by Dick Morris | March 25, 2015 12:07 am
While the GOP nominating process is just beginning, CNN/ORC International issued a poll this week that sheds light on how it is unfolding. The survey tested the GOP candidates in a head-to-head:
CNN/ORC Poll of all Republican Primary Voters
–Jeb Bush 16
–Scott Walker 13
–Rand Paul 12
–Mike Huckabee 10
–Ben Carson 9
–Chris Christie 7
–Marco Rubio 7
–Ted Cruz 4
–Rick Perry 4
–John Kasich 2
–Rick Santorum 1
–Bobby Jindal 1
With only 14 percent undecided, the survey shows the beginning of the makeup of the Republican field.
To understand what’s going on, put yourself in the place of the typical Republican primary voter.
The first thing you do is decide if you are for or against Bush. He’s been anointed by the media as the frontrunner, he is the best known and has the most money.
The most notable fact is that Bush is only at 16 percent of the vote. His name, resources, Florida base and broad appeal should put him much higher. Among GOP donors and elites, he likely runs much better. But 84 percent of the primary electorate isn’t buying him and want an alternative. While Bush has not declared, there is no doubt that he is running. And even though he has not projected his credentials and ideas nationally, his lack of appeal, despite full name recognition, should be troublesome for his backers.
Next, you look down the list of candidates and see if there is anyone else who you must vote for or, on the other hand, can’t support. Rand Paul stands out. You either support his novel brand of economic libertarianism, social liberalism, and neo-isolationism or you don’t. Since Paul isn’t likely to change his views or persuade national security or evangelical voters to change theirs’, he is not likely to move up.
Mike Huckabee faces a similar problem. He is trapped in an ecclesiastical ghetto. He beats the hell (or heck) out of Santorum, but to grow, he needs to wage a secular campaign on issues like income inequality, Wall Street deceit and other topics that grow out of his spirituality. He might just do that, but hasn’t done it yet.
Christie needs Bush to fall for him to gain. Not very likely.
So we have to view the candidacies of Walker, Rubio, Carson, Cruz as a unit, together getting 33 percent of the vote. Some may prefer one or the other, but their support is, at the moment, likely interchangeable. The winner of this four-way contest will emerge to challenge Bush — and the former Florida governor — is vulnerable.
Who that candidate will be requires a more subtle calculation.
Walker has a big lead in financial support, seeming to be the favorite of the Koch Brothers and their allies. But he has not yet shown the depth and grasp of issues necessary for the national stage.
Rubio has a positive image but has flip-flopped on immigration and hasn’t motivated anyone to storm the barricades … yet. His public appearances have been too milk toast and too biographic. He needs to use issues to win.
Cruz turned people off with his stridency on the Senate floor in October of 2013 but may be capable to motivating the greatest positive passion among the bunch. He’s probably the brightest and best informed. He knows how to use issues. And he currently is the darling of the tea party.
Carson is a first-time candidate in an era in which — after our experience with Obama — we distrust ingenues. He still has to prove himself.
But none of these defects are lethal and all can be overcome. Any of the four could do it. And don’t count Huckabee out. He’s the most likable and articulate of them all.
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