Grayson run, the Democratic primary could get ugly and expensive — and if Grayson is the nominee, the Republican nominee is likely to be the favorite in the general election. Murphy, a former Republican, is the kind of moderate Democrat who historically has had success in Florida.

Florida is one of the three or four most important swing states in American politics, and it should be little surprise that an open-seat, presidential-year Senate contest could wind up being extremely competitive. At this point, polls won’t tell us much, though Quinnipiac just took a very early look at four potential matchups involving Murphy or Grayson and Atwater or Lopez-Cantera (though Atwater is out now). What we do know is that a mountain of money and resources will be thrown into this state by both parties — both the presidency and control of the Senate could depend on it.


2016 Republican Nomination: The Race “Officially” Begins

Pence is sent packing as Paul announces

Larry J. Sabato, Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley April 9th, 2015

Last week, a Crystal Ball reader sent us an e-mail asking if now would be the time to remove “low name ID nationally” from our list of negatives for possible presidential aspirant Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN). We absolutely agree, given the turmoil surrounding Indiana’s new religious freedom law: There’s little question that name identification is no longer a problem for the Hoosier State governor.

However, we have a more permanent correction for Pence’s entry in our list of potential 2016 Republican candidates: removing him entirely. As we said last week, a Pence presidential run in the aftermath of the controversy over the new law seems unlikely, and in light of that, we’re taking him off.

On the one hand, Pence’s defense of the law certainly bolstered his support from social conservatives, becoming something of a cause célèbre to national commentators on the right. On the other hand, the entire episode has made him radioactive to the party establishment, at least in the near term.

Summing it up, one smart Republican told us, “He went from dark horse to dead horse about as quickly as anyone I can remember.”

As what we’ve called a “governor alternative,” Pence would need for some big names — say former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) or Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) — to run into significant problems early on to have a shot at the presidential nomination. Under that scenario, major party players would search for alternatives to defeat candidates like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) or Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who scare the party establishment to death.

But now the religious freedom law controversy has frightened establishment backers. And with so many anti-establishment names in the field or looking to get in, Pence probably would not run as a quasi-outsider candidate, which he almost certainly would have to do now if he wanted to jump in. Moreover, his decision in the face of substantial pressure to ask the legislature to adjust the law cannot have pleased the social conservatives who initially defended his stance.

In light of these developments, Pence will almost surely turn his attention fully to winning reelection as governor, a race where he will be favored. (We moved it from Safe Republican to Likely Republican last week, but Pence remains a solid bet to secure another term at this early point.)

Our list of Republican contenders is now shorter by a name — but it’s still 19 names long. And the candidates are starting to “officially” enter the race.

Earlier this week, Rand Paul jumped into the Republican primary mix, even though it seems as though he has been gearing up for a presidential run ever since he was elected to the Senate in 2010. A couple of weeks ago, Ted Cruz made his announcement, which, again, surprised no one, given that he too appeared to be a likely candidate about as soon as he entered the Senate in 2013. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), another relative newcomer who seemed a likely eventual candidate at some point in his career once he got elected to the Senate in 2010, is likely to announce his bid next week. And Hillary Clinton’s long-anticipated official entry could happen any day now.

Paul could get a bump from his announcement rollout: Cruz, it appears, did. There have been four national polls of the Republican primary electorate since Cruz’s announcement on March 23. He has polled in the double digits in all of them after failing to register that high in any single national poll conducted after the 2014 midterms. The Cruz bump provides a lesson. Just because these “announcements” are anti-climactic to hardcore politicos, who have rightly assumed many of these politicians were candidates all but in name before the official hoopla, the actual rollout generates positive media interest that can show up in surveys.

It will be interesting to see if Paul, who consistently polls in the high-single or low-double digits nationally, gets a similar kind of boost.

Paul’s motto is “Defeat the Washington Machine, Unleash the American Dream,” a slogan that works on many levels. As a libertarian-inclined Republican, Paul says he wants to shrink the size and scope of government, although in truth when we watched his Tuesday announcement speech we didn’t think a lot of his positions on the size of government sounded all that much different from standard GOP boilerplate. But the slogan also gets at his populist “outsider” position in the Republican Party, which owes both to his bloodline — his father, Ron, was even more of an anti-establishment figure during his runs for the GOP nomination in 2008 and 2012 — and his actual policy positions, particularly on reducing the size of America’s global military footprint and the scope of the national security state. This includes his criticism of the massive data collection efforts used by the National Security Agency to (potentially) snoop on the private lives of Americans.

However, when Paul attacks the national security state and rules out “nation-building” abroad, he is also attacking the party’s neoconservative foreign policy elite, which supports those efforts. Dumping on the NSA is a rebuke of President Obama, but it’s also a rebuke of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, whose hawkish policies both at home and abroad represent the consensus in the GOP. There was a time when one could imagine Paul’s foreign policy dovishness gaining real traction amongst Republicans, but that time has very probably passed. The varied threats of the Islamic State, Syria, and Russia, not to mention the GOP’s strong defense of the priorities of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition to the deal Obama is pursuing with Iran over its nuclear program, tell us that the 2016 nomination battle will reward those who speak loudly and carry a big stick. That just is not Rand Paul.

Let’s put it another way: It’s almost unimaginable to think the Republicans will nominate a candidate who is less hawkish than Hillary Clinton. But if they choose Paul, that’s what the GOP would be doing.

The removal of Pence is the only real change to our presidential rankings, which are shown below in Table 1. We still see Bush, Walker, and Rubio at the top of the heap. Let’s see what kind of bump Paul gets from his announcement: We currently have him placed just above Cruz in the No. 4 slot on the ratings, but one could argue that Cruz is a more conventional Republican on national security and foreign policy, and thus might have better odds to win the nomination.

Table 1: 2016 Crystal Ball Republican presidential primary rankings

First Tier: The Leading Contenders
Candidate Key Primary Advantages Key Primary Disadvantages
Jeb Bush
Ex-Governor, FL
•Conservative gubernatorial resume
•National Bush money and organization, has already raised huge sums
•Personifies establishment, which typically produces GOP nominees
•Bush fatigue is real
•Support for Common Core and immigration reform
•Personifies establishment, which grassroots loathes
Scott Walker
Governor, WI
•Heroic conservative credentials
•Checks boxes for many wings of party
•Already clear he’s not next Pawlenty — getting serious attention and early momentum
•Needs to raise mountains of $
•Has had some minor, early missteps
•Does lack of college degree matter? (We don’t think so)
•Early peaking will open him up to attacks from others
Marco Rubio
Senator, FL
•Dynamic speaker and politician
•Potential appeal to party insiders and outsiders
•Short time in Senate, which Obama proved could be a plus
•Bush ahead of him in Florida pecking order
•Went left on immigration, hurt him with base
•Increased stature in field will attract opposition attacks
Second Tier: The Outsiders
Rand Paul
Senator, KY
•Reaching out to diverse audience
•Strong support from libertarian and Tea Party wings
•National ID and fundraising network; benefits from father’s previous efforts
•Hawks, rather than doves, in vogue in current GOP
•Association with out-of-mainstream father
•Competing with many other “outsiders”
Ted Cruz
Senator, TX
•Dynamic debater and canny, often underestimated politician
•Got a bounce from early announcement
•Anti-establishment nature plays well with base
•Too extreme?
•Disliked on both sides of the Senate aisle
•Strong Tea Party support ensures establishment resistance to candidacy
Mike Huckabee
Ex-Governor, AR
•Already vetted in 2008 and well-known from his Fox News program
•Blue collar appeal
•Strong support from social conservatives
•Southerner in Southern-based party
•Disliked by establishment for economic populism and social views — party leaders don’t think he’s electable
•Small fundraising base
•Has he been passed by newer, flashier candidates?
Ben Carson
Neurosurgeon and activist
•Adored by Tea Party grassroots
•Diversity + conservatism
•Good on TV
•No political experience whatsoever
•Gaffe-prone
•Little chance of establishment backing and funding
Rick Santorum
Ex-Senator, PA
•Strong support from social conservatives
•2nd place finisher in 2012 — next in line?
•Been around primary track
•Harder to stand out in much stronger 2016 field
•Lost last Senate race by 17%
•Not as economically conservative as others
•Competing with many other social conservatives
Third Tier: The Governor Alternatives
Chris Christie Governor, NJ •Commanding speaker
•Made a lot of friends with successful RGA stint
•Honeymoon in NJ is long over
•Fallen behind Bush and Rubio in establishment race
•Weak national numbers
John Kasich
Governor, OH
•Long moderate-conservative record plus two terms as swing-state Ohio governor
•Could be fallback for GOP establishment forces
•Supported Medicaid expansion, backs Common Core
•Long record to scrutinize
•Time running out for him to get real as a candidate
Rick Perry
Ex-Governor, TX
•Running vigorously and has strong campaign team
•2012 campaign so poor that he may now be underrated
•Bombed in much weaker 2012 field
•Hard to make a second first impression
Bobby Jindal
Governor, LA
•Deep and wide experience
•Knows how to toss red meat to base
•Better on paper than on stump
•Controversial tenure in Louisiana
Fourth Tier: The Gadflies and Golden Oldies
Lindsey Graham
Senator, SC
•Prominent Obama critic
•Generally liked by party leaders/establishment
•Media savvy and hawkish views on foreign policy
•Vehemently disliked by grassroots
•Immigration reform efforts hurt him with conservatives
Carly Fiorina
Former business executive
•The only woman in the field, party leaders want her on stage
•Very wealthy, could self-fund
•Lost only race (2010 Senate) badly
•Largely unknown, no base of support
•Just making a play for VP?
Peter King
Representative, NY
•Foreign policy expertise — and hardline views
•Media savvy; frequent TV appearances
•Probably not conservative enough
•Small base of support (candidates from House rarely win)
George Pataki
Ex-Governor, NY
•Very long elective experience in a big (Democratic) state — plus 9/11 experience •Zero grassroots excitement
Jim Gilmore
Ex-Governor, VA
•Record as tax-cutter
•Military record, intelligence officer during Cold War
•Not strong on the stump
•Left office in 2002: “Jim Who?”
•Lost 2008 Senate race by 31 points
Bob Ehrlich
Ex-Governor, MD
•Federal and state government experience •Lost twice to…Martin O’Malley
•No rationale for candidacy
John Bolton
Ex-Ambassador to the United Nations
•Foreign policy experience and hawkish views •All foreign policy, little domestic profile
•No electoral experience or donor base

List changes
Subtractions: Gov. Mike Pence (IN)