The Presidential Pensieve for September 28, 2015

Splash water dropWith Rick Perry and Scott Walker out of the picture, and following the second GOP presidential primary debate, there has been some movement in the field, and we once again have a little more clarity — both about the electorate and the media-driven polls that are being reported.

We are now revising our turnout projection to 135,000, if the Iowa Republican Caucus were held tomorrow, based on some volatility and uncertainty out there for former Perry and Walker supporters. Also, Rand Paul’s apparent support has dropped off below our threshold for continued reporting; if he appears to return back above the threshold, he will return. His support now appears as part of “The Rest of the Field.”

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The Rest of the Field (14,000 votes) — Their supporters are saying the polls are under-reporting them, and it’s somewhat true for both Bobby Jindal and Rick Santorum, but the under-reported support still wouldn’t be enough to break them out in this deep field. If they were to combine their efforts, it’s very likely the resulting candidate would break back out of the also-ran pack.


6-tie. Mike Huckabee (6,500 votes) — The new “tough guy” image is working with voters more, but does he have the stomach to really hit hard, which seems to be what voters are looking for this election cycle? It’s a question only he can answer, but his continued viability beyond October depends heavily on that answer.


6-tie. Jeb Bush (6,500 votes) — Each week, he seems to lose just a little more support to other candidates, like Rubio and Fiorina. He has the money to stay in as long as he wants, but he reeks of rejection right now.


5. Marco Rubio (8,500 votes) — He may soon force the GOP establishment to decide if its going to stick with the candidate with more money (Bush) or more voter appeal. He definitely has more appeal with voters than his fellow Floridian, but as an establishment guy, he faces a stiff uphill challenge in Iowa.


4. Carly Fiorina (10,500 votes) — She is a highly effective debater, and getting into the main debate on CNN certainly helped her get some attention. Knee-jerk “fact checking” by the mainstream media over her abortion comments has deflected some negative fact-checking on her actual record on a wide array of issues. She could be on her way up, or this could be a very temporary bump, depending on how well her apparent newfound supporters are paying attention.


3. Ted Cruz (20,000 votes) — The polls seem to be under-reporting him. It could be purposeful, although there are other natural phenomena that can explain it, as well. Regardless, based on what we see on the ground, he’s polling about half as well as he should be right now. As we approach February, he could be a potential wild card.


2. Ben Carson (25,500 votes) — The first chinks in the armor are starting to show up. While his polling numbers are going up nationally, in Iowa, they are flat or starting to fall a little. This probably has less to do with his comments about a Muslim president (in fact, that’s probably helping him right now), and more to do with other positions he has taken on abortion and gun control.


1. Donald Trump (43,500 votes) — Despite the GOP establishment and mainstream media’s best efforts, there has been very little tangible evidence on the ground in Iowa that his core support group is going anywhere. As has been reported previously by The Iowa Statesman, the more pushback he gets, the more steely his supporters’ resolve becomes.