With a flurry of campaign announcements, June closed out the second quarter of 2015. At this point, 20 candidates are running for two nominations, with Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich announcing his bid on July 21, former Virginia Republican Governor Jim Gilmore expected to announce his campaign in August and Democratic Vice-President Joe Biden still undecided about a bid. It possible another long shot candidate like former Maryland Republican Governor Bob Ehrlich enters, but starting in August, this column will shift to ranking each party’s field on their likelihood to win the nomination.
100%: Scott Walker (up from 90%), Bobby Jindal (up from 90%), Chris Christie (up from 60%), Donald Trump (up from 25%), George Pataki (up from 5%)
Scott Walker’s July 13th announcement ended an extended run up to his announcement. Walker took some heat over a European trade mission that doubled as a campaign tour, as well in his reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same sex marriage nationwide. Now that he is an official candidate, hopefully he can regain the footing that made him a top tier contender entering 2015.
Similarly, both Bobby Jindal and Chris Christie made their announcements at the end of June after enduring months of bad press. Christie faced criticism over the Fort Lee bridge investigation, even though the U.S. Attorney’s office announced in May it would not be pursuing charges. Jindal, meanwhile, was receiving heat as Louisiana’s budget issues worsened, with the deep cuts facing the state’s public universities and health system. Both candidates have to hope that dedicated focus on a presidential campaign can rehabilitate their images.
Donald Trump proved every prognosticator wrong, not only by actually announcing a presidential bid, but in following through in filing the official paperwork to run. Almost immediately Trump has drawn controversy over his comments about Mexican immigrants on the trail. More worrisome from a Republican standpoint, has been both Trump’s meteoric polling rise and his ability to dominate media coverage. While the polling rise has more to do with his high name recognition for a political candidate and can be expected to fall off as the primary develops, the media’s obsession with Trump could be harm other candidates and the party’s branding.
On the opposite side of that coin is George Pataki who announced his bid at the end of May to such little fanfare even this column missed it.
95%: Jim Gilmore (up from 5%)
Former Virginia Republican Governor Jim Gilmore has indicated he will announce his presidential bid at the beginning of August. While Gilmore has been a loyal party operative, it is hard to see who his constituency in this election will be and how he will differentiate himself in such a deep field.
100%: Jim Webb (up from 75%)
Former Virginia Senator Jim Webb announced his presidential campaign on July 2nd. Webb had recently courted some controversy with social media comments in the wake of the African-American church shooting in South Carolina that appeared to defend the Confederate flag. While Webb walked back those comments in a recent television appearance, Webb clearly is a poor fit for the current Democratic Party, with its focus on identity politics.