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The Presidential Pensieve for August 10, 2015

Splash water dropTwo debates and a candidates forum did little to change the landscape of the race, other than to reinforce trends we were already seeing on the ground. But, a couple of tweets from Donald Trump may unravel the whole thing. It’s too early to tell if Trump vs. Megyn Kelly will finally be the tussle that knocks him out of the front position, but we should know soon.

Carly Fiorina really helped herself in the debate, but then her past statements for left-of-center ideals immediately surfaced. The RedState Gathering certainly provided a boost to the candidates FOX News tried to shove into the shadows, and we think Iowa Republican Caucus voters noticed.

We’re still projecting 135,000 turnout, if the Caucus were held tomorrow. The “Silent Majority” is now firmly invested in the process, and it’s doubtful they’re going to disengage anytime soon.

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14-tie. Lindsey Graham (0 votes) — even the national polls don’t like him. Unless something substantial changes, this is the last we will talk about him.

 

14-tie. John Kasich (0 votes) — contrary to national polling, there’s no enthusiasm for his candidacy in Iowa. Unless he makes a substantial strategy change that includes Iowa, we will not be talking about him anymore.

 

13. Rick Santorum (1,000 votes) — his performance in the Happy Hour Debate reinforced that he’s got nothing new to add to the campaign. It’s not 2012 anymore.

 

11-tie. Rick Perry (2,500 votes) — he may not be completely dead to Iowans, but a dull Happy Hour Debate performance didn’t help reignite the passion that seemed to be there just a few months ago.

 

11-tie. Chris Christie (2,500 votes) — he seemed to regain some mojo during the FOX News debate, but will it last? It’s unlikely he’s going to overcome Bush, much less Walker or Rubio, to become the Establishment guy.

 

10. Rand Paul (3,000 votes) — there’s a core group of people who will go down with his ship, no matter what. The rest have already jumped ship.

 

9. Bobby Jindal (3,500 votes) — his bump is gone, but there is a small faction of Christians who really like what they see in him; he benefits from any hit that Huckabee, Cruz, or Walker may take.

 

8. Carly Fiorina (4,500 votes) — her excellent debate skills clearly shined in the Happy Hour Debate, but what she says isn’t going to engender a whole lot of enthusiasm with grassroots conservatives in Iowa. She could be an effective VP choice for a middle-of-the-road campaign.

 

7. Jeb Bush (5,500 votes) — he stumbled, fumbled, and mumbled his way through a very telling FOX News debate. He has a whole lot of money he can throw behind the Establishment guy (likely Scott Walker) very soon.

 

6. Ben Carson (6,000 votes) — he finally got heard — a little bit — at the FOX News debate, and it reminded some people why they initially liked him. If he hopes to gain from this situation, he must remain consistently conservative.

 

4-tie. Mike Huckabee (13,000 votes) — a fiery defense of Christian conservative ideals really helped him during the FOX News debate, but the lack of air time didn’t. He would be doing much better if he could shake the “progressive” label.

 

4-tie. Marco Rubio (13,000 votes) — he’s likely the Establishment’s No. 2 guy. He likely now regrets aligning himself with McCain and Graham so early in his national political career. It’s a stain that isn’t going to rub off easily, or anytime soon.

 

3. Ted Cruz (22,000 votes) — he won’t back down, but he won’t attack the frontrunner, either. He’s gaining support and respect from all the right people. He benefits most from a Trump slump, not Carson or Fiorina.

 

2. Scott Walker (24,000 votes) — he really didn’t hurt or help himself. He’s one big Establishment endorsement away from being their guy.

 

1. Donald Trump (34,500 votes) — it doesn’t look like he’s suffered much from the FOX News debate hit-job, but we need to see more reaction on the ground to know better. His tweet storm over Megyn Kelly may have damaged him more, though. Until we see a significant change, though, we’re going to hold to our current assessment.