Elections are not mysterious events subject to the whimsy of unpredictable candidates and voters. They’re actually highly predictable, with a set of variables that influence outcomes in familiar ways.
Because of that, we can say, with reasonable confidence, that a Republican will be moving into the White House in 2017.
That conclusion is based on the results of a data model we created, and is primarily the result of two factors, both related to the challenges faced by “successor” candidates — candidates from the same party as the incumbent. First, a Republican will win because voters typically shy away from the party currently in power when an incumbent isn’t running. In fact, a successor candidate is three times less likely to win. Second, President Barack Obama’s approval ratings are too low to suggest a successor candidate will take the White House.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is the leader in some national polls for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. He’s also the least-known candidate in some surveys. There could be a relationship between those two factors.
Start with the new Fox News poll, done the last few days of March. Pollsters gave respondents, all registered voters, a list of seven Republican candidates — Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Walker, and Ben Carson. “Please tell me whether you have a generally favorable or unfavorable opinion of each one,” the pollsters asked. And then they added, “If you’ve never heard of one, please just say so.”