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2016 GOP Nomination: Dark Horse Candidates To Watch

2016 GOP Nomination: Dark Horse Candidates To Watch

Perry, Christie, Fiorina

In the summer of 2011, the GOP candidate sitting on top of the polls was Texas Governor Rick Perry. By October of 2011, it was Herman Cain who was leading the polls with Mitt Romney in second. Rick Perry went into a freefall after his “Oops” moment at one of the what seemed like 1000 GOP debates.

Two candidates in the summer of 2011 were languishing at the bottom of the polls: Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. Both of whom went on to win primary season races. Santorum won the Iowa caucuses, and Gingrich won the South Carolina primary.

As we head into the first GOP debate and into the fall when people will really start to pay attention to the race, it will be interesting to see where the polls start to move. For the last several weeks there have been several tiers of candidates according to the numbers:

  • Top Tier
    Donald Trump
    Jeb Bush
    Scott Walker
  • Second Tier
    Marco Rubio
    Mike Huckabee
    Rand Paul
    Ben Carson
    Ted Cruz
  • Third Tier
    Rick Perry
    Chris Christie
    John Kasich
    Bobby Jindal
    Rick Santorum
    Carly Fiorina
    George Pataki

It’s within that bottom tier where I think there may be 2-3 candidates who may be doing much better in the late fall than they are here in late summer.

1. Rick Perry – Perry surprisingly sits this low. I suspect that a good portion of that lack of support stems from the fact this is his second time around and his fall was so spectacular in 2011 that GOP voters are thinking he may have to sell himself again. He’s been the fiercest critic of Donald Trump, but it hasn’t helped much. Still, Rick Perry boasts a very impressive record as Governor and as more people start paying attention, they’ll get to see that. On everything from jobs to education, Texas is very impressive.

The only downside for Perry is this is a very good GOP field and others ahead of him in the polls right now such as Rubio, Walker, and Paul are getting plenty of the attention Perry might have attracted otherwise.

2. Chris Christie – I know this will get some darts thrown my way. I’m not saying Christie wins the nomination. I am merely suggesting he’s in a better position in several months than he is now. Christie is spending some money aggressively on ads, and he is using his experience as a federal prosecutor to make his case for being somebody voters can trust on national security. He has the “straight talk” people find appealing with Donald Trump but can offer more substance behind it.

Christie’s downside are some of the positions he has had to take on issues like gun control being a Governor in a northeast state, and primary voters are not going to forget him getting chummy with President Obama and eviscerating Congressional Republicans over Hurricane Sandy relief.

3. Carly Fiorina – Of all the candidates who are languishing near the bottom of the polls (she’s currently behind Rick Santorum in the RCP polling average), Fiorina is one of the most impressive. She’s excellent in interviews and knows the issues and policies up and down. There is never any hesitation when she speaks, and she has largely trained her sights not on other Republicans, but on Hillary Clinton alone. And she has pulled no punches when doing so.

Her downside is that she has no government experience she can point to (and while it may appeal to some people that she’s not in government, people react better to executives – ie, Governors who have a record to point to) and people will be sure to bring up her tenure as CEO of Hewlett-Packard despite it not being as bad as people seem to think.

Several months is a lifetime in politics and voters are often fickle. The candidate near the bottom of the pile right now could be the favorite by December. Time will tell.


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Chris Cristie? Allow me to throw the first dart.

And I will second the dart on Christie! :<)

Stop it with the Christie! I am from NJ and I voted for him for GOV because he is conservative FOR NJ. He’s a liberal squish! Everyone in NJ is a liberal squish! (Please forgive me conservatives who are planning their escape for slandering you with generalities) The good people of this state simply do not value freedom. They hunger for security, and will trade all of our rights to get it.

Christie didn’t pardon the innocent Americans exercising their 2nd amendment rights. This is not a free state, and he hasn’t done diddly to change that.

Christie lost 2016 with most Americans when he buddied up to Obama and kicked Romney to the curb. All of the Obama fiascos post 2012 Christie played his part in Obama’s re-election. Christie is better off running as a Democrat.

I was sure you were going to name Kasich to move up. I don’t care for him but I would vote for him over Christie. I think Trump will continue to see his numbers rise and may even have some crossover appeal with the Reagan Democrats.

I’m willing to bet none of those three will improve more than a few points.

Perry and Fiorina both have possibilities as those ahead of them falter. Christie’s gun control record excludes him from consideration for the GOP nomination, sorry. Forget the rest, that alone kills him dead.

It’s a shame that some others with records of achievement won’t get the attention, but it’s a strong field across the board this cycle. Having such a strong bench works against some of our talented candidates.

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Of course, it is all irrelevant if those whose top choices don’t win desert the party next fall. And we have our share who appear to vote on their emotional reactions, so it is a concern.

    Henry Hawkins in reply to Estragon. | August 2, 2015 at 9:25 am

    Ah, so anyone who rejects Jeb Bush does so only on emotional reaction, right?

    Worst. GOP. Salesman. Ever.

zombietimeshare | August 2, 2015 at 7:43 am

So the big shot against Fiorina is “Her downside is that she has no government experience…”? Last I checked the career politicians, you know,the experts, are the ones who got us into the current mess. It is often said insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Maybe it is time to try a different solution?

Rick Perry convinced us that’s he’s an idiot in 2012 and he’s doubling down on idiocy for 2016. The man can’t think on his feet and can barely put an understandable sentence together.

Your “second” tier candidates, Huckabee and Carson, are bottom-third tier. There is no way they’re going to get the nomination, and any support they have right now is lingering name recognition. That’s going to disappear as others become better known. Paul is little better. Rubio and Cruz certainly deserve “second” tier status but that’s it.