30 days to go!

30 days before Iowa’s caucuses on Feb. 1st, 2016! Iowa is the first state in the primaries calendar.

This means that each day is 3.3% of the remaining time before the first caucuses.

New Hampshire’s primary is Feb. 9th.

What are the big stories of the last 30 days? Here are three.

First, evangelical conservative support has coalesced around Ted Cruz, and he has replaced Ben Carson as the second-place candidate in national Republican polls and moved into first in Iowa. He has been helped by what seems a non-aggression pact between him and Trump – I would be interested to know exactly what is going on in this case, as it is crucial.

Second, Trump has continued to lead the Republican national polls, with his RCP average at 35% as of Jan. 1st (Cruz is at 19.5%). That’s 5 1/2 months in first place in the Republican primaries, defying almost all political pundits’ predictions on this matter. (The only relatively high-profile commentator I’m aware of who predicted this early on was Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert. This is a case where an outsider seems to have expertise which ‘insiders’ (conventional political experts) don’t have. If you’re interested, Adams recently also predicted Trump would win the general election in a landslide.)

Third, on the Democratic side, the biggest story is probably that Sanders almost surpassed Clinton in non-Super-PAC fundraising in Q4 ($33.2M to $37M), and that he has retaken the lead in NH. It remains to be seen whether Trump will continue to target Clinton, and if so, whether that will help Sanders.

6 thoughts on “30 days to go!”

  1. I think the following candidates drop out before Iowa: Carly Fiorina, Rand Paul, Rick Santorum.

    I think the following candidates drop out after New Hampshire: Martin O’Malley, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson.

    I think the following candidates drop out after the next few primaries: John Kasich, and (surprise!) Marco Rubio.

    I think there is ultimately a fight between Chris Christie and Jeb Bush, and between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. I think Cruz takes Trump down with him, and never withdraws until the convention in exchange for concessions from Christie or Bush. Cruz may go down, because Trump endorses Christie or Bush rather than Cruz, despite Trump campaigning for Cruz votes. Bush wins the Republican nomination purely through financial backing and the fact that he was the moderate that lasted the longest. Republicans reluctantly support his candidacy.

    For Democrats: Bernie Sanders withdraws and immediately endorses Clinton for president, and campaigns for her throughout the general election to prevent his supporters from refusing to endorse Clinton.

  2. Other major news stories I believe are:
    Cruz surpasses Trump to take the lead in Iowa.
    Cruz has the backing of many influential social conservative activists.
    Carson hauls in 23 million in 4th quarter fundraising.
    Cruz rakes in 20 million in 4th quarter fundraising.
    Christie becomes relevant again thanks to the latest debate.
    Huckabee claims he will drop out if he doesn’t finish in the top three in Iowa.
    Trey Gowdy endorses Marco Rubio for president.
    Carson top aides quit the campaign.
    Bush cancels ads in Iowa and South Carolina, and seems to be making his stand in New Hampshire (Mayor Guliani strategy).

  3. @Jonathan

    Curious to know why you see Mike Huckabee and/or Ben Carson dropping out after New Hampshire. Huckabee has made Iowa his litmus test (says he’ll drop out if he doesn’t place in the top 3) and Carson has also been strongest there. Expectations for both are low in New Hampshire, because they don’t look like traditional NH candidates (moderate, establishment, not too well suited to Iowa), and that’s a large part of the reason they haven’t campaigned much there (same is true of Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum).

    I’d say these candidates will either fare poorly enough in Iowa that they drop out then and there, or they’ll carry through at least until South Carolina (southern state with a lot of religious voters). Remember, in 2008 60% of SC GOP primarygoers identified as evangelicals. So there’s little reason for them to drop out before SC votes if they feel confident enough to stay in after Iowa.


    If those candidates drop out, I think it’ll probably be after Iowa (Huckabee would need at least a 10% rise in the polls to make the top 3) or after South Carolina (assuming they don’t fare well, as Ted Cruz and possibly Rick Santorum will split the evangelical vote three/four ways).

    It’s possible a couple of the religious candidates will stay in to the bitter end. Cruz and Huckabee know better than to soldier on when all is lost* – Cruz may have his eyes set on 2020/2024 – but Santorum waged a crusade against Romney in 2012, and Carson might stay in just to keep selling books at his rallies.

    *Agree that if Cruz has enough delegates, he might choose to stay in and be a kingmaker at the convention.

    I think Kasich probably drops out after NH – unless he rises 5% or 10% in the polls, he’s cooked, and he’s already chosen NH as his last stand. Rubio, on the other hand, will stay in until the winner-take-all primaries in March (Illinois and especially his home state, Florida) unless another candidate scores a Super Tuesday knockout.

    Don’t know how likely a Cruz/Trump skirmish is; the two have been very careful to handle each other with kid gloves thus far. Even when a recording was released of Cruz criticizing Trump privately, the resulting kerfuffle was over in a day or two – Trump hasn’t latched onto Cruz in the way he’s gone after Bush/Rubio/Christie. Cruz is hoping to inherit a lot of Trump’s supporters if he drops out, and doesn’t want to go after Trump.

    Christie and Bush as the establishment contenders after NH seems like a reasonable bet (though I think Rubio has as good a chance as either of them).

  4. @Kevin

    I think the Gowdy endorsement is being made out to be much more than most Republicans consider it – a view echoed by a lot of Republican operatives in the news. I’m sure it helps Rubio in South Carolina, but the consensus was that its effect nationally/in early states is very limited. Little more than a blip in the battle for the news cycle (In game terms, if Anthony added Gowdy as an endorser, I’d favor assigning him a momentum boost and barnstorming bonus for SC but not making him a national endorser.*

    *Of course, Al Gore shouldn’t be an endorser of national prominence either, and I doubt John Kerry would really have the impact he does in-game. IRL, I’d rather have an endorsement from Elizabeth Warren or Cecile Richards than John Kerry.

    Also, minor quibble, focusing on NH isn’t really the Rudy Giuliani strategy. Giuliani’s plan was to win the “national” primary, with Florida the only early state he hoped to capture. We all saw how that worked out.

    Not the best sign for Rubio, who doesn’t have a clear path to victory in NH/NV/SC and would need a minor miracle to win Iowa. He’s hoping to do well in the winner-take-all states that vote on March 15, but can he survive 1.5 months after the Iowa caucuses?

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