Is the Republican Presidential Primary Wide Open?

The short answer is….NO.

While there may wind up being around two baseball teams worth of GOP presidential candidates, only three of them have much of a likelihood of facing Hillary:   Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker, with John Kasich an additional upset possibility.   That is not just my opinion but also that of Larry Sabato, a moderate professor of politics at the University of Virginia, and Charles Krauthammer, the more well known conservative columnist.

In a piece in Politico, Sabato call’s it a “myth that the giant Republican field is unpredictable.” And then goes on to explain why.   In the Washington Post Krauthammer “handicaps” the field giving major candidates a percentage chance of winning, with the top three candidates mentioned above having a much greater chance than the others.  (Note the links above in case you want to read more).

Krauthammer gives Kasich only a 3% chance, but calls him his “personal long shot wild card”. Sabato calls Kasich “a dark horse element” and regular readers of this blog might recall that I picked Governor Kasich as my long shot possibility in some previous post.  Right now he might not even make it into the Republican top ten candidate debate slated for August 6, so no need to think about him much yet, though you might be interested in why Sabato and Krauthammer give him an outside shot.

While agreeing with the general run down given in both articles, I would say that I believe JEB is a more likely primary winner than either writer seems to think (Note: Jeb is marketing himself as just JEB these days, so as to downplay the Bush part, as if he were an orphan).   Krauthammer gives JEB a 25% chance while giving Rubio a 35% chance.   I’d say it’s the reverse, more like 40% in JEB’s favor and 20% Rubio and Walker somewhat less.

I think Krauthammer leans more towards Rubio primarily because he’s much younger and gives off more energy, a fresh face to juxtapose with that of the same old Hillary.  Krauthammer does point out that JEB ‘s “ bulging war chest, a fine gubernatorial record and a wide knowledge of domestic issues guarantee top-tier staying power.” But I think a better case can be made.

I would add: The “bulging war chest” has been estimated at three times more than any other Republican candidate, and also as more than the rest put together.  To use the old adage, this is a marathon not a sprint and JEB’s campaign is built for the long haul.   He might not win any one of the first three primaries and still be the favorite if he remains close in the second two.

Also, Krauthammer makes too much of Rubio winning a “general acceptability” poll of Republicans.   He doesn’t mention JEB was a very close second and I noticed this morning, now he narrowly leads in that poll.

Finally, two things that are often mentioned as JEB’s primary race weaknesses – a stand on developing a new immigration policy as well as support for a national common curriculum – are both questionable as such. Even a majority of Republicans want to see a new immigration policy enacted and many of them realize the hard truth that without attracting more Hispanic votes, the Republicans can’t win.

Despite Marco being Cuban, I think JEB can attract more new Latino votes because of his stronger stance on a change in immigration policy, his Mexican wife and his embrace of Latino culture as indicated by his fluency in Spanish. Something I never see mentioned is there are millions of voters of Mexican heritage while less than a million of Cuban heritage, and many of them are Republican already.   I think JEB has a better shot at broadening the Hispanic base.

As for an educational common core? In comparison to the bigger issues, who cares?   I’m sure some do, but when it all comes down to picking a candidate for president in a tumultuous world and an economy that promotes wage stagnation, care about “common core” amounts to a hill of beans.

I believe after months of battling it out in the primaries, JEB will be the king of the Republican hill and the one to take on HILLARY.

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