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Bracketology: New GOP Presidential Rankings

Monday, March 30th, 2015

Wisconsin Budget“Paddy Power,” Ireland’s largest bookmaker, still has Jeb Bush as the odds-on favorite to capture the Republican presidential nomination, but the far more influential “Hackenflack Line” has dropped the Bushman into second place.

Since the last Calbuzz pecking order prospectus of GOP wannabes, the former front-runner has assiduously vacuumed up mass quantities of Establishment money, hoping to drive or scare everyone else out of the race. Only problem: he’s already bumped his head on the hard reality of the reactionary belief systems held by the right-wingers who actually, you know, vote in the primaries.

As Bush has slipped, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has alighted in first place, moving up one spot based on his emergence as the chief foil to the dynastic hopes of the Bush family. Almost as quickly, however, Walker also has shown he’s at best a shaky front-runner, as a series of evasions and gaffes have some red meat conservatives asking if he’s truly one of them and others if he’s simply too much of a rube to win:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has been surging in recent weeks, and there is a sense he could be the guy to bridge the gap between the Republican establishment and the grassroots conservative base. But campaigns are crucibles, and if the last couple of days are a harbinger of things to come, he’s in trouble. Could it be that the governor who fought so courageously against Wisconsin unions might not be ready for prime time on the national stage?

In honor of March Madness and the Final Four, here are the highly-curated current candidate brackets, a mere 337 days before the tournament starts with the crucial not-really-all-that-crucial Iowa caucuses.

THE CONTENDERS

scott-walker1-Scott Walker (+1)

The Wisconsin governor climbed into the top spot by exceeding expectations at early candidate cattle calls, while earning lasting appreciation from every union-busting plutocrat in the nation. In short order, however, he started tripping on Mr. Happy as he 1) compared public employee protesters to ISIS; 2) proposed removing “pursuit of truth” from the University of Wisconsin’s mission statement, and then withdrew the idea, blaming an off-the-reservation typist; 3) got tongue-tied when a second grader quizzed him about climate change; 4) got caught in a hall-of-mirrors debate with himself over his shifting stands on immigration; 5) broke the pander meter while sucking up to social conservatives; and 6) perhaps most grievously, dumped media favorite and Washington consultant Liz Mair, for daring to tweet the truth about the silliness of the Iowa caucus. Caveat emptor.

jebbush2-Jeb Bush (-1)

Even before his recent rapid decline in the polls, and the dawning realization among Iowa’s most engaged voters that he’s not exactly a fresh face, Bush’s one enormous weakness was becoming clear: he’s totally out of step with his party’s primary voters. Sure, he can try to finesse his squishy views on Common Core and immigration, but in the end, these two issues could be enough to disqualify him for the hard-core types who dominate the primary process.

3-Rand Paul (same rank)randpaul1

Son of Ron is still a hella’ longshot, but when he announces, a step expected sometime in the next week, he’ll start with the most clearly defined base among the rivals: the GOP’s libertarian wing, which recently made him the audience favorite at the Conservative Political Action Conference. More: in a recent CNN poll of general election voters, he runs stronger against Hillary Clinton than any other Republican.

rubio-water4-Marco Rubio (+3)

With Bush slipping and the clock ticking on Walker’s 15 minutes, Florida Senator Rubio has become the flavor of the week among the punditry class, despite the public humiliation of being schooled about the Mideast by John Kerry. Rubio won high praise among Beltway blowhards for his bootlicking skills at the Evil Empire summit convened by the Koch brothers, not to mention his ability to put two complete sentences together.

 

THE PRETENDERS

5-John Kasich (+11)john-kasich-427jc021711

Not listed last time, Ohio Governor Kasich out of nowhere has become the favorite candidate for the influential Buckeye Caucus at Calbuzz, mostly because a) he refuses to take path-to-citizenship off the table on immigration and b) we identify closely with his babbling brand of addictive motor mouth compulsion. Of course, Kasich has yet to say he’s running, but his gallivanting around New Hampshire already has home state reporters drooling that he could be their ticket to the White House, fond hopes that no doubt suffered amid word that Kasich has won the deadly George Will stamp of approval.

huckabee6-Mike Huckabee (same rank)

Still the closest thing to an authentic evangelical in the race (he has compared homosexuality to drinking, for example), the Huckster also burnished his credentials as a true entrepreneur, by seizing innovative cash-raising opportunities, like pitching dietary supplements and phony cancer cures on the Internets. What a job creator!

7-Ted Cruz (-3)ted_cruz_ap_328

Senator Creepo ranks this high only because so far he is the only declared candidate in the race. His announcement at Liberty University, which was enough to make a hog puke, got good reviews only from TV comics. Whatever tiny retrograde slice of the electorate he hopes to capture won’t be enough to capture the GOP nomination, let alone the White House.

perry8-Rick Perry (+1)

Despite our knee jerk inclination to make another cheap eyewear joke about the ex-Texas governor, we’re intirgued by an excellent piece, reported by the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram’s Dave Montgomery, analyzing the far-flung Texas Factor in the GOP race and suggesting that it’s way too early to write off Mr. One-Two-Three.

 

 

THE DELUSIONAL

christie9-Chris Christie (-4)

At one time, the New Jersey governor’s big fat boast was that he was the most electable Republican because he’d won twice in a blue state. Now he matches up worse than anyone with Hillary, and NBC’s First Read dubbed him “dead candidate walking.” The kiss of death: he’s backed by eMeg.

bobbyjindal10-Bobby Jindal (+1)

The Louisiana governor laughably tries to position himself as the candidate of ideas – hello President Gingrich! —  but his Fox News jihad against Muslims has gotten so nutso even Megyn Kelly bitch-slapped him about it.

11-Lindsey Graham (-1)graham

On a visit to Iowa, the South Carolina Senator smilingly trumpeted his war monger views, and was cavalier in his assurance that he’ll win the crucial primary in his own state. Oddly, we hope he stays in, because he’s the only Republican who’s not a total fool on climate change.

ayatollahsantorumcopyright12-Rick Santorum (-4)

Seven years after Obama was elected, Taliban Rick is still making tired jokes about the president being born in Kenya. Ha, ha. More concerning, his loose grip on reality has grown considerably looser, as he tells suckers admirers on his book tour that he “came within that much of capturing the Republican nomination.” All righty, then.

 

THE DERANGED

ben-carson13-Ben Carson (-1)

The quickest on the draw to compare the Administration to Nazi Germany, Carson is considered a serious person by Republicans, mostly because his belief that Obama is “a psychopath” is considered deep thought among Tea Party types.

trump hair14-Donald Trump (-1)

Go ahead and laugh, but The Donald has New Hampshire’s iconic Union-Leader in a total tizzy.

15 -Sarah Palin (-1)Palin-Wink1

Yeah, we know she’s not running, but we can’t bear to dump her when she’s still turning out stuff like this.

carly-fiorina16-Carly Fiorina (-1)

Somehow still dining out on her political triumph landslide loss in California, the worst business executive in the history of world told Fox News Sunday there’s “a higher than 90 percent” chance she’ll run.  Must you? Really?