Weren’t we just at a hundred days?! And now we’re halfway from there to the February 1 Iowa caucuses. Amazing. Let’s take a closer look at them.
Unlike the overall Power Rankings I do at the beginning of each month, which ranks the candidates in probability of winning the nomination, today I’d like to do my first Power Rankings for Iowa, which will only rank the candidates in probability of winning its caucuses. Each candidate’s Iowa Real Clear Politics polling average is in parentheses.
Tier 4: No shot
14. George Pataki (0.0)
13. Jim Gilmore (0.0)
12. John Kasich (1.7)
11. Lindsey Graham (0.0)
10. Carly Fiorina (3.0)
Pataki’s pro-choice, Gilmore doesn’t campaign, Kasich is focusing on New Hampshire, Graham’s crusade isn’t connecting, and Fiorina has disappeared from relevance.
Tier 3: Fringe of Contention
9. Jeb Bush (4.7)
8. Rand Paul (4.0)
7. Rick Santorum (1.3)
6. Mike Huckabee (2.0)
5. Chris Christie (2.0)
It seems Bush had been ruled out by most Republicans, and Iowa was never his kind of state as it was, but at least he still has money and party support to keep him on life support. Paul’s father had a great Iowa organization that earned him fifth place in 2008 and third in 2012; can Rand fire up that base? So far, no such luck. Santorum and Huckabee were surprise Iowa winners in 2008 and 2012, respectively. The fact that they have yet to gain traction despite the entire state clearly knowing who they are is not a good sign, but maybe they can bottle some lightning one more time. Christie is more a New Hampshire candidate, but his retail politics ability makes him the candidate outside of the “Big Four” that has the best chance to pull a Huckabee/Santorum run. That said, he’s not exactly your classic evangelical darling, so he’s well back of the next four candidates.
Speaking of the Big Four, take a look at these four polling trend-lines from the Huffington Post aggregate of Iowa polls (which has slightly different numbers than RCP). Rank them in order of which one you’d want to be. Take your time. I’ll be waiting below.
Chances are you either wanted to be the maroon or light blue lines, and you ranked last the descending purple one. I agree. Therefore:
Tier 2: Puncher’s Chance
4. Ben Carson (15.7) (purple line)
3. Marco Rubio (13.7) (light red)
Tier 1: Co-favorites
2. Donald Trump (25.7) (maroon)
1. Ted Cruz (22.3) (light blue)
Carson’s fourth place ranking is almost self-explanatory. While his Iowa average is so much higher than everyone ranked below him that he couldn’t possibly be ranked outside of the top four, his plummeting numbers are about to be overtaken by the slowly rising Rubio unless there’s a drastic shake-up. Rubio then earns the third place ranking due to that crawling climb and potential to be the clear establishment choice at the end of January, but he can be ranked no higher due to being so far behind the co-favorites, who are also trending up.
As for those co-favorites, take a look at the trend lines again, but this time, look at where they were at the beginning of the chart compared to the end of it. Trump might have a nice lead as of today, but he hasn’t climbed over the last three months. It goes without saying that he’s experiencing a turbulent campaign. Cruz, on the hand, is experiencing steady growth. He’s on course to pass Trump in the next month or so. By no means is he a lock — after all, I did make them co-favorites — but he has the edge. My biggest concern, actually, is that he’s doing too well too soon. (There’s a bit of irony here that my 25:1 sleeper pick from over two months ago is now doing too well that it’s making me rethink it.) It’s much better to pop in the last month than a couple months too early. Just ask Dr. Carson.
Boom, five-post week. I’m demanding my salary be doubled by WordPress.