Saturday, October 3, 2015

Death-Watch: 2016 Candidates

Pew Polling Visualized, Courtesy of The Conservative Treehouse!
A Pew Poll, recently released, finds that Jeb Bush has fallen to 4% in national polling. People are starting to come around to the conclusion that The Omnivore reached a while back: While Romney and McCain weren't leading at this point in their races, they weren't collapsing either. There has been some speculation on Twitter that Scott Walker leaving the race might act like the plug being pulled on a bathtub and could lead to a sudden draining of a bunch of candidates (Jindal). Thus far? Not yet.

Also, let's be fair: Jindal dropping out would be top of a morning news cycle--if nothing else big was happening. Let's look at who's interesting on the Death Watch.

This is our battle-space, a slice of candidates taken from the more-recent (this year) polling. On our list is a custom slice of Trump, Carson, Fiorina, Rubio, Bush, and Cruz.
This is a Custom Chart with "Moderate Smoothing."
Each candidate will get a Watch-Date and a "Death Condition" attached to it. If they reach that date with that condition? The Omnivore assesses 'they're in trouble!'

First up: Donald Trump!

Huh?? You say. What the fuck?? You say? Trump's leading--everywhere. Well, yes--yes he is--but he's in decline, you know. The scary-accurate Princeton Election Consortium (which nailed the 2012 and 2008 electoral vote counts) notes Trump Declines In Time for the Autumn Equinox. Dr. Sam Wang, in the linked article, takes a snap-shot of the Huffington Post poll-average seen above and turns down the smoothing to see a more granular picture of the polling trend. Indeed, it looks like Trump is . . . . 'crest-fallen.' Indeed, Trump's curve has bent downwards of late. So the question is "How low can he go?"
From PEC
On the other hand, our battle-space chart above turns down the smoothing and we get:
That isn't quite the same picture.

Watch Date: Oct 31st - To lose the lead
Analysis: Trump just expanded his staff in 3 states. That doesn't sound like someone who's faltering. He released a gun and tax-plan, that, whatever you may think of them, were judged reasonably solid by Republicans. In short, he is becoming more serious as time goes on.

Worse (for the RNC) his fall has come from Fiorina (a lot) and Rubio (a little). This isn't the right proportion for a serious candidate to take his place.

Next: Carson and Fiorina

The other two "outsiders" you've been hearing so much (?) about. Actually, you heard a lot about Carly Fiorina and not that much about Ben Carson. Both are sort of counter-points: Fiorina is almost a serious candidate and Carson is almost a complete joke (and a swindle for donors). Why the 'almosts'? Well, Fiorina's rise comes from some very real domination in her debates. Record-breaking audiences watched her handle Trump (something no one else has managed yet) and that has yet to bring seriously damaging scrutiny. People, besides Trump, are probably afraid to attack her because of sexism--but also: despite her polling spike, she's very likely not a serious threat. She has no natural constituency  and her debates make her, at this point, more flavor-of-the-month than real front runner.

On the other hand, Carson just raised 20-fucking-million dollars. This is no joke and if that's a total in "hard money" (which The Omnivore thinks it is--but isn't certain) then it means that he's got gas in the tank through . . . March 2016 (this, in fact, is what the linked article says he is planning air-time buys for). Even if his ceiling is 15%, that's enough to leave a serious dent in the race.

Watch Date Fiorina: Oct 14 - To fall to 5% or below

Analysis: Using our less-smooth picture above, Carly's rise took off on Sept 9. She peaked at 11% and is now down at 8% (less-smooth) today. If her curve is like a Herman Cain, The Omnivore gives her six weeks to return to equilibrium (which was around 5% on Sept 13 when she passed Marco Rubio's 5%).

Watch Date Carson: Oct 23 - To fall to 8% or below

Analysis: On our less-smooth graph, Ben's journey has had two peaks--the most recent on Sept 23. The Omnivore looks ahead about 4 weeks to see if anyone can catch him (or if he catches/passes Trump). Carson was pulling 8% on August 9th when he was effectively tied with Rubio and Cruz (and beaten by Jeb).

Ted Cruz

The Cruz Missile has been more or less flat since July 20th. He's on this list not because of any great change in his fortunes but because he is the "real alternative" to the three Outsiders (and he knows it--his strategy is to get their supporters when they fade). As such, he, less than anyone is in danger of a decline--he can truck along at 5 or 6% and be considered a contender.

Watch Date: Oct 31 - Polling at 6%

Analysis: If Cruz doesn't improve his numbers by the end of October that means one of two things: either the race stays where it is today (more or less) or Cruz isn't benefiting from the flux. In the latter case, that means he's failing. Of course he has good fund raising so he won't be out--but if four more months of churn, someone like Jindal (or Rand Paul) dropping, and Fiorina either establishing herself . . . or bowing out . . . doesn't move his needle, it's a bad sign.

Marco Rubio

Rubio is surging--and he's gonna fight with Jeb (kinda). This is good news for Marco since he's not weaker than the wet-paper-bag Jeb Bush can't fight his way out of. 

Watch Date: Oct 14 - Polling Below 8%

Analysis: Yes, he can win the battle with Jeb--probably easily. On the other hand, if you look closely at the graph (click here to see the current conditions snap-shot) Rubio is more tracking Jeb's numbers rather than cannibalizing them. Jeb drops, Rubio drops. Jeb rises, Rubio rises. This suggests that Rubio is drawing from a different pool than Bush--or, namely, that they're drawing from the same pool (Huckabee, Rand Paul, Kiasch voters?).

Rubio's rise began on Sept 7th at 4.5% and he's pulling--in the less-smooth graph--7.8% now. The Omnivore will give him 2 weeks to get his polling consistently above 8% meaning that he is within reach of double-digits. Otherwise, he's leveling out--which he can survive--but it isn't good.

Jeb Bush

We now get to Bush. Bush just cratered in the Pew Poll--which is a bad sign--but it's not in the above chart yet--and he's pulling a respectable 8.75% from the last four polls. It could be an outlier. Then again, things are not going in his direction. He just got clobbered for saying "Stuff happens" in 'response' to the Oregon shooting. This is  . . . problematic. He was speaking, in context, about bad things happening and people responding poorly in a crisis--not talking specifically or dismissively about the shooting.

Still, it must be recognized that Bush has a submarine's screen-door when it comes to foot-in-mouth accusations. He's very, very vulnerable to this sort of thing and that is his own fault.

Watch Date: Oct 21 - Below 6% (or below everyone else here)

Analysis: Even if you factor in Jeb's abysmal 4% with his other numbers he just basically loses a point in aggregate. The Omnivore will count it as a crash-and-burn if Jeb drops below our other contenders. That would mean that (a) the Pew Poll isn't an outlier and (b) Jeb's huge-money donors need to start asking for their money-back.


These Watch-Dates are fun for the horse-race element--but The Omnivore believes that they also reflect some very real realities of the current state of campaigning. So long as Carson, Trump, and Fiorina dominate the landscape, the "real candidates" have to fight over scraps (scraps of polling-average, money, and press-attention). This leads to more and more extreme behavior and impacts donors and the party leads (endorsements). So long as Rubio and Jeb are at each other's throats--and down in the polls, any "concentrated attempt" to take on Trump is doomed to fail--everyone--everyone other than Jeb--currently benefits from Trump-at-the-top.

So the cycle goes on.

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