Cook: The Republican Presidential Bracket

Few people believe the Republican presidential primary fight will be decided quickly. Indeed some political analysts predict it could be the longest in more than a generation despite RNC efforts to limit the number of debates and condense the state primary schedule.

While the battle for the Democrat nomination is expected to go to Hillary Clinton, with perhaps a few surprises along the way, the Republican battle brings together more candidates vying for the same voter blocs than ever before.

To wit, seasoned political analyst Charlie Cook is out in the National Journal with what he calls his ‘GOP Bracket Challenge’ which segments the horde of growing candidates into groups based on their positioning on the spectrum.

CIB013015-Bracket1The first bracket includes those dubbed the ‘establishment’ candidates of which are the obvious Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and Carly Fiorina. Mitt Romney has officially announced that he will not be seeking the 2016 nomination. Historically, the eventual GOP nominees have come from this bracket, with the most recent exception being Ronald Reagan.

CIB013015-Bracket2Cook goes on to call his second bracket the ‘conservative governor/former governor’ group which includes a much larger gaggle: John Kasich (OH), Mike Pence (IN), Rick Perry (TX), Rick Snyder (MI) and Scott Walker (WI). Candidates in this bracket all, more or less, boast ‘outside the beltway’ bonafides with executive experience.

His third bracket is the ‘Tea Party’ which includes the inevitably anti-DC candidates like Ted Cruz, Rand CIB013015-Bracket31Paul, Donald Trump and possibly Sarah Palin. These are the candidates most likely to go for the jugular against the establishment bracket during the debates.

Last is what Cook calls the ‘religious conservative’ bracket which includes Bobby Jindal, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Santorum. As the primary continues to heat, it will be clear that only one strong candidate can CIB013015-Bracket4emerge from each of these brackets or none will. The Iowa Caucuses may likely force a sorting of the brackets to that effect.