Presidential Bullets for America:
- I’ve awarded my grades, but we might have to wait a few days for post-debate polls.
- I expect Trump and Carson to lose momentum, with some of their support moving to Fiorina.
- Fiorina rises into the top three, Bush holds steady, Christie survives, and Rubio’s metrics boost his potential.
- Some candidates need to keep doing what they’re doing, while others need to reassess their strategy. Which ones are which? Read on…
After the first Republican debate, we had to wait four days for an Iowa poll and another two for a national one. Will the pollsters make us wait that long again? It’s certainly possible; if they don’t start the polling until after the debate, run the poll for a couple days, and then take a day to put it together, we could well have to wait until Sunday. Unscientific online polls abound, but anything that shows 60 percent of people thinking Donald Trump won cannot be trusted. Trolls will be trolls.
In the meantime, all we can do is makes guessed, so here are mine. It’s next to impossible to be right on everything. If I connect a few times, I’ll call it a success. (That’s what we in the business call “lowering expectations.”)
- We could well have the top three candidates in the race be non-politicians. With Fiorina’s excellent debate performance, she’ll surely pop. Meanwhile, even if Trump and Carson weren’t great on Wednesday, there is little chance they can collapse so much and in so little time that they are are supplanted by anyone else. I would not be surprised if they are the top three in some order in the next national poll. At the very least, they’ll all be top four with either Bush or Rubio.
- Bush will hold steady in the high single-digits, which probably slots him in fourth place, give or take a spot. His defense of his brother against Trump–which breathed life into the suddenly humanized younger brother–might get him a point or two.
- Rubio will climb into the top five, where he deserves to be. As important as poll rankings are the metrics buried deep within the poll. He will excel at “second choice,” “favorability,” and “How did the debate change your impression of the candidate?” When candidates inevitably start dropping out, Rubio will sponge up a lot of that support and be a top contender come February.
- So will Ted Cruz. His numbers will hold steady for now, but in the big picture, they’ve actually been on a slow, consistent climb. I expect that to continue. No debate bounce, but he’ll just have another tick up over the course of the coming weeks. He’s building a tremendous campaign, has a lot of money, and he will play very well in Iowa and South Carolina. He’ll only be top seven or so in the polls, but he’s a top four contender for the nomination.
- Chris Christie has averted disaster. Down to a two percent RCP average and again behind one of the debate’s marginal podium, he was most likely to follow Rick Perry out the door. After a fun and feisty performance last night, he’ll climb out of the main pack’s basement, a spot that will now be reserved for Rand Paul or John Kasich.
- Scott Walker, astonishingly, has become a total non-factor. Count me surprised–I once thought he was the second most likely Republican nominee. He’ll still be in the top seven but with just a handful of polling points.
- Donald Trump should drop a few points, but it’s impossible to know who still swoons for his confident bloviating.
Moving forward, depending on these polls, certain campaigns will keep beating the same drum, while others would be wise to make a tactical switch.
In that first group is Fiorina, Rubio, Cruz, and now Christie, whose debate performance and new campaign strategy to “make it about the voters” will help him make a run in New Hampshire. The praise I lavished on the other three is evident above, so need to change what they’re doing there. . . . I’m critical of Carson as a candidate, but I can’t argue with his campaign’s results. Not only is there the recent surge in the polls, but he has the best grassroots fundraising in the field. Plus, unlike Trump, he does his research, even if it takes him several hours to get to his point. . . . I’m also fine with John Kasich’s strategy to go all in on New Hampshire. It almost certainly won’t work, as we saw with Jon Huntsman four years ago, but it’s his only shot. His moderate campaign, when compared to the field, distinguishes itself for the Granite State voters. That being said, he will get no traction nationally.
As for those who need to tweak or overhaul their campaign. . . . Donald Trump needs to take a page out of Carly Fiorina’s playbook and, you know, study. If he can galvanize his peerless bravado and throngs of followers with some actual knowledge, he can reassert himself in this primary. . . . Dare I say that Jeb needs to stop worrying about the general election and start invoking his brother’s name more often? George W. Bush, especially as his presidency fades in the rearview mirror, is popular with conservative and Republicans. The crowd embraced the President’s defense of the American people. The younger brother might be wise to start embracing the elder to jump-start this stalled campaign. . . . Scott Walker needs to hire someone that can help him turn a record conservatives love into sound-bytes conservatives can get excited about. When he starts talking, most listeners check out. . . . Mike Huckabee needs to re-read the Constitution. . . . Rand Paul’s desperate strategy is to actually start saying what he believes. That hasn’t gone very well. Then again, going mainstream didn’t help either, so there’s probably no saving the Paul Campaign unless he can start changing a lot of minds.
Now let’s get some polls! See you then…