Forget for a moment what the freshman
It's flatly foolish to try to divine the future on the political grains of sand now before us. But it is possible to group the Republican candidates — declared or otherwise — into some general categories that suggest their odds of winning the nomination.
Caveat: As every campaign apparatchik will gladly remind, it is possible for a candidate yet unknown or underappreciated to surge in the fields of Iowa or the snows of New Hampshire. During the 2012 campaign, Republicans surfaced a candidate of the month, one after another, as they sought an alternative to establishment front-runner
We look here at those who appear to be running more or less seriously. Sorry,
And we've discounted another flirtation, that of South Carolina Sen.
Here are the categories:
Best odds: Winning the nomination takes an amalgam of money, message, timing and support. Lapping the field in money at this point is former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the son and brother of past presidents, who has worked hard to raise millions from family and party establishment networks. The depth of his rank-and-file support is harder to measure: He has squared off on immigration and education policy against some conservative party elements, making him reliant on more mainstream but less passionate supporters who tend to be outvoted in the early contests but grow in dominance as the campaign year wears on. And he will have to fight a disquieted opposition to legacy politicians.
An early challenge to his primacy has come from Wisconsin Gov.
A third candidate winning early praise is Sen.
Hoping for lightning to strike: Each of the candidates in this category brings some strengths but larger liabilities, and seems more likely to make a mark as an antagonist rather than as a nominee.
Cruz, Monday's entrant, is best known for unyielding rhetoric and pushing a
Needing more than lightning: These candidates require outside intervention — such as several of the top-tier candidates imploding — so perhaps it's just as well that many are competing for the evangelical mantle. Former Arkansas Gov.
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson has some
With more than 300 days to go before the first scheduled balloting, in Iowa's caucuses, polls are meaningless. But they are also telling of where the race is at this early stage. A CNN/ORC poll this month found Bush leading the field with a meager 16% support. But the real news? A dozen candidates were arrayed between zero and 16%, a plethora of options yet unexplored.