Republican Field Down To Four Viable Candidates

November 4th, 2015 • iizthatiiz

With less than thirteen weeks remaining before the first votes are cast, the 2016 Republican presidential field has coalesced down to four viable candidates.

A new national survey of Republican primary voters from Quinnipiac University shows only four candidates in double digits, with the remaining eleven candidates far behind the leaders with four percent or less.

11-04-15 GOP Field - Quinnipiac graph

Only Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz have built a base of support strong enough to carry them into February with any realistic hope of a positive outcome.

11-04-15 Candidate Cash-On-HandEach of the four also also has more than enough cash-on-hand to carry them well into the upcoming primary season, Trump having virtually unlimited resources.  While Jeb Bush seemingly has a significant bankroll, he is also carrying the largest staff and maintaining the most campaign offices. Having spent far more than any other candidate in the 3rd quarter, a whopping $11.5 million or $1.5 million more than he raised, Jeb Bush is bleeding cash.

Bush has tapped out his big donor network with many having already contributed the allowable maximum, leaving him with no one to rely upon for 4th quarter fundraising. Jeb is forced to attract fresh new donors, unlikely in the face of his dismal prospects. These realities have forced a 40% pay cut on staffers and compelled him to impose harsh across-the-board spending cuts. Bush is hoping to financially survive the 4th quarter, but nosediving support is never indicative of a successful future fundraising effort.

With the possible exceptions of Bush and Fiorina, none of the other remaining bottom tier candidates has the financial resources necessary to bring a viable campaign into February’s primary season.

Trump • Carson • Rubio • Cruz • The Final Four?

Trump • Carson • Rubio • Cruz • The Final Four?

As the winter holidays rapidly approach, lesser candidates will find it very difficult to garner wide attention from voters who will be focused on their seasonal festivities. Mid November through the New Year holiday is typically a bad time for campaigning. It is likely that the current levels of support could remain relatively static for the next two months, although there are two more debates scheduled before years end.

The candidates will meet in Milwaukee on November 10th for a Fox Business / Wall Street Journal event that is still early enough in the season to attract significant viewership, but likely to be a number around the 14 million that tuned in for last weeks CNBC debate, significantly less than the initial Fox News and CNN debates.

Expect a bloody assault, as this is one of the last opportunities for the lesser candidates to try and wound the front runners. The top candidates will seek to fend off the attacks as being little more than desperate attempts from hopeless campaigns.

There is also a debate scheduled for December 15th in Las Vegas, that will find potential viewers more interested in shopping and planning for the holidays, rather than tune into politics. One can hope that CNN will cull the field, eliminating the lowest polling candidates from the years final event, forcing some to exit the race.

Many campaigns will also feel compelled to fold their tents, rather than carry expenses into another year. Most are already very short on cash, and the latest poll numbers do not bode well for successful fourth quarter fundraising.

By the new year, the top campaigns will exert enormous pressure on the RNC and the networks to limit the debate stage to candidates with the potential for electoral success. It will be in the best interest of the RNC to accede to these demands and end the dog and pony show aspect of the initial debates if they wish voters to evaluate their candidates on actual substance over the theatrics on display in prior events.

Of course there is always the potential for unexpected surprises. Events or disclosures can cause a campaign to implode, but rarely do unforeseen events boost a candidate into prominence. There is little to nothing that the bottom dwelling candidates can do that will give their candidacy any realistic hope of competing for the nomination.

Expect Trump, Carson, Rubio, and Cruz to be the last men standing.

 

The 2016 Early Voting States

FEBRUARY 1, 2016:
Iowa – Presidential Caucuses

FEBRUARY 9, 2016:
New Hampshire – Presidential Primary

FEBRUARY 20, 2016:
South Carolina – Presidential Primary

FEBRUARY 23, 2016:
Nevada – Democratic Presidential Caucuses

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