Wednesday, December 23, 2015

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: The GOP Finalists Emerge

There was welcome news for most Republicans in recent days
as 5 or 6 of their presidential candidates emerged for the next
phase of the party’s nomination competition.

These include Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie,
Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, and possibly, John Kasich.

Of course, without any voting yet taking place, this list might
change by a name or two, but it has become clearer which
aspirants have what it takes to vie seriously in 2016.

I do not include Ben Carson, although he will almost certainly
qualify for the next main GOP debate on January 15. Carly
Fiorina and John Kasich, each for different reasons, remain
significant vice presidential candidates. Rand Paul has said
that if he is not included in the next main debate, he will
refuse to participate in the second tier debate, a petulance
that spells the end of his campaign.

The other candidates, most of whom have had good political
experience and past high office, so far are not measuring up on
the campaign trail.

I base this assessment only partially on the opinion polls so
far, most of which have been evaluated as misleading, poorly
taken, and woefully inadequate about measuring what “likely
voters” will do in upcoming primaries and caucuses.

I repeat, without any real votes, this assessment is ultimately
guesswork, but I do think we have seen enough of the candidates
to date to make a list of finalists.

The next GOP debate will be on January 15. It is likely to be
even more confrontive than the earlier ones. It will be followed
by the first voting Iowa.

This does not mean that the non-finalists will all drop out soon.
Most, in all likelihood, will remain in the race until Iowa and
New Hampshire. But going to Super Tuesday on March 1, a
candidate will need campaign funds and good news to keep going.

For Mr. Gilmore, Mr. Santorum, Mr. Huckabee, Mr. Paul, Mr.
Carson, and Mr. Pataki, going beyond March 1 (if they continue
to trail badly) will likely begin to make them look ridiculous
and/or simply vain. Few politicians are willing to endure this.

Mr. Walker, Mr. Jindal, Mr. Perry, Mr. Graham have already
wisely withdrawn for the race. At least one of them might be
back for another try in a future cycle, but 2016 was not their

The list of finalists, however, covers a wide range of experience,
personalities, and skills. There remains much political mystery
and probable unexpected turns ahead.

Copyright (c) 2015 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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