The biggest story of 2015 has been the race for president. This has been unfortunate because it will also be the biggest story of 2016.
Despite this year being the prelude to the rest of the 2016 campaign, this year’s coverage of the presidential race dominated the news. The Republicans have an entertainer with high name id topping the polls and the Democrats have their anointed one, a well-known establishment figure with high name id. For the Republicans, a packed field, making the GOP nomination a contest, has contributed to all the coverage, while the Democrats, content with their coronation, have been relaxed in watching the Republicans duke it out. And with an increasingly unpopular president who has nothing to campaign for, the media is fine with focusing their attention on next year’s big race.
We have been paying close attention as well. Our rankings listed on the right-hand sidebar on the main page, have had a tumultuous time trying to maintain. We have not yet endorsed and we have ranked the candidates in the same categories while adjusting and reshuffling the order as the campaign has progressed.
In general, we like governors for president. Executive experience is important. Governors have a lot to handle, making their day-to-day similar to a presidents’. Early on we liked governors Scott Walker and Rick Perry. But they were first to drop out. After we reshuffled and took a more thorough look at some of the candidates we moved another governor, Bobby Jindal, into the top tier. Three weeks later he dropped out. Right now, we have Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, former Governor Mike Huckabee and Doctor Ben Carson in our top tier.
In the second tier we have the two biggest movers in the field. Governor Chris Christie has moved up from our No Thanks category to the top of our second tier due to a strong campaign message, a smart campaign organization, good debate performances, and a solid record of working with law enforcement. Christie began near the bottom on our list because he rates poorly on a lot of conservative organizations’ policy scorecards, but Christie has proved during the campaign that he could be a strong president. More on Christie to come from us as the campaign continues.
Senator Marco Rubio represents the candidate who has fallen the farthest during the campaign. Rubio began in our top tier, leading the list at one point. But we don’t like some of his answers for his record in the Senate. His campaign message is becoming blurred, lacking substantive content, probably in an effort to court as many moderate Republicans as possible. The establishment is starting to abandon Governors John Kasich and Jeb, which has been Rubio’s gain. Even Rep. Barbara Comstock endorsed the bright-eyed Rubio and that should be a red flag on its own. And his poor attendance in casting votes in the Senate makes him vulnerable as a candidate in the General Election. But then again, Rep. Trey Gowdy is now on board with Rubio, so we haven’t given up on him yet. Joining Christie and Rubio are businesswoman Carly Fiorina, and Governors John Kasich and Jim Gilmore, who have given us no reason to shuffle them out of our second tier.
The No Thanks category is where you’ll find businessman and entertainer Donald Trump, along with Jeb. They have been there from the start and we don’t expect them to move. Senator Lindsey Graham was in there too, but we’re glad he is out.
So the campaign in 2015 had a significant impact on how we see the Republican candidates for president. No endorsement just yet, but if the election were tomorrow we would vote for Senator Rand Paul. His number one issue is the National Debt, which should be everyone’s number one issue. During the last debate, Paul said, “we are not projecting strength from bankruptcy court.” He is right on with that. But the election is not tomorrow so our vote is still officially out. Virginia goes to vote in this nomination contest on March 1st, Super Tuesday, so there is still time to figure things out. Stay tuned.