Roger L. Simon

Which Republican Candidates Could Win the General?

Hey, it’s Labor Day, which means it’s time to get serious (after the barbecue).  It also means football season is upon us and we’re all once again living under the indisputable and unwavering dictum of the late, great Coach Lombardi:  “Winning isn’t everything.  It’s the only thing.”

How un-PC.  But never mind — like almost everything that’s un-PC, it’s true.

So it’s time to get serious about the presidential election, to start evaluating the candidates for whether they can win, not just in the Republican primaries but in the Big Show, as they say.  As Vince Lomardi would no doubt agree, if you can’t win the general, don’t bother.

What follows is my analysis  of who among the Republicans can actually win the presidential Super Bowl. I will classify their ability to prevail in the general as Likely, Possible and Unlikely with a brief comment. The assumption for now is they will be running either against Hillary Clinton (getting less likely), Bernie Sanders (getting slightly more likely) or Joe Biden (most likely, assuming the Democrats decide against taking a suicide pill in the end).  Someone else could emerge, of course. John Kerry after his Nobel Prize?  Al Gore if Tipper doesn’t talk? Stay tuned.

I evaluate the top eleven Republicans in the RCP averages in their order as of now. Bye-bye, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry and all the other Ricks that didn’t make it.  They’re over, like them or not.  (I think Rick Perry’s a great guy and might have made a good president, even won the general, but, as I said, it’s Labor Day.  Time to get serious.)

Greater minds than I, like Bill Kristol, see it  differently.  Bill’s already discounting Trump — the Republicans’ “summer fling” — as well as the man he predicts will be their fall favorite, Carson. Seems like wishful thinking to me.  The non-politician rebellion is for real. Also, I suspect the rebels have the biggest chance of winning the whole enchilada in the end.

Still, as everyone says, “it’s early,” so no doubt I will amend and extend again and again.  Also no doubt many of you will disagree with me.  That’s part of the game. You can leave your comments in the usual spot below or feel free to hack into my private server, which is currently in a corner of Steve Green’s basement in Colorado hooked up to a fire hose.  Hey, you might even find some Benghazi emails.  And if you discover Sid Blumenthal was writing me, don’t tell anyone.


1. DONALD TRUMP – Likely –  Forget the Beltway-types. Could be surprisingly easy winner in general.  If Donald has to fight Hillary, I think he’d make her cry (wouldn’t that be fun?). Watching Trump debate Sanders would outdraw every episode of Saturday Night Live ever made, Belushi included..

2. BEN CARSON – Likely – If he continues to learn the political ropes (and why wouldn’t he — it’s not brain surgery, haha), might be the most formidable candidate in the general, untouchable, sort of like running Gandhi. Mainstream media would twist into pretzels trying to bring him down.  What a great opportunity to call those creeps racist.  I can’t wait.

3.  JEB BUSH – Possible – He might be able to beat Hillary. (Hell, she might be indicted half way through and then my dog could beat her.)  Against Biden he’d be in serious trouble.  Even though Joe’s been around for a hundred years, he’s not part of a dynasty.  And we’re all — left and right — sick to death of dynasties.  Also, turnout an issue.  Base problems worse than Romney.

4. MARCO RUBIO – Likely – Among all the professional politician candidates, he’d have best chance in the general. Charismatic Republican JFK.  All the possible Democratic candidates look like his grandfather (or grandmother, assuming Hillary married Fernando Lamas). Good speaker with foreign policy credentials as the world falls apart.

5. TED CRUZ – Possible – Again a problem against Biden because would be perceived as too right wing and too socially conservative in the general.  Very smart, but not warm and fuzzy on television. That counts, alas. (We’re talking the general here.)

6. CARLY FIORINA – Likely – Carly versus Hillary would be a battle for the ages and Carly would doubtless prevail.  As we’ve seen, she’s smarter.  She’d also run rings around Biden.  Watching her explain to Sanders why socialism doesn’t work would be a great teaching moment for America (not that he’d understand).

7. SCOTT WALKER – Possible – Scott seems to be blanding out.  Could happen in the general as well.  Might still just beat Hillary, but voters in the comfort zone with Biden.

8. JOHN KASICH – Likely – Has demonstrated shrewdness in debate.  Experienced candidate who could win close election. Ohio an obvious asset.

9. MIKE HUCKABBE – Unlikely – Would be painted as too much of a social con in the general. Millennials turned off. Doesn’t have other assets to counteract it.  Can play guitar, but not well enough.

10. CHRIS CHRISTIE – Possible – Veering toward likely, but still tarnished by Bridgegate.  Good feisty speaker though.  Let’s wait until after Reagan Library debate September 16 and reevaluate.

11. RAND PAUL – Unlikely – Geeky style of libertarianism getting old and he seems a tad desperate. This won’t play well in the general.  Sinking.

Coming soon from Mad Voter (after the CNN debate): Candidate Power Rankings.

More at PJ Media:

How Does the 2016 Race for the GOP Presidential Nomination Play Out?

Forget What You’ve Heard: Republicans Have the Demographic Edge for 2016