Rubio vs. Walker vs. Bush

Hans Noel (who is about as smart a guy as there is when it comes to primaries) analyzes the recent survey of party activists to come to some interesting conclusions:

As Mark Blumenthal and Ariel Edwards-Levy reported last week, Walker and Rubio are runaway winners when you add their first- and second-choice votes. They also dominate when you ask if there are any candidates that you could not in any way support. Jeb Bush, Donald Trump, Chris Christie and Lindsey Graham all fall below 75 percent acceptable, as you can see in this figure. If you think (as I do) that Bush supporters are underrepresented in this ideological activist sample, you might conclude that this is mainly a contest between Bush, Walker and Rubio, with several others having some significant support.


I interpret these figures as suggesting:

1. Bush is the candidate of moderates and those who like established politicians. He draws from Kasich and Christie, as well as Rubio (more on him in a second). People who like Bush like a lot of different candidates second, but Rubio dominates.

2. Walker is the candidate of the ideological purists. He and Rubio have a lot of overlap, but he also draws from Cruz and Trump.

3. Rubio seems to bridge these two camps. He has more overlap with Bush, Kasich and Christie than Walker does, but he overlaps with Walker and Trump a lot too…

Established politicians will have more clout, and rank-and-file voters will make the actual decisions. But activists are where a lot of the action in the party is, and these activists tell a story of a factional fight between Bush and Walker, with Rubio possibly appealing to both sides.

There’s a lot still to happen, of course, but based on what we know at this point, this strikes me as a fairly probably scenario.  As of now, anybody who is not one of these three probably just does not have much of a chance.  Sure, some others will have some good runs with media coverage and the polls, but they are probably destined to just be the Cain or Santorum of 2016.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

One Response to Rubio vs. Walker vs. Bush

  1. rgbact says:

    I agree. It’ll be either Bush, Walker, or Rubio. I give Kasich an outside chance if Jeb does awful in the debates, and then Kasich can take the moderate slot from him. So far, Jeb’s political skills seem very rusty, so there certainly is a chance for Kasich to unseat him. They have similar resumes, ones just got a more famous last name,

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