Kasich gets his, but Trump begins to pull away

Photo by Dave Davidson – Prezography.com

While the news media continues to report on how Republicans can’t stomach Donald Trump, the New York billionaire continues to rack up wins and accumulate delegates. Reaching the necessary 1,237 delegates to claim the nomination may be difficult for Trump, but he is the only candidate with a reasonable shot at winning the nomination outright.

Trump won contests in Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, and the Northern Mariana Islands on Tuesday.  The only blemish on the night was Ohio, where John Kasich, the current governor of the state, won with 47 percent of the vote and took home all 66 delegates. Even still, Trump was able to hold the home state governor under 50 percent and garnered 36 percent of the vote for himself.

Kasich, who finally won a state on Tuesday, has no possible route to accumulate the necessary delegates to win the nomination. Regardless, by preventing Trump from getting Ohio’s 66 delegates, Kasich makes it more difficult for Trump to get the delegates he needs. The problem for Kasich is that he probably can’t post a win anywhere else. On Tuesday night, he announced he was headed to neighboring Pennsylvania. While the move makes plenty of sense, a quick look at the Ohio results map shows that Trump won counties all along the eastern portion of Ohio that borders Pennsylvania.

If Trump was again the big winner, Florida Senator Marco Rubio was the big loser. Rubio was trounced in his home state, losing to Trump by 19 points. In fact, Rubio only carried Miami-Dade County. It was evident that Rubio wasn’t surging in his home state, but such a lop-sided loss has to sting. Rubio clearly saw the writing on the wall and announced he was suspending his campaign early in the night.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz repeatedly says that he is the only credible alternative to Donald Trump in the Republican presidential race. He also likes to say that he is the only candidate who has “repeatedly” beaten Trump. While both statements are factual, Cruz continues to fall behind Trump in the delegate count, and there doesn’t appear to be a roadmap that would actually allow him to edge out the New York billionaire for Republican nomination. Once again, Cruz was competitive with Trump in states like Illinois, Missouri, and North Carolina, but he failed to pull out an actual victory.

Despite not winning any state on Tuesday, Cruz will continue to accumulate delegates, but he needs to beat Trump in a primary contest if he ever hopes to derail Trump. The upcoming calendar also isn’t favorable to Cruz. His best chance to post a victory will be next Tuesday when Utah voters caucus, but Trump is expected to win Arizona. The month of April is comprised of only primaries and the friendliest turf for Cruz is Wisconsin.

Even though it currently appears possible to prevent Trump from getting the1237 delegates he needs, the pressure is still on Kasich and Cruz to find places to win. The month of April, in which New York, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin vote poses a difficult obstacle for the Cruz campaign to maneuver. With every win Trump gets, the more he is able to pull away from Cruz in the delegate count, and the more inevitable Trump becomes.

3/8/2016 Mid-Day Must Reads

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 12.35.34 PMWhy Ted Cruz might torpedo the strategy to stop Trump

The payoff for Cruz is clear. Rubio is struggling tremendously in the primary so far. Even if he wins Florida, it’s really hard to envision him getting to 1,237 delegates. If he doesn’t win Florida, it could be so embarrassing for him that he could drop out of the race.

The Republican establishment wants to stop Trump. Ted Cruz wants to beat Trump.

The problem is that if Rubio doesn’t win Florida’s 99 delegates, someone else will. And that someone is likely to be Donald Trump. Then, he’ll be on pace to win an outright majority of delegates by the end of the primary.

That’s the “stop Trump” crowd’s worst nightmare.

Donald Trump Would Be Easy To Stop Under Democratic Rules
By Nate Silver

Trump will have a chance to improve on his pace as the calendar turns toward states that have more aggressive delegate allocation methods — especially winner-take-all Florida and Ohio, which vote March 15. If Trump wins both states, he’ll have a good chance of eventually getting a delegate majority. If he loses both, we might be headed to a contested convention in Cleveland. And if Trump splits them — perhaps the most likely outcome based on where polls stand — we’ll continue to be on knife’s edge.

If the Republican nomination were contested under Democratic delegate rules instead, Trump would find it almost impossible to get a majority of delegates, and a floor fight in Cleveland would already be all but inevitable.

But switching to Democratic rules would make a big difference. Between the highly proportional allocation method and the large number of superdelegates, Trump would have received only 306 delegates so far, more than any other candidate but still just 34 percent of the total. It would be hard for Trump to ever get a majority under these circumstances; he’d have to get at least 72 percent of the elected delegates from the remaining states, or he’d need help from superdelegates who might not be willing to provide it to him.

Mike Huckabee wins Naples Derby

We have all watched the Presidential election this year and all know that candidate Mike Huckabee gave it all he had. He graciously bowed out in February. Although not in the Presidential campaign his four-legged namesake posted a winning campaign in the $50,000 Naples Fort Myers Derby series and finished on top on March 5th.  Brindle kennel’s Mike Huckabee a strapping 80-pounder and the bet favorite, thrilled both on and off-track fans that watched the handsome black son of Trent Lee and Twinkles come from behind and win in a powerful five-length victory over the 660-yard course.

Ted Cruz’s risky detour to crush Marco Rubio in Florida
By Margaret Carlson

It’s been a huge week in the presidential campaign. We’ve gone from Donald Trump having an unstoppable path to the Republican nomination to the possibility that he could be beaten.

That’s the good news for the majority of Americans who believe that an authoritarian, ill-informed, bellicose real estate mogul is unsuited to be president.

The bad news is that the vehicle of Trump’s defeat is turning out to be Sen. Ted Cruz.

With his faux-folksy recitations of Dr. Seuss and “The Princess Bride,” his singular insistence that Obamacare could be repealed, and non-stop obstruction fueled by his self-regard as the only principled man in Washington, he helped grind governing to a halt in recent years. One of the few points of bipartisan agreement on Capitol Hill is antipathy to Cruz. Vice President Joe Biden captured the feeling at the annual Gridiron Club dinner on March 5, joking that if President Barack Obama really wanted to put his mark on the Supreme Court, he should name Cruz to the open seat. “Before you know it, you’ll have eight vacancies.”

The emergence of Cruz as the savior of his party offers the painful choice between a fast death by gunfire (Trump romping to an unbeatable plurality of delegates within days) or a slow one by poison, as Cruz chips away at Trump’s lead with his latest wins in Kansas and Maine. But there’s no time to waste. The most super of Tuesdays is coming up on March 15 with the winner-take-all contests in Ohio and Florida. If Trump were to win both, the fat lady has sung.

Kasich’s survival strategy
By Kyle Cheney

Blanked in the first 20 Republican presidential nominating contests, the Ohio governor is desperate for a breakout performance Tuesday night in Michigan and a win next week in his home state. That’s because even if he pulls it off — no guarantee when polls show him down by double digits to Donald Trump in Michigan and statistically tied with the mogul at home — his advisers rarely mention what’s likely to come next: another six weeks of winless hell.

That’s because Kasich won’t have another chance at a marquee day until April 26, when five northeastern states — including Pennsylvania, where he grew up — hold Republican primaries.

New Hampshire Keeps with Tradition as Trump and Sanders Win Big

Photo by Dave Davidson – Prezography.com

Both second place finishers in last week’s Iowa caucuses won big in New Hampshire last night. Republican Donald Trump lapped the GOP field by garnering over 30 percent of the vote, while his nearest competitor, Ohio Governor John Kasich finished in second place with 16 percent of the vote.

Hillary Clinton barely beat out Bernie Sanders in Iowa, but Sanders humiliated Clinton in New Hampshire by beating the frontrunner for the Democrat nomination 59 percent to 39 percent.

The most interesting battle of the night was how the rest of the Republican field finished. With over 75 percent of the vote in, Ted Cruz was in third place at 12 percent, a few hundred votes ahead of Jeb Bush. Marco Rubio finished closely behind with 10 percent of the vote. It seems likely that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie may be the first candidate to drop out of the race following New Hampshire. He finished behind Rubio with a disappointing 7 percent of the vote.

As the GOP race moves on to South Carolina, Cruz and Trump are the best positioned, while Rubio may have to fend off both Kasich and Bush in order to make the race for the Republican nomination a three person race. Carly Fiorina finished in seventh place with just four percent of the vote, but did substantially better than Dr. Ben Carson, who garnered just two percent in New Hampshire. Carson’s poll numbers in South Carolina indicate he may be more of a factor there.

State of the Race: How I see things in Iowa with just over 100 days to go

IowaAs of today, there are just 106 days until we will know the winner (hopefully) of the Iowa Caucuses. As the trees change colors and the farmers bring in the harvest, the presidential race also enters its final season before Iowans caucus on February 1st. Multiple candidates are constantly in the state vying for support. And the voters themselves are feeling the need to figure out which candidate they want to caucus for next February.

Before we embark on the leg of the campaign leading up to the Iowa caucuses, now might be the best time to take a step back and analyze each candidate in regards to how they are positioned in Iowa. When assessing the field, I always break things down into subsets.

In this race, you have religious conservatives – Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, and Bobby Jindal. The establishment candidates are Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina, Chris Christie, John Kasich. The outsiders are Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson, and Rand Paul. Participation ribbons will be rewarded to Lindsey Graham and George Pataki.

Religious Conservatives

The Cruz campaign claims that they have the best ground game in the state. I’m not sure I believe it. Do they have passionate grassroots activists? Sure. But everyone does. The mistake that caucus campaigns can make is that they start believing their own hype. I’m far from writing off the Cruz campaign in Iowa, but I do think that they are living in somewhat of an echo chamber.

At the Cruz campaign office opening a few weeks back, Steve Deace made the argument that what makes the Cruz campaign different is that it’s made for the long haul because they have raised a lot of money. The belief is that Cruz is the most principled candidates in the race, and as other candidates drop out, their supporters will naturally end up with Cruz. Talk about wishful thinking.

Besides being wishful thinking, I don’t think it works like that. First, I think Huckabee, Santorum, and Jindal are all in through Iowa. Why would they get out now? Second, if you are a Cruz supporter, you are already with him, and if you are not, I don’t know if you automatically default to Cruz because your candidate either isn’t viable or does drop out.

I also think there are two types of religious conservative voters. The first types are your socially conservative political activists. This is Cruz’s bread and butter, but these voters also like Bobby Jindal, who’s been very aggressive in tone and campaign strategy in Iowa. The other type of religious conservative voter is your typical church-goer. These voters are not looking for someone to take a flame-thrower to Washington like Cruz and Jindal. They are looking for a more thoughtful socially conservative candidate who they could be proud to see in the White House. These voters are more likely to be older and make up the base of Huckabee and Santorum voters.

I fully understand why people believe Cruz is the frontrunner in this bracket, but I think this is a much closer contest than anyone else would believe. Santorum and Huckabee have been successful in Iowa in the past two caucuses for a number of reasons, but if they have one thing in common besides being the most viable social conservative in the race at the end, it’s that they were able to relate and connect to people in a very authentic way. Cruz struggles mightily with that.

I had long thought this was going to come down to a contest between Cruz and Huckabee, but I see all four of these candidates being in the race until people caucus in February. The question is, who will be standing after the caucuses? This is where identifying your supporters and turning them out matters. None of these campaigns look to be all that sophisticated today, but that could change.

Cruz has the potential.
Huckabee has the personal connections.
Santorum has a unique message and firm grasp on the issues.
Jindal is either a wild card or the spoiler.

The Republican Establishment

This bracket is a mess. The top candidates in this tier poll at seven, eight, or nine percent in Iowa. The lower tier comes in with maybe two or three percent. The main reason for the mess that is the establishment field in Iowa is a lack of early commitment and misreading what was going on in Iowa.

Everyone and their brother believed that Iowa was Scott Walker’s to lose. His sudden departure from the race created a gaping hole for an establishment candidate to now emerge. The mistake that people made was believing that Walker was competing for the conservative vote in Iowa or that he was some mythical creature that appealed to everyone. Low and behold, we found out that he was flat as a candidate and, in the end, didn’t appeal to anyone.

The candidate with the best campaign in this bracket is Jeb Bush. If the Bush campaign knows how to do anything, it’s block and tackle. The campaign is sound, but the candidate struggles. Marco Rubio is the exact opposite. The candidate is great, but the campaign leaves a lot to be desired. If I had to wager, I’d put my money on the person with the best campaign, and in this case, since Bush also has that famous last name and a well-financed Super PAC, it’s not an exciting wager, but it’s one that makes sense.

The wild card is Carly Fiorina. She’s got charisma like Rubio. She’s impressive on the stump, and people want her to do well. The problem is that she has no semblance of an actual campaign. Fiorina is completely dependent on exposure in the debates and her associated Super PAC in Iowa. It’s a real shame that she isn’t running a traditional campaign in Iowa because, if she was. I think she could finish first in this bracket, which would be huge for her.

Kasich and Christie might end up being factors in Iowa, but not in the traditional sense. Their fundraising figures and poll numbers both suggest that they would be wise to focus more on New Hampshire than Iowa. Still, both candidates have support in the state, and by not throwing in the towel in Iowa, any vote they can get in Iowa hurts Bush, Rubio, and Fiorina. And that, my friends, is why you have to campaign in Iowa, even if you don’t plan to make it your focus.

Bush has the best ground game in Iowa of this lot.
Rubio has tons of potential.
Fiorina is the wild card and likely spoiler.
Kasich and Christie just make it harder for any establishment candidate to actually win Iowa.

The Outsiders

Trump might have spent most of his campaign money on flying around in his 757 and on campaign swag, but it would be a mistake to overlook the fact that he has the largest campaign staff in Iowa, and they guy leading his effort here, Chuck Laudner, knows a thing or two about how to organize for a caucus.

It seems like every two weeks or so, the media starts beating their drums declaring that Trump isn’t serious and his exit from the race could come at any time. Really? Actions speak louder than words. He’s campaigning in Burlington this Wednesday, which is in a pretty sizable county, but it’s one that Bush, Rubio, Fiorina, Kasich, Christie, and Carson have yet to even visit. As we have seen, it’s a pretty big deal when Trump comes to town, and especially when he goes a little bit off the beaten path to a place like Burlington.

The Carson campaign is a difficult one to figure out. He spends as much time on official book tours, during which he doesn’t really campaign, as he does campaigning in early states. He has done well in Iowa, and he is a likable individual. But like Trump, he has to convince people that he’s presidential and serious about running for president.

The surprise isn’t how well Trump and Carson are polling, it’s how well they are doing with actual caucus goers. Both are attracting new people to the process, but when you look at the people who come to see them at campaign events, they are mostly full of typical caucus goers. The difference between the two campaigns is that I trust that the Trump campaign will do a better job of telling it’s supporters where and how to caucus.

Rand Paul insists that he’s committed to his presidential campaign, and I do think that he has a very unique and loyal base of support in the state. I also recognize that the Paul campaign knows exactly what they need to do to organize for a caucus. Where the doubt creeps in is the political reality that he is also up for re-election to the U.S. Senate in 2016.

If Republican candidate Matt Bevin loses his bid for governor of Kentucky on November 3rd, one can bet that Paul will be encouraged to end his presidential race and focus on his re-election. Thus, I’m still not convinced that Paul will be a candidate on caucus night.

Trump is unavoidable and better organized than you think.

Carson may have reached his ceiling. The social conservative candidates will have to peel off the religious conservatives who like him. There are plenty of ways to do it.

Paul is only interesting if he is a candidate on caucus day, which is hard for me to see.

Overall ranking as things stand today.

  1. Trump
  2. Carson
  3. Cruz
  4. Huckabee
  5. Bush
  6. Rubio
  7. Fiorina
  8. Santorum
  9.  Jindal
  10. Paul
  11. Christie
  12. Kasich

Bottom Line: I’m just not impressed with how the establishment candidates approached Iowa.

Christie Making A Play for Iowa?

ChristieIAJust how crazy is the 2016 presidential race? A four-term Republican governor with an impressive record of economic growth in one of the largest states in the country never found his footing and was quickly dispensed with. Another governor, who for months sat on the top of national and Iowa polls, was out before calendars turned to October.  Jeb Bush’s campaign was supposed to be a juggernaut, but besides its fundraising success, it’s been a boondoggle.

Now, some of the top financial backers of Iowa Governor Terry Branstad are throwing their support to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who is currently polling in 13th place in Iowa, 9th place in New Hampshire, and 8th place nationally.

If Vince Lombardi is looking down on the Republican race for president, he’s probably barking, “What the hell is going on out here?” That’s a question that many political observers have been asking for months now.

In any other presidential cycle, a candidate in Christie’s position may be left for dead, but in the odd and unpredictable 2016 Republican primary, Christie is getting a boost by rolling out the endorsement of a handful of Republicans businessmen, who four years ago attempted to recruit Christie to run for President against Mitt Romney in 2012. But these businessmen didn’t immediately jump on board Christie’s 2016 candidacy.

The high-profile endorsements come at a pivotal time for Christie. While his poll numbers continue to lag, they have improved since the primary debates began. And even though Christie is a long shot to win the caucuses, the endorsements of Bruce Rastetter, Gary Kirke, Denny Elwell, Mike Richards, and Jim Kersten are also notable for no other reason than because of who they are not backing – Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich.

Christie’s ability to land these endorsements is likely the result of the effort he’s made in Iowa for the past six years. These individuals didn’t jump on a plane back in 2011 to encourage Christie to run for president on a whim. Even back then, they had had ample exposure to the New Jersey Governor because of his willingness to assist in Branstad’s 2010 campaign for Governor. But while Christie has invested time and effort to foster meaningful relationships in Iowa, the same can’t be said of the other establishment candidates in the race.

What these endorsements ultimately mean for Christie remains to be seen. In the last Des Moines Register Iowa Poll in late August, Christie had a 59 percent unfavorability rating, meaning that even an impressive slew of endorsement may not be able to turn things around for him in Iowa. If Christie were running for governor in Iowa, these endorsements would be incredibly impactful, yet in a presidential campaign, it’s yet to be seen how influential they will be in getting people to turn out to support Christie at the caucuses in February.

List of endorsers: 

Bruce Rastetter: Central Iowa agri-businessman, President of the Iowa Board of Regents, influential political donor and bundler.

Denny Elwell: Central Iowa entrepreneur and real-estate developer. Has numerous high traffic properties in Ankeny, which often sport political signs of the candidates he supports.

Gary Kirke: Well-known Des Moines entrepreneur, insurance, real estate, and currently operates three Iowa casinos in Clinton, Emmetsburg, and Jefferson.

Michael Richards: serves as the Vice Chairman of Kirke’s casino operation as well as being the Vice Chairman of Quatro Composites, a carbon fiber composite company.

Jim Kersten: Vice President of External Relations and Government Affairs for Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, and former Iowa State Senator.

Mikel Derby: Legislative Liaison for the Iowa Department of Transportation, was Terry Branstad’s driver in his 2010 gubernatorial primary, became Branstad’s executive assistant during the general election.



Photo by Dave Davidson – Prezography.com

Donald Trump: You can’t stop him. You can only hope to contain him.

Photo by Dave Davidson – Prezography.com

Five Post Labor Day Thoughts

It’s been 168 days since Texas Senator Ted Cruz became the first Republican candidate to formally enter the race for president. There are only 147 days until Iowans head out to their caucus locations on February 1st. The following are a few post Labor Day thoughts on the Republican presidential race in Iowa.

Donald Trump: You can’t stop him. You can only hope to contain him.

I continue to think it’s foolish for Trump’s opponents to attack the GOP frontrunner. If Trump has proven anything during the span of his presidential campaign, it’s the ability to score points with voters through various confrontations. Whether it’s John McCain, Rick Perry, Lindsey Graham, Jeb Bush, or Megyn Kelley, Trump has come out on top.

Candidates are playing into Trump’s hands if they continue to have public spats with him because it’s easier for him to talk about another candidate than it is to advance policy.   At the end of the day, the media will continue to cover the horse race and spats with other candidates. It’s kind of like when the Republicans in Congress stopped threatening to shut down the government every three months, and suddenly the media had to cover the completely dysfunctional Obama Administration.

I think it’s likely that Trump will continue to dominate the news coverage of the race, and any thought of him self-destruction is merely wishful thinking by frustrated opponents. If you want to beat Trump, you need to contain his support to the people who are not typical caucus goers. We know that establishment voters will be unlikely to support the bombastic billionaire, but the same can’t be said about conservative voters who have grown more and more frustrated with establishment voters in Washington.

The way to contain Trump is to make sure that conservative voters understand that, while he would shake things up in Washington, he’s not going to champion their issues. As the caucus campaigns enter the final stage, it’s imperative for the rest of the field to make sure that Trump doesn’t win over voters that should be in their column. If Trump is contained to just the new people he is bringing into the process, he is less likely to win. If he is able to exploit a segment of the caucus electorate that regularly turns out, he’s going to be difficult to beat.

Trump’s opponents need to stop challenging him and instead work to contain him.

Sen. Ted Cruz: Needs to be more than a one hit wonder in order to win Iowa.

A candidate like Ted Cruz shouldn’t just be in the mix in a state like Iowa, he should be the favorite to win the First-in-the-Nation caucuses. On paper, Cruz is the perfect candidate for a caucus campaign. Not only is he a movement conservative and a top critic of everything in Washington, but he’s also a legitimate contender for the Republican nomination, and his campaign has the bank statements to back that up.

Yet, the Cruz campaign isn’t on cruise control in Iowa. His Iowa campaign team isn’t as robust as it should be, and quite frankly the inability to land some of the top conservative organizers in the state like Chuck Laudner and Sam Clovis early in the process is something that could haunt the Cruz campaign if they are unable to get an early victory in Iowa.

Another problem for Cruz in Iowa is that the sole focus of his campaign seems to be the religious liberty issue. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an incredibly important issue, but to be able to stitch together a winning coalition in Iowa, you can’t put all your eggs in one basket. As things stand today, I think Cruz has a line of socially conservative activists, but not necessarily the bulk of evangelical voters.

Cruz also has stiff competition for he type of voters he’s going after. Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, and Bobby Jindal are all going after the same exact voters. Huckabee successfully broadened his coalition in 2008 by being a strong advocate for the Fair Tax. In 2012, Rick Santorum emerged late, but in addition to being a strong advocate on social issues, he was also one of the stronger voices on foreign policy matters. If Cruz wants to win, he needs to build a broad coalition, but right now it looks pretty narrow.

I’m not about to write off Jeb Bush.

Jeb Bush has underwhelmed as a presidential candidate in Iowa as well as nationally, but I’m not about to write him off. It’s not because Bush has shown any recent signs of becoming a better candidate, but because in Iowa, his main competition is even less stellar. I’m looking at you Marco Rubio.

Even though Bush hasn’t been overly aggressive in Iowa, he does have an Iowa campaign in place that knows how to block and tackle. Until someone challenges Bush for the establishment vote in Iowa, I think Bush is looking at a top three finish in the state. If he gets that, he can suddenly secure his footing in the race with a win in New Hampshire.

Dr. Ben Carson, not Trump, is the wildcard.

I understand why people like Carson. His life story is inspiring. His plain-spokenness is refreshing, and it makes him an easy candidate to relate to. What gives me pause about his chances in Iowa is that non-traditional candidates like Carson have stumbled down the stretch before. And his history of saying things in interviews that get him crossways with voters only increases the chances that he will falter before caucus night.

However, with an electorate that seems to have had enough of classic politicians, caucus voters may be willing to overlook some of Carson’s flaws. Regardless, with most of the Republican field fixated on Trump, the longer they ignore someone like Carson, the stronger he ends up being.

My Iowa Dark Horse is John Kasich 

Here is a little predication for you. I don’t think much is going to change with Bush and Rubio in Iowa. I think they are both more concerned about playing the expectations game than committing to doing what it takes to do well here. That leaves the door open for someone like Kasich. Kasich has no business doing well in Iowa, but I just have that feeling that, come December, he’s going to be the candidate with a lot of interest as establishment Republicans begin to look for a more authentic and interesting option.

Chris Christie May Play A Larger Role In 2016 Race Than You Think


Despite New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s close relationship with Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and all the spadework he has done in Iowa since 2010, it appears that Iowa will not play a major role in his 2016 presidential campaign.

Christie not campaigning aggressively in Iowa makes plenty of sense. While his style of politics would play well in a caucus setting, recent polls have shown him to be unpopular in Iowa. A Des Moines Register’s Iowa poll that was released earlier this month found that only 28 percent of Republican caucus goers had a favorable opinion of the New Jersey Governor, while 58 percent held an unfavorable opinion of him. The same poll showed that 45 percent of Iowa caucus goers would never support his candidacy.

Christie isn’t alone in his decision to focus his time and energy in New Hampshire. Ohio Governor John Kasich, and former New York Governor George Pataki have also signaled that they too plan put more into a New Hampshire campaign than and Iowa effort. Like Christie, Kasich and Pataki are not necessarily ideal fits in Iowa where the caucus turnout will be substantially lower than an open primary.

In previous presidential contests, a high profile candidate like Christie announcing that they are essentially skipping Iowa would generate a number of negative news stories calling into question Iowa’s sway in the nominating process. That may have been true in other cycles, but in 2016 Christie’s focus on New Hampshire may actually help Iowa.

It’s not like Christie is currently setting the New Hampshire countryside on fire. He is currently polling in fifth place in the Real Clear Politics polling average at 5.6 percent in the state. Christie’s style and charisma seem like it would be a natural fit in New Hampshire. Regardless of where Christie currently stands in the polls, he is a superior retail politician. And his charisma and style may help him outshine Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, his chief rivals.

Nobody has spent more time campaigning in New Hampshire than Christie has either. And while Bush and Rubio will likely have more money than him, Christie can make up for that disadvantage by spending more time there than anybody else. It’s essentially the same strategy that John McCain used against George W. Bush in 2000 and the same strategy that won McCain the nomination in 2008. Even though Christie may now be considered a long shot, it would seem more likely that he will be able to standout in the upcoming debates more than candidates like Bush and Rubio.

With someone like Christie essentially camping out in New Hampshire it makes Iowa all the more important for candidates like Bush and Rubio who regardless of how their campaigns spin it, have to not only play in both Iowa and New Hampshire, but maintain nationwide fundraising push in order to meet their fundraising expectations at the same time. In the last three Republican nomination contests, there has been a clear New Hampshire frontrunner, that doesn’t seem to be the case in 2016.

There are a number of reasons why the 2016 Republican nomination contest is so fascinating, but the fact that someone like Chris Christie is considered a long-shot makes a national frontrunner banking on easy win New Hampshire a risky proposition. Another candidate complicating things for Bush and Rubio is Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Walker is currently setting the pace in Iowa and he is currently polling well in the granite state. Bush and Rubio also have to worry about Walker getting a bump in New Hampshire if he wins the Iowa caucuses.

Political pundits and observers are used to covering a presidential horse race that may have a field of eight candidates, but everyone and their brother knows the race is really between four candidates. That’s not going to be the case in 2016 because we may very well have a field of 16 candidates with eight of them being viable. Christie’s candidacy may not be what everyone envisioned when he broke on to the national stage a few years ago, but it is certainly still going to be interesting.

Time will tell if Christie is a spoiler, or if his New Hampshire strategy gives him a shot at the nomination.

Photo by Dave Davidson – Prezography.com

Kasich Makes His First Iowa Appearance


Rarely do I get nostalgic at a political event featuring a presidential hopeful in Iowa. I’ve been there and done that a thousand times. If anything, I try to remind myself to lighten up when covering a long shot or a candidate who’s making their first trip to Iowa. Yet, watching Ohio Governor John Kasich campaign in Iowa took me back to my senior year in college – the time I first knew I wanted to be involved in politics.

I love politics, and in college I loved political books. People often wonder how on earth someone like me was able to get a woman like my wife to marry me. The short answer is a book trick. At the time, the book Primary Colors was extremely popular. I bought it, and when the woman who is now my wife showed interest in reading the book, I insisted that she borrow it. I could have cared less if she actually read it, but it gave me an excuse to call her later and meet her to get the book back.

Vertically and horizontally challenged people need to think out of the box. It worked. And oh yeah, thanks, Bill Clinton!

How does this involve John Kasich? I was an early fan. I bought and read his book, Courage is Contagious and liked everything I read. Had I known how to contact Kasich’s campaign in 1999 or had I been offered a job, I would have jumped at the opportunity. I didn’t have much of a rolodex back then, and the only campaigns that I had any contact with were Steve Forbes and Elizabeth Dole. I went to work for Forbes, and the rest is history.

Despite my choice to go to work for Forbes, I did attend a campaign event for Kasich in Davenport at the home of Doc Sunderbruch (with my future wife). It was a small event held in a tent in a huge backyard in the middle of Davenport. At the time, I had grandiose images in my head about what campaigning for president would look like. I would soon learn it wasn’t as glamorous as the movies made it seem. I can’t recall what Kasich said those many years ago, but he was young and full of ideas.

Kasich told the media before his noontime speech at the 2016 Iowa Caucus Consortium at the State Historical Building in Des Moines that the message he got from Iowans when he briefly ran for president in 1999 was to come back when he was a little more experienced. It’s been 16 years, and instead of being a fresh-faced 47 year-old congressman, Kasich is the 63 year-old governor of one of the most electorally significant swing-states in the country.

Kasich is not only more experienced, but he also has a long list of accomplishment to tout. Under Kasich’s watch, Ohio has eliminated the death tax, reduced personal income taxes by 10 percent, and cut business taxes in half. Kasich has accomplished all of that while transforming an $8 billion deficit into a $2 billion surplus. The Ohio economy, which lost over 350,000 jobs under the previous administration of Ted Strickland, has bounced back under Kasich.

Kasich won re-election in 2014 by a landslide, carrying 86 of 88 counties in the state. Kasich defeated his Democrat opponent by over 936,000 votes. Impressive stuff. Even though Kasich sailed to victory in 2014, he wasn’t always so popular. In his speech in Des Moines, he noted that at one point in his first term, his approval rating stood at just 28 percent.

Kasich joked, “You have to work hard to be that unpopular.” He explained that his early approval numbers are the result of him being a change agent. Whether it was as a young Ohio State Senator, a member of Congress, or Governor, Kasich said, “When you see a problem, go and fix it.”

Kasich told his Iowa audience of about 200 that he approaches government and life with a five-pronged philosophy of personal responsibility, resilience, teamwork, faith, and family. In addition to sharing his political background, beginning with meeting the President of Ohio State University, which ended up getting him a personal meeting with President Richard Nixon in the Oval office, Kasich touted his accomplishments in balancing the federal budget and his accomplishments as governor.

Kasich was peppered with questions from the media before making his remarks, and then he took a handful of questions from the event sponsors and members of the audience. Regardless of the question, Kasich seemed eager to answer, typically by explaining how he handled similar issues in Ohio.

Should Kasich decide to run, competing for space in a 16-person field will be difficult. Complicating matters is the fact that Kasich would be competing for a share of the caucus electorate against mainstream Republican candidates like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, and Scott Walker. Kasich might not be as well-known or as popular as some of his direct competition, but his fix-it mentality and his accomplishments as governor give him a good foundation on which to build a presidential campaign.

Kasich also has his critics. As governor, he implemented Obamacare in his state, and he is a vocal supporter of Common Core state education standards. While those issues are incredibly unpopular with the grassroots conservatives who will make up the base of the caucus electorate, he’s not the only candidate with that baggage. Those wanting an ideologically pure candidate are not going to find it in Kasich, but for those wanting a candidate who is willing to tackle the bloated budget, reduce the deficit, and cut entitlement spending, may find it difficult to find a candidate with a better track record than him.

Time will tell if Kasich actually runs for president, and if he does, how aggressively he will campaign in Iowa. Kasich seemed surprised at the positive reception he received in Iowa on Wednesday. Much has changed since he last ran for president, but one thing about Iowa remains constant – if you want Iowans to take you seriously, you need to take the caucuses seriously. The ball is in his court.


Photo by Dave Davidson – Prezography.com

Walker Maintains Lead in Latest Iowa Caucus Poll – Rand Paul and Rick Perry big movers.


A new poll of likely Republican caucus goers again shows Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker leading the 16-member field of Republican candidates by six points. The poll was released on Thursday afternoon in Washington D.C. at a legislative staff briefing that included Senators Ernst and Grassley.

The IVR poll, produced similar results to the latest Iowa Poll conducted by the Des Moines Register, but it does show some movement in the middle of the pack. The biggest mover was Kentucky Senator Rand Paul who dropped five-points since the Register’s poll at the end of May. Paul’s drop may be a result of comments he made about Republicans being responsible for the creation of ISIS at the same time the poll was in the field.

Moving in the other direction in former Texas Governor Rick Perry. Perry polled at three percent in the Register’s poll, but in the Advantage Poll that was commissioned by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association he polled at 7 percent, which was good enough for sixth place in the poll. Perry also may have benefited for the fact that his campaign launched shortly before the poll was in the field.

Below is the polling memo and the full results of the poll.

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) recently commissioned Advantage, Inc. of Alexandria, Virginia to conduct an automated telephone survey of likely Republican caucus attendees. A sample of confirmed GOP voters was screened for likely participation in the upcoming Republican presidential caucus. N=1,235 interviews were successfully completed in Iowa. The margin of error for a random sample of this size is plus/minus 2.8% at a 95% confidence level. This information was gathered as interviewees responded via a telephone dial pad. Interviews were conducted June 8-10 throughout Iowa, the week after Senator Joni Ernst widely covered “Roast and Ride” event featuring many of the potential candidates.

It is also important to note that to the best of our knowledge, this is by far the largest sample of likely Republican caucus-goers in a public poll this year. The poll also allowed the voters to choose from all 16 commonly mentioned candidates and potential candidates vying for the presidential nomination of the Republican Party. Of other public polls, only the recent Des Moines Register “Iowa Poll” also included all 16 potential candidates.

While not all these candidates have announced their intention of seeking the office, all names were treated equally. After screening for likely caucus participation, interviewees were asked:

“Still thinking about the Republican caucuses — If the Republican Presidential caucuses were held today, and you had to make a choice, for which of the following candidates would you probably vote?” — (NAMES READ & RANDOMIZED)

Scott Walker                         19%
Ben Carson                            13%
Jeb Bush                                11%
Marco Rubio                         9%
Mike Huckabee                    8%
Rick Perry                               7%
Ted Cruz                                 6%
Rand Paul                              5%
Chris Christie                        3%
Carly Fiorina                         3%
Rick Santorum                      2%
Donald Trump                      2%
Lindsay Graham                   2%
Bobby Jindal                         2%
John Kasich                           2%
George Pataki                       1%





Photo by Dave Davidson – Prezography.com