It was a bet I’ll never see a nickel from. A conservative friend claimed last year that Scott Walker was “definitely” going to be America’s next President. They were so sure of this that they entered a pricey bet with me: $1,000 to him if Walker became the next President, and $1,000 to me if that didn’t happen. Scott Walker is now officially out of the running, and surprise-surprise… I haven’t seen a dime.
The 2016 GOP primary has been a circus freak-show the likes of which Barnum and Bailey had only dreamt of organizing. And while we haven’t yet enjoyed the same sorts of gaffes we saw during the 2012 GOP primary — Michele Bachmann celebrating serial killers, Rick Perry failing to remember that third thing he wanted to get rid of, or Herman Cain, well, existing — 2016 has been a delight nonetheless, as we non-Republicans watch a large assortment of fumbling partisan hacks trip over themselves to prove which is the most like Ronald Reagan, and which hates Mexicans the most.
The 2016 election cycle has already seen two victims plummet into obscurity: Rick Perry and Scott Walker have already been sent packing, months before the first caucus. But there are still plenty of loopy right-wingers in the race.
Who will drop out next? Who is going to call it quits in the next few weeks and months? Anything can happen in the GOP primary season, so the best we can do is toss a few dice and make a few guesses. Here are our predictions for whose going to leave the campaign trail next:
Candidates That Are Probably Leaving Before November 1st
Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, and Bobby Jindal will all likely drop out before November 1st, unless they manage to land big donors, deliver some heavy punches in debates, and shift their campaigns into a much higher gear. As it stands, the three of them have had lackluster campaigns to date and haven’t lived up to their hype, just as Scott Walker and Rick Perry had failed to do. Look for their exits in the coming month.
Candidates Who Can’t Win, But Won’t Quit
Jim Gilmore, Rick Santorum, and Chris Christie have no shot at winning the primary, but will stick it out as long as they possibly can, probably surviving into the earliest rounds of primaries and caucuses. Santorum is attempting to follow, but better capitalize on, his 2012 campaign strategy: keep your head down low and let everyone else beat on each other, then emerge at the last possible second as a serious contender. The problem with that tactic is the same in 2016 as it was in 2012… You can’t build up serious momentum out of primary wins alone.
Right-Wing Nutjobs With NO Shot In The General
Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee seem to be surviving the primaries with steady numbers (as steady as polling under 10% can be considered, anyway), and they might even manage to challenge in the primaries, or *gasp* become the nominee. But neither of these clowns has even a remote shot at the White House. They’re both radical right-wing nuts who want to see America transformed into a Christian theocracy. If either of them is the nominee, Sanders or Clinton can expect a massive landslide victory.
“Moderates” Who Could Challenge Sanders or Clinton in The General, But Won’t Make It That Far
Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina, Rand Paul, and John Kasich are the only candidates running in the 2016 GOP primary that might actually dish up a few sleepless nights to Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton. Though it’s hard to really refer to them as “moderates” with a straight face, they’re about as middle-of-the-road ideologically as anyone in the race, particularly Rand Paul, who is as close to a Republican as any progressive voter could possibly consider supporting. But to win the GOP debate, you need to dance with the devil by the pale moon light, and none of these candidates are willing to get nuts. Yeah, I just quoted Tim Burton’s Batman. You wanna fight about it? Moving on.
Candidates Who Could Go All The Way (In The Primary, Anyway)
Last but not least, we come to the candidates who will most likely survive past super Tuesday, and no, there isn’t a single “presidential” figure in the lot: Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Jeb Bush have had persistent polling and aren’t struggling financially. One of those three figures will most likely be the Republican nominee, and they’ll probably pick Rubio, Fiorina, Paul, or Kasich as a running mate with the hopes of balancing their ticket out and appealing to moderates.
The good news? None of these clowns could actually win the General, so long as Democrats get out and vote. It’s still early, and anything can happen between now and January, but as the election stands today, it’s ours to lose, folks.