The Presidential Pensieve for July 27, 2015

Splash water dropPolling and the crowds that have lined up both at his campaign event in Oskaloosa and with the Team Trump bus on RAGBRAI over the past week show Donald Trump took no damage from his comments about U.S. Sen. John McCain. And one straw poll result in northern Iowa indicates his support may be even stronger than we initially suspected.

Meanwhile, Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal continue to get high reviews from Iowans who heard them speak a little over a week ago at the Family Leadership Summit. Word-of-mouth works among grassroots caucus voters almost as effectively as earned media.

Marco Rubio, despite solid fundraising numbers, seems to be slipping more than we initially suspected, and the polls are starting to show that, as well. Scott Walker’s short Iowa tour has given him a little extra bump, but he needs to do more retail politicking in Iowa if he wants to hold onto the frontrunner status much longer.

The big mover this week is Carly Fiorina. She’s gotten off the Clinton-bashing and moved onto substantive issues where she can hammer all the Democrats, and has done so quite effectively. It’s earning her a second look from a lot of Iowa Republicans, many of whom are still very undecided at this point.

We’re now projecting 135,000 turnout again, if the Iowa Caucus were held tomorrow. This is based almost entirely on the strength of Trump’s campaign and its ability to attract “Silent Majority” independents to his cause.

•  •  •

13-tie. John Kasich (0 votes) — he’s ignored Iowa in the hopes of a top-four finish in New Hampshire, a strategy that worked for … um, no one.


13-tie. Chris Christie (0 votes) — he’s losing his temper, he’s unable to convince voters of where he really stands on issues, and there are new scandals popping up in the media. He just can’t seem to get any traction. Unless something major changes, he’s done.


13-tie. Lindsey Graham (0 votes) — while everyone else is talking about Planned Parenthood, he’s putting his cell phone in a blender. His tough talk on Iran echoes what many of the frontrunners are already saying, and falls on deaf ears. He’s hemorrhaging support and has almost no hope of getting into the Top 10 in time for the first debate.


12. Rick Perry (1,500 votes) — his all-out assault on Donald Trump is backfiring and he’s seemingly not smart enough — or his campaign is giving him bad advice — to figure it out. He’s not quite to cell phone in a blender, yet, but he’s getting there. A bad first debate performance will kill his campaign.


11. Rick Santorum (3,000 votes) — what voters like about him, they like about the other frontrunners. What they don’t like about him, well … they don’t like it. He’s headed in the wrong direction in a big hurry.


10. Carly Fiorina (4,500 votes) — as we mentioned above, she’s hitting Democrats on issues effectively and forcefully, and it’s earning her attention. She could squeak into the Top 10 and make the first debate, which would give her a big boost. She’s a very effective speaker and debater.


9. Ben Carson (5,000 votes) — he’s not losing support in droves like others, but he’s just not earning any media attention that gets his voice heard above the others in the race, which hurts him with independents.


8. Jeb Bush (6,000 votes) — the anti-dynastic bent of Iowans, who have also soundly rejected candidates named Bush repeatedly since 1988, continues. This number will go down, unless Bush completely remakes his image (lies) to be more conservative.


7. Bobby Jindal (7,500 votes) — his continued bump since the Family Leadership Summit reflects continued interest in his campaign, but usually only as an insurance option should Cruz, Huckabee, or Walker falter.


6. Marco Rubio (11,500 votes) — the Establishment fundraisers love this guy, the Establishment voters, not as much. He does stand to benefit substantially if Walker falters later on.


5. Rand Paul (12,000 votes) — last we heard, he’s still running the Tax Code through the wood chipper. It may take a while, so he sent a surrogate to Iowa (former U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts, who is very popular in Iowa) to do the speaking for him.


4. Mike Huckabee (18,000 votes) — grassroots support and a little bit of earned media on Planned Parenthood and the Iran deal have helped this week.


3. Ted Cruz (21,500 votes) — his blistering attack on Mitch McConnell on the floor of the Senate gave him a big boost via earned media.


2. Donald Trump (23,500 votes) — we’re just not quite ready to say Walker has lost the frontrunner status this week, but it’s getting closer. A couple of troubling comments of late, however, may chip away at some of his support.


1. Scott Walker (24,000 votes) — he could really help himself out by spending a little more time in Iowa right now.