A leading Republican consultant has ranked the top 10 presidential candidates for 2016 while claiming that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has about the same odds of winning the party’s nomination as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, The Washington Post reported.
The unnamed strategist divided the GOP race for 2016 into "four lanes" —
establishment, tea party, social conservative and libertarian, according to the newspaper.
Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker are the leading candidates in establishment, the largest lane, while former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is battling it out with retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum for the social conservative lane.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has the libertarian lane all by himself, while Cruz is the dominant figure in the tea party lane.
"What that means — particularly in the early stages of the primary process in places such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina — is that [Cruz] will probably be able to win, place or show repeatedly, racking up enough strongish performances to keep going even as the establishment and social-conservative lanes thin out," writes the Post’s Chris Cillizza.
"The trick for Cruz, the consultant said, is to hang around long enough to be the preeminent figure not only in the tea party lane but also in the social-conservative lane."
The newspaper said that if Cruz can outlast either Huckabee, Carson or Santorum in a possible 2016 matchup, he would be able to combine the tea party and social-conservative lanes.
"That’s a pretty wide berth for any candidate hoping to be the GOP nominee," Cillizza wrote. "Is it as wide as a consolidated establishment lane behind Bush or Walker or [Florida] Sen. Marco Rubio? No one knows just yet, but it’s probably pretty close.
"So watch Cruz. The combination of his running room as the race’s one true tea party candidate, his debating and oratorical skills, and his willingness to always, on every issue, stake out the most conservative position make him a real threat."
Nevertheless, the consultant tells the Post that he believes that Bush has the "best shot" at winning the race for the White House, with Walker in second place and Rubio in third.
Paul is ranked fourth, with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in fifth place. Tied for sixth is Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, while Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal places eighth and Mike Huckabee is in the ninth spot. Bringing up the rear in the 10th position is Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.
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