The last time we saw Cleveland’s Quicken Loans arena, LeBron James put on a memorable, spell-binding performance in Game 5 of the NBA finals in a futile, losing cause. Tomorrow night in that venue, look for Donald Trump to do pretty much the same thing.
On the eve of the first presidential primary debate, we release the third edition of our “Hackenflack Line,” rating the chances of GOP wannabes to capture their party’s nomination, as Trump is ensconced in the top slot in every major national poll, and widely expected to deliver an exciting, if weird, showing at the Republican Quake on the Lake.
However, The Donald checks in only at #5 in the Calbuzz rankings, the only betting line that matters, while Ohio Governor John Kasich has surged into third place, adjudged by us the top moderate-conservative alternative to ongoing leader Jeb Bush.
“Far out,” said survey director and Calbuzz Staff Psychiatrist P.J. Hackenflack. “Kasich is the hottest thing coming out of Ohio since the Buckeyes opened a can of wuppass on Oregon.”
While Kasich barely qualified to make the big stage at the debate, his potential upside is substantial: the popular chief executive of a crucial swing state, he has broad experience in crafting and implementing conservative policies, at the same time he remains the only Republican who – astonishing! – talks about helping the poor. By all accounts, he often acts like a jerk, but with Trump in the race, who’s gonna notice that?
From first to worst, here is the Hackenflack line, with a note on where the combatants rank compared to our last ratings.
1-Jeb Bush (+1) The Bushman dominates in money and organization, and the splintering of the wing nut vote in the big field may allow him to cop the nomination despite his support of Common Core and path-to-citizenship immigration reform.
2-Scott Walker (-1) The Koch-sniffing, union-busting demagogue still leads in Iowa and is Jeb’s chief right-wing foil, but we bet New Hampshire voters expose him as Eddie Haskell in a cheap suit.
3-John Kasich (+2) The rooting favorite of our founders, who hail from Cincinnati and Cleveland respectively, is at risk from the Tea Party because of his disgraceful act of accepting Obama’s money to provide health care for poor people, but if Bush falters, he’s the only other grown-up in the room.
4-Marco Rubio (no change) Born to be vice-president, the Senator (R-Croak Castro) remains a trendy pick among the Beltway geniuses, but where is he going to win – Iowa (no), N.H. (uh, uh), Florida (um…)?
5-Donald Trump (+9) We wouldn’t put it past deranged GOP primary voters actually to cast ballots for the guy (and remember, we warned you not to write him off) but look for him to set his two pounds of hair on fire by Halloween.
7-Mike Huckabee (-1) His crude claim that Obama’s Iran deal would march the Jews “to the oven” got rightfully panned in the mainstream, but the big problem is that his key white supremacist backers now wonder why he’s so soft on
9- Chris Christie (no change) All you need to know about Mr. Beef: 30 percent approval rating at home and eMeg is for him.
10-Lindsey Graham (+1) Sure he’s a warmonger and a cheap shot artist but he’s still a more serious person than most of these clowns.
16-Jim Gilmore (N/A) Never heard of him? Act quick, he’ll be gone soon.
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