Don’t take it from me, take it from National Review:
To win the GOP primary and, more important, the general election, a candidate must be able to play to both grassroots supporters and the major donors. Since the dawn of the era of Internet campaigns, beginning in the 2000 election, no candidate in either party who was not, at this point in the election cycle, in the top two in grassroots fundraising has won the nomination, nor has any candidate outside the top three in major-donor funding…
I have compared the cumulative fundraising data from the election to date with the data through the same quarter of the 2012, 2008, 2004, and 2000 election cycles to see what we can learn about which candidates are likely to do well and which candidates are almost certain to fail. From examining the data, several striking patterns emerge, and if fundraising history is any guide to the present, all of the following assertions will prove true.
- Jeb Bush has almost no chance of being the GOP nominee, owing to a near-complete lack of support from the GOP’s rank-and-file donors. John Kasich, Chris Christie, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, Lindsey Graham, and George Pataki also have almost no chance of being the GOP nominee, much less of winning the general election.
- Contrary to media narratives, Ted Cruz looks to be in the strongest position to win the nomination, given the fundraising data. The one major wild card in that analysis is Donald Trump, currently by far the leader in GOP polling. His support base overlaps in some ways with Cruz’s. He hasn’t fundraised actively, so it is difficult to draw firm conclusions, but it seems likely that he would be a very strong in both major-donor and grassroots fundraising. He looks like the favorite, but the party establishment, as well as a significant number of conservative activists, are set against him. He’s a unique candidate with unique positioning, and therefore he is uniquely challenging to quantify using traditional measurements.
- Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio could still win the nomination. But compared with past successful nominees, they have substantial fundraising and strategic weaknesses right now. In Rubio’s case, those weaknesses have been under-recognized. Ben Carson cannot be entirely excluded but rates as very, very unlikely to be the nominee, given historical patterns.
Read the whole thing. If and when Trump fades, or can’t get a real ground game going in the early primary states, watch for much of his support to move to Cruz.