While previous polls the past three months almost unanimously show real estate tycoon and reality TV celebrity Donald Trump at the top, with the lastest poll showing Dr. Ben Carson as overtaking him, the 2016 GOP Power Index, compiled by Chris Stirewalt, digital politics director at FOX News, has in the past shown establishment RINO Jeb Bush at the top of the index.
Rather than use polling data exclusively, which is volatile, fluid, and often very temporary — and not a very good predictor of future results — Stirewalt’s ratings focus more on long-term staying power of each candidate, taking into account fundraising, the Mother’s milk of politics and other criteria that indicates longevity.
There are plenty of flash-in-the-pan candidates one could mention at this point in the election cycle who were ahead at this point in the polls, who ultimately didn’t make it to the nomination — Rudy Guliani and Mike Huckabee come to mind.
As Stirewalt puts it, the index is not just about who is ahead in the latest poll (it is political newcomer Dr. Ben Carson), “It’s about who has the best path to their party’s nomination.”
Despite Donald Trump’s shocking three-month stint at the top of the polls, establishment RINO Jeb Bush has been hovering at the top of the 2016 GOP Power Index, largely due to the fact, as Stirewalt has recently put it, “The GOP establishment usually gets what it wants.”
Stirewalt explains why big-moneyed Jeb Bush has fallen from grace:
What put Bush at the top of the list from the start was that his superior organization, enormous cash reserves and united support from the GOP establishment would allow him to do what the last two GOP nominees did and outlast and outspend insurgent rivals in the springtime.
But now it’s clear that Bush has some serious problems and seriously doesn’t seem to know how to fix them.
In an interview on “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace” Bush acknowledged his struggles saying, “Candidates have to get better, and that’s what I intend to do.” But, as he has done before, Bush said that his deep financial resources would keep him in the race and help deliver a victory.
Even though it’s not necessarily showing in the various polls at this early date, Chris Stirewalt says that, “There’s been a seismic shakeup this week, knocking Jeb Bush from the top spot for the first time since the race began.”
And who does Stirewalt put at the top of the crowded GOP field? The name might surprise you, especially coming from FOX News, which tends to run very GOP establishment, with Bush operative Karl Rove seemingly pulling the strings.
The new leader is Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a thorn in the side of the Republican establishment from the very beginning of his service in the U.S. Senate.
RELATED: Ted Cruz Launches Two Cruz Missiles at RINO Surrender Caucus Leader, Obama’s Mitch McConnell
Stirewalt says that despite the polls, the most likely GOP nominee at this point is Ted Cruz, considering Cruz’s strong fundraising, favorability rating among GOP voters, as well as the underestimated “grassroots army.”
Among all voters in the latest Fox News poll, Bush turns in a net favorable score of negative 21 points. That’s nearly as bad as Donald Trump who sits at -25 points and worse than Hillary Clinton, who registered at -18 points.
With Republican voters Cruz isn’t the top of the class, but shows his strength with +21 points. It’s better than Trump’s +12 and soars over Bush’s meager +1 point.
Ben Carson has the highest favorability at +52 points, far and away the most popular guy in the field. Other top spots for favorability go to Rubio (+35 points) and Carly Fiorina (+30 points).
But here we go back to fundamentals. Can these candidates, particularly Carson, endure as top-tier contenders? Are they gifted enough politicians and do they have the operational wherewithal and fundraising depth to fight in what will be the fastest-moving GOP primary cycle in memory.
When you have a candidate that has both favorability and money though, that’s when you have a viable challenger.
Cruz, as we discussed earlier, has the money but he also his self-described “grassroots army,” including a stable niche among evangelical groups. He took the top spot in the straw poll at this weekend’s Value Voters Summit in Washington for the third year in a row.
Ted Cruz is the new leader in the 2016 GOP Power Index, surpassing Jeb Bush:
1) Ted Cruz; 2) Jeb Bush [-1]; 3) Carly Fiorina [+1]; 4) Marco Rubio [+1]; 5) Donald Trump [-2]; 6) Ben Carson; 7) John Kasich [+2]; 8) Chris Christie [+2]; 9) Mike Huckabee [previously unranked]; 10) Rand Paul [-1]
Most polls, not that this is a poll, but more of an analysis, refer to a clear “top six” candidates, with the rest of the candidates significantly far behind.
Those top six are Trump, Carson, Fiorina, Rubio, Cruz and Jeb Bush, not necessarily in that order.