2016 Republican Presidential Race Update

PresidentialSealby N. A. Halkides   1/29/16
As the first actual primaries and caucuses are almost upon us, I’d like to present a quick analysis of where things stand, but first I’d like to review two of the drop-outs as I think their failures are instructive.

Scott Walker – A year ago I viewed him as an Establishment-Man more dangerous than Marco Rubio because so many had mistaken him for a Conservative, but on September 21 he dropped out.  Why?  Three basic factors seemed to have been his undoing:

  1. Unlike Rubio, he had never actually tried to fool anyone into believing he was a Conservative; he simply got that reputation because of his fight with Wisconsin’s public-sector unions – a fight which in fact he hadn’t intended to pick when he made what he thought was a proposal for modest health insurance reform.  He didn’t have Rubio’s talent for deception, and perhaps we should do him the courtesy of presuming he had no inclination for it either, but either way he found it difficult to maintain the illusion of Conservatism, especially when –
  2. – he flip-flopped on immigration, suddenly exuding a concern for the displacement of American workers he had never shown before when he had said that the basic problem with immigration was that it was too hard to get into America legally.  I thought it showed a certain amount of clear calculation on his part – his immigration stance had indeed been the strongest knock against him as far as many voters were concerned – but a lot of Republicans weren’t buying his change of heart.
  3. His Conservative reputation prevented him from getting the support of the GOP Establishment, who hedged their bets on Jeb! with a side wager on Rubio instead.
  4. The ineptitude of his campaign staff.  From finance to strategy, his team didn’t seem to know what they were doing.  We want the best man to win, not necessarily the best-organized, but time and time again we’ve been reminded that in politics, organization counts for a great deal.  And although Walker had financial support, it apparently wasn’t enough to keep up with the costs of a national campaign staff that numbered around 90 people.  We may well wonder what kind of advice Walker was getting when we consider this report from The Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel:  “Dan Blum, a deputy campaign manager for Walker during his 2012 recall election victory, tweeted that “it was a mistake for candidates to focus on what GOP voters want or appear to want in 2016.”  That’s brilliant advice, Dan – tell your candidate to ignore the wishes of the voters!

Thus Walker, who had basically stumbled into the race by accident, stumbled his way out of it as well.  As to his relevance to the remaining candidates, I would suggest that Ben Carson is the most likely to be forced out due to financial and organizational problems – something difficult to avoid with a man new to politics.

Rick Perry – this was supposed to be a better-prepared Rick Perry than the not-ready-for-prime-time model we saw in 2012, when dissatisfaction with the available alternatives made Perry’s entry into the race easy.  As a matter of fact, he was very much the Donald Trump of 2012 in that he took advantage of an opportunity given by the obvious problems with Romney, Gingrich, and Santorum.  But when he couldn’t name the three cabinet-level departments he wanted to eliminate, people realized he hadn’t given too much thought to what he would do as President, and his star faded rapidly.

This time he simply fizzled without having dazzled, even for a moment.  His basic problem, I believe, was arrogance, specifically the arrogance of the political class, for despite being able to give a good speech on purely economic issues, he could not hide his disrespect for the Party’s base when it came to the issue of immigration.  Perry tried to reduce all the problems of mass immigration down to merely securing the border.  Here is an exchange from his appearance on Hannity in which a clip of Donald Trump was played, showing that Trump had a better understanding of the situation:


TRUMP: When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best.  They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us (sic). They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.  And some, I assume, are good people. But I speak to border guards, and they tell us what we’re getting.


HANNITY: What part of that specifically, Governor, do you disagree with?

PERRY: Well, when he paints with such a broad brush. I think that’s, you know, the challenge that — to make this rhetoric be disrespectful.  And we know what the real challenge is. I mean, I hope who Donald Trump’s really mad at is Washington, D.C., for their failure to secure that border because, I mean, we…

HANNITY: By the way, Governor…


PERRY: … Washington has failed.

HANNITY: Governor, what we’re showing now is when I was down at the border, floor to ceiling drugs confiscated. This was one of my many trips down to the border, as you know — I mean, every drug imaginable flooding into American cities, getting into the veins and the blood system of American children, right there. It is the biggest warehouse you ever saw full of drugs. I was in it.

PERRY: I understand. Our people have been facing this for years, and Washington has failed to do its duty. One of the reasons I’m running for the presidency of the United States is so that there will be a president who understands and goes to the Oval Office every day with the intent to secure that border and to make America more secure.

HANNITY: Governor, I want to put up a chart showing 23.4 percent of federal prisoners are non-citizens. My question to you is, what should — you know, we now have a situation where this guy, you know, a seven-time felon! Five times, he was sent back, you know, and we did not protect the family of this woman, Kate Steinle. And she is just one of — you know, if you look at the 36,007 people that we let loose, of all those people, 426 were convicted of assault, 193 for homicide convictions after we let them out of prison!

Why would — why is there no law on the books protecting Americans from those people that we know are criminals? Why would we ever let them back out into our streets?

PERRY: Because there is no will in Washington, D.C., to do their constitutional duty, that’s why. I mean, we have been screaming at the top of our lungs in this state for a long time about Washington not doing their constitutional duty to secure that border.

“Washington has failed.”  “Secure the border”.  These are comfortable little talking points that Perry repeated over and over, and indeed the border does need to be secured.  But to imagine that merely doing that, while continuing to allow the same or higher levels of immigration than we have today, is going to solve the crime and economic problems associated with mass immigration is just plain <i>loco</i>, as they might say down in Texas.  What good would it do to change the status of violent aliens from illegal to legal?  Once again, Trump had voiced the anger of the common man at seeing his country overrun with criminal illegal aliens (perhaps we should call them <i>double</i> criminal illegals since every illegal is by definition a criminal) and Perry had taken the side of the I’m-a-better-person-than-you-are open borders elite.

No doubt Perry does not understand to this day what he did wrong.  Apart from having a mediocre intellect, Perry’s great failing seems to be, to repeat, the arrogance common to today’s governing class.  The remaining candidates hindered by these shortcomings would appear to be Jeb!, Christie, Kasich, and Rubio – not by coincidence Establishment-men all.  Rubio is doing the best of these four and is also the most deceptive, and that isn’t coincidence either – the Establishment and its preferred amnesty/open-borders policies are not very popular at the moment.

And that brings us up to date:  the debates are over and the voting is about to begin.  Here are the latest numbers from the Real Clear Politics averages:

Trump 31, Cruz 21, Rubio 10, Carson 9, Bush 5, Christie 1, Paul 4, Kasich 2, Fiorina 2, Huckabee 1, Santorum 1

The good news is that last six of these are definitely out of the race.  None of them except possibly Fiorina would have had any chance in the general election, and none of them would have made a good President (for more on why I say this, see last year’s A Review of the Likely 2016 Republican Candidates).  ¡Jeb! is hanging on by a thread, but has enough money that he could stay in the race for a while if he wants to.  Rubio is in a virtual tie with Carson for third place; it’s hard to imagine both of them surviving financially after the first few primaries.  My guess is that Rubio’s Establishment support and greater guile (Carson appears quite genuine) will ultimately prevail, but we’ll see.

So it’s probably going to come down to Trump, Cruz, and the #3 man, either Rubio or Carson.  Despite repeated predictions from most quarters, Trump has not self-destructed and appears likely to place first or second in the early primaries.  He also obviously has the money to keep on running as long as he wants to.  Cruz has shown more political astuteness and deeper financial resources than I expected.  He wisely avoided picking a fight with Trump early on, realizing that today’s Trump voter could be tomorrow’s Cruz voter.  Rubio and Carson still have a shot since it appears that Trump and Cruz will prevent each other from obtaining a majority in the early primaries.  And should they both stay in the race to the end, a brokered convention now appears possible, although we should never forget that the RNC has done everything possible in terms of rigging the Party’s rules to favor the Establishment.

A brokered GOP convention, Hillary Clinton running as the Democratic nominee while under Federal indictment, Joe Biden taking over for her at the behest of Party elders, a close general election obviously stolen by the Democrats, a Donald Trump or Ted Cruz Presidency – any of these things are possible.  The only thing we can be sure of is that 2016 will be an interesting year.

Nik is a freelance writer, former professor, and has written for FrontPage Magazine.
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23 Responses to 2016 Republican Presidential Race Update

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    Unfortunately, it may well be interesting as in the Chinese “may you live in interesting times”. It’s already been a strange campaign before a single vote has been cast.

    • Tom Riehl Tom Riehl says:

      Timothy, I think the underlying reason for the current strangeness is that the rule book has been burned by Trump. For example, if the media offers some time in front of a camera, John McCain and his fellow betrayers are compelled to don their finest suits, bought by you and me, and mug for the viewers while spouting the drivel Rosalys so aptly euphemised as horse hockey. Trump knows the game is rigged and is the only one bold enough to call hockey hockey.

  2. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    I think your analysis is correct and after South Carolina, latest, there will only be Trump, Cruz and another.

    I have suspected for sometime that Trump will win the nomination. But we must wait and see how Iowa turns out. If Trump wins there, then I think he will be just about unstoppable. N.H. appears to be his for the taking as does S. Carolina.

    If he loses Iowa to Cruz, N.H. may become a little more difficult, but I still believe things are in his favor.

    A note about Perry. Although he is Texas’ longest serving governor, he was not that popular. He did not win a majority in his second election. But no one wanted David Dewhurst as governor so there was no push for him to retire. It seems the present governor, Greg Abbott, did not wish to have an internal party fight with Perry so waited his turn.

    Nobody here ever thought old Rick was a genius. And, to many, he appeared to be in the pocket of ag, construction and energy interests. (Probably others as well)

  3. Rosalys says:

    “…Hillary Clinton running as the Democratic nominee while under Federal indictment…”

    Hillary will never be indicted. She should be, but the rumors of her demise have been greatly exaggerated. It will be up to voters to put the nails in her political coffin; and a future generation, separated by decades, if not a century, to fully uncover the depth of her depravity. Today’s headline on Drudge, “Clinton Emails “Too Damaging” To Release!” just makes me laugh the derisive laugh of the cynic. What a total crock of horse hockey!

    • Timothy Lane says:

      She conceivably might be after a GOP win, though I wouldn’t bet on it even then. If Obama decides she’s too toxic and that he must shake things up, he could have her indicated and then have the DNC rule that a candidate under federal indictment cannot be nominated, perhaps freeing the convention to nominate Biden.


        That is essentially my view as well, Tim – I think it unlikely that Hillary gets indicted as she deserves, but we should remember that Obama has no love for the Clintons and while he obviously struck some kind of dirty deal with them, he’s not exactly the most honorable guy around. If he thinks it’s somehow to his advantage, or would help the goal of fundamentally transforming America, he won’t hesitate to throw Hillary under the bus as he has thrown so many others.

  4. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    ¡Jeb! is hanging on by a thread, but has enough money that he could stay in the race for a while if he wants to. 

    Hahahahaha. Great insides joke, Nik, with that upside-down illegal-alien exclamation point in front of the name.

    A month is a long time in primary politics. But it’s difficult to imagine the nominee being Bush, Christie, Paul, etc., at this point. I remember reading that winning the Iowa caucuses can mean very little, as long as you are in the running. This Wiki page notes that H.W. Bush won Iowa 32-30 over Reagan in 1980; Bob Dole got 37% of the vote with H.W. a distant 19% in 1988; Huckabee won 34 to 25 over Romney in 2008…McCain was a distant 13%; in 2012, Santorum tied with Romney 25-25.

    The short story is, although the media pundits love a horse race and love to talk about “momentum,” these early caucuses and primaries can mean relatively little, although obviously better to win than lose.

    It’s hard to imagine anyone overtaking Trump at this point except Cruz. And as Mr. Kung mentioned elsewhere, it matters little that Trump doesn’t have a majority. Who does in the early going? I don’t like parroting an Establishment line that Trump somehow has a “ceiling” which means he can’t ever win. Well, that may be so, but better his ceiling than Jeb Bush’s. You can’t win with Jeb Bush’s ceiling but you probably can with Trump’s because the party must nominate someone.

    And as Mr. Kung also mentioned elsewhere, Trump will pick up some “Reagan Democrats,” although I wouldn’t give them that name. Trump’s appeal is not as a doctrinaire Republican (conservative or liberal). He is indeed more of a nationalist. And the idea of fighting for what is good for Americans, not illegal aliens or Muslim invaders, strikes a chord with a great many people. And it also helps that Trump is associated first and foremost with business and the entertainment culture. And I believe his snubbing of Fox News serves this cross-over appeal because most think Fox News is mere “right wing propaganda.” Oh, if only it were, or if only it were mostly actual journalism.

    If Trump is nominated, which I think he will be, he will wipe the floor with Hillary. We’ve already seen that he’s not actually of the Establishment Republican mindset. He’s willing to point out that Hillary has not been a champion of women…she has been, instead, the squelcher of women as when she was the manager of bimbo eruptions in her husband’s presidency.

    Why, you may ask, are Establishment Republicans afraid to attack Hillary (or Obama) on these clear points of vulnerability? That itself is an interesting issue. But clearly Trump is willing to use his opponents’ weaknesses. He’s not self-limiting like the eunuch campaigns of McCain and Romney. And if anyone wants to know why Trump is leading (and why Cruz is #2), it’s because both of these fellows can be depended upon to actually battle the Left and hit them over the head with their own weaknesses instead of playing the testicle-less game that the Establishment Republicans do who define debating one’s opponents on such issues as “divisive.”

    I have sat across the table flabbergasted while top Establishment Republican operatives have given me this schtick. I can’t imagine how they think they can win an election, much less change the culture for the better, by simply surrendering to the Left. It’s very much a case of Stockholm Syndrome whereby the captives (of the media in this case) begin to identify with their captors.

    And that certainly doesn’t explain Trump or Cruz. And if Kevin Williamson and his ilk can’t get this, then they aren’t as smart as they presume themselves to be.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      It was so frustrating in 2012 that Romney could go after his GOP rivals so hard — and then refuse to do the same to the vulnerable Black God.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        That was such a clarifying example of who these Establishment Republicans are. Rush has mentioned that he has heard often of Establishment Republicans who will vote for Hillary instead of Trump if Trump is the candidate. This is why Trump is in the lead (and Cruz #2). People are catching up to the fact that the Establishment Republicans have been lying to them about who they are. They are not “severely conservative.” Few, if any, of them are conservative at all.

        But they need your vote…for now. But it was Jeb who was at least honest enough to say that he planned to win without the base. This also lets you know what they think of us.

        I have a friend who says something like “The Democrats are the party of the evil. The GOP is the party of the stupid.” But given the core deceit of the GOP Establishment, I think “stupid” sells them way short of who they are.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      When the so-called experts react so powerfully to someone running for office, I think it a natural reaction for the common folk, i.e. us, to start wondering what is wrong with the object of their scorn. A number of questions can arise, particularly, “What do they know about him that we don’t know.” Which is too often a way of thinking, “They have some magic formula the rest of us don’t.”

      To put everyone’s mind at rest, the elites work with pretty much the same info as the rest of us. They just pretend they have more info or know better. In fact, they don’t.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      I remember reading that winning the Iowa caucuses can mean very little

      I think this is true, except in Trump’s case. If Trump can win in Iowa before taking New Hampshire, which looks like a shoe-in for him, then I think the race will be just about over.

      Why? The electorates of Iowa and New Hampshire are so different that, if Trump wins both, it will show he has a strong and broad appeal to very different wings of the Republican party, not to mention different parts of the country.

  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I thought this was an unusually insightful and readable piece by Esther Goldberg: Entrepreneurs and Elites. She takes a couple shots at Kevin Williamson as well. Apparently more than just we here have been paying attention.

    I heard Michael Medved say that perhaps Donald Trump skipping the last debate was due to a mental disorder. Look, I’m not going to apologize for Trump any more than I would apologize for Romney, McCain, or Jeb Bush. These people are not as they are advertised.

    But what choice do we have? Yes, Cruz is my #1 choice. But the Republican Establishment and their lackeys have show such utter contempt for the electorate, if Trump is no more than the equivalent of waving the middle finger at them, then they have more than deserved this.

    Also, as Esther points out, these guys are just royalty wannabes. Here at StubbornThings we put our pants on one leg at a time. There should be no pretention to intellectual superiority. We say, “So what that Obama may be technically smarter than Mother Teresa? That’s a very poor measure of the total package.”

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      I think Goldberg does her argument disservice when she brings in two women who became infamous by sex tapes. In this Goldberg sounds like a libertarian.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        It’s pretty slim pickings at The American Spectator these days outside of Jeffrey Lord and George Neumayr. Dan Flynn has even been a bit spotty lately. And Trump, I think, is exposing the thoughtless from the thoughtful…even if Trump himself is a bit of a rough edge.

        One comment I read to an article (and I forget which one) said something like, “For decades, the GOP Establishment has told us to hold our noses and vote for their hand-picked candidate, assuring us that it would all work out. But when the shoe is on the other foot and they are told to hold their noses and support Trump, they balk.”

        I don’t know if Goldberg is a libertarian. But I view libertarianism as a corrupted form of American-style independence-mindedness. The world is full of tattooed dope heads who (perhaps because many don’t have a father at home) see the eradication of limits as the very purpose of a country. That was never the purpose of this country…anarchy, hedonism, and debauchery.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Recall that at the first Fox debate, the candidates were asked if they would guarantee to support the GOP candidate whoever it was, and only Trump didn’t raise his hand. Some of the others (such as Bush) didn’t really mean it.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Speaking of the crackup of yet another conservative site, Donald Boudreaux has an article at The American Spectator: Anyone But Trump

            I would much prefer a Pres. Sanders or a Pres. O’Malley than Trump. (I’m less certain about a Pres. H. Clinton, but I think that I’d even prefer a Pres. H. Clinton to a Pres. Trump.)

            This guy is an idiot. The reasons he gives for preferring anyone but Trump are specious.


        Also, Goldberg applauded Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton because they had been successful, not because they had been good and success followed. That’s the typical Libertarian reduction of the question of value down to a commercial transaction. They ask only: was anybody involved in the transaction coerced? No? Then it must be good!

        The Conservative, while recognizing that government has no right to interfere in the commerce of Kardashian and Hilton would nonetheless object to their commercial success on the grounds that neither had anything of substance to offer: Kardashian “famous for being famous” and Hilton an incredibly tacky heiress. Their success is no more to be celebrated than that of Jay-Z or any other Hip-Hop “artist,” for it signifies a culture in decline.

        Libertarians never worry about culture.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          Libertarians never worry about culture.

          Let me be kind and use a polite metaphor. It is as if Libertarians are color blind. It appears they are unable to see the part of the spectrum which reflects culture. The wave lengths of commerce are the only frequencies they are able to perceive.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          That last line is interesting, and may explain why Ayn Rand didn’t consider herself a libertarian. Whatever one thinks of her conviction that all her tastes were purely rational and anyone who was different was less than perfectly rational, she did at least have some sort of cultural standards. Thus, she accepted that people might like the Beatles — though not her or anyone else rational (in her biased estimation).

  6. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Here’s some recent polling data from New Hampshire. Bernie Sanders is ahead of the Bimbo Eruption Control Chief by 16 points. Trump is 21 points ahead of the field.

    Moran writes:

    Sanders appears ready to score a huge victory and eliminate the sense of inevitability and invulnerability of Hillary Clinton.

    Moran also opines:

    At the very least, Rubio’s poor debate performance stopped whatever momentum he had going into the weekend.  Whatever hope he had of overtaking Trump died on that stage on Friday night.

    Okay, given that we here are usually ahead of the game in terms of analysis (although perhaps not so good at picking winners), you can expect that whichever Establishment candidate does best will be hailed as the comeback kid. It could be Bush.

    Ben Carson, bless the man, needs to get out of the race. I have no idea why he ever thought of running for president. Unless you have large executive experience (such as Washington, Jackson, or Eisenhower had), don’t make the presidency your first political job.

    FYI, Rush opines that if Rubio loses votes that they will go to Cruz.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      And I think both Washington and Jackson had prior experience. Washington was a member of the House of Burgesses and later of the Second Continental Congress (from which he was appointed to be Commander-in-Chief), and also chaired the Constitutional Convention. I’m sure Jackson held some post in Tennessee. Another non-politician general was Grant, who admittedly isn’t an advertisement for such experience (though the corruption was endemic to the time, not really his personal fault).

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