2016 Republican Presidential Power Rankings

Who Has The Best Shot at Eventually Winning the Nomination?

Donald Trump
Scott Olson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

(Rankings Updated 1/25/2016)

These rankings are not based exclusively - or even heavily - on polling data, but instead on a combination of factors including debate performances, favorability ratings, evidence of momentum, and general campaign activity. Who will move up, down, or out of this these rankings moving forward?

OFF: Paul, Huckabee, Pataki, Santorum, Carly Fiorina

 

7. Ben Carson (Previous: 5) - Carson is just in a free-fall right now and he appears to be putting all of his eggs in Iowa.

Though he had strong poll numbers, his support levels were always soft in regards to those who were "definitely" voting for him. They seem to have gravitated towards Cruz for the time being. Carson is still popular enough to do some damage in Iowa, but his dreams of being a legitimate contender seem over.

6. Jeb Bush (Previous: 6) - Just about everybody has written off the 100-Million-Dollar-Man, and he has outspent opponents big time with nothing to show for it. Has Jeb had a single good moment in 6 months?  His message gets lost in constant word stumbles and poor phrasing. On a stage of smooth-talkers, his ineloquence is becoming a liability. This was supposed to be the shock-and-awe campaign that scared everyone away. The opposite happened. What the polling data shows is that Jeb better find a way to start getting Republicans to really like him. Much of Trump's appeal seems to be that everyone is afraid Jeb will get the nomination.

But that's starting to seem far less likely.

5. Chris Christie (Previous: 4) - Before the debate, I said this: "He still has some Northeastern appeal, but he would need Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich to have serious meltdowns." Jeb Bush his flailing, and Christie probably had the 3rd best showing at the 3rd debate.

Christie is a great talker, and he is reminding us of when he was a favorite a few short years ago. But there are probably still too many negatives to imagine him pulling this off. But he could spoil some things for Rubio in New Hampshire.

4. John Kasich (Previous: 8) - Kasich feels like he was plucked out of central casting as a 1990s-era Presidential candidate. He's definitely the kind of moderate, boring candidate that the GOP is known for nominating. He has gone all-in in New Hampshire, a geographically-friendly state. He could end up second there and be "the establishment" pick.

3. Marco Rubio (Previous: 1) - Rubio loses the top spot and we no longer think he has the best odds at winning the nomination. His plan to surge with the help of high-powered endorsements has not materialized a week out from Iowa, and he remains in a distant third place in Iowa and in a jumble for distant second in New Hampshire. I received the endorsement of the Des Moines Register, but his lack of a lane - he's neither establishment nor anti-establishment - seems to have left him in neutral with no core base.

2. Ted Cruz (Previous: 2) - Cruz was finally forced to go after Trump after a long political bromance, but it may be too little to late, as he is a very distant second everywhere (except Texas).

If anything, his actions gave Trump more power than he would otherwise have and talk radio and conservative media never had to choose between the duo. Cruz' strategy of not attacking Trump was almost exclusively reliant on having "the establishment" do it for him, and frankly they have refused to do so. When Cruz did pivot, he simply did not get enough anti-establishment leaders to move to him from Trump.

1. Donald Trump (Previous: 2) - Trump remains an incoherent mess and, magically, 10 points ahead or more just about everywhere. The mainstream and conservative media are fueling his campaign, and he picked up an endorsement from Sarah Palin. Nobody dealt with him seriously from the start, and now he may be unstoppable. In the first debate, he praised socialized medicine and bragged about his role in buying off politicians for business favors.

He threatened to run as a 3rd party candidate for leverage, and then doubled-down on his theory that the Mexican government was intentionally sending criminals across the border. In the second debate, Carly Fiorina got the better of him time and time again, and Trump continued to show absolutely no interest in developing policy positions. Does he have any campaign infrastructure? Does he really think people believe he is going to self-fund a billion dollar campaign? I long assumed that those pushing Trump would eventually pivot away to Cruz, and now that we are 1 weeks away that has not happened. (But we think this has more to do with Cruz not seizing the opportunity.) Until someone actually does damage to Trump, or unless Talk Radio backs away, he's the one to beat.