Saturday, March 07, 2015

Charlie Cook's odds on the GOP presidential nominee

Writing in the National Journal this week, Charlie Cook, one of the country's most respected political prognosticators, said this about the GOP presidential nomination race:
Acknowledging that much will inevitably change, at this point Bush and Walker each seem to have about a 1-in-3 chance of winning the nomination—call it 35 percent for each. There's maybe a 1-in-5, or 20 percent, chance that the nod will go to any tea-party candidate, so let's give Cruz and Paul each a 10 percent chance. The rest of the field gets the remaining 10 percent; right now, that's what I estimate is the likelihood that someone other than one of the aforementioned four will win the nomination.

I agree with Mr. Cook but would add that we know so little about how Scott Walker is likely to perform on the national stage that the odds should actually tilt towards Jeb. The big money, the donors with deep pockets, don't like to take chances, which is why they have big money in the first place. They will go with Bush. I don't see them getting behind Walker unless they see something in him, a lot in fact,  that gives them comfort. And money is always the thing that matters.

As well, Jeb is a proven performer. There is no doubt that navigating a nomination process will require placating some very radical right-wing elements in the GOP, which will be a challenge for the latest Bush, just as it was for Romney. So, look for Jeb to go up and down in the polls amongst the party faithful in the long nomination process, and look for others in the race to assume the lead however briefly just as happened in 2012. 

In the end, however, Jeb Bush will be too solid a performer, in a field of the untested, to fail. 

Having said that, I will also agree with Mr. Cook by offering the prognosticator's favourite hedge, acknowledging "that much will inevitably change."

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