Some years ago I did rankings of Presidential candidates on my old LiveJournal (now deceased), and given this cycle's bountiful bounty it would be a shame not to do it again. Since the Republicans have already conveniently provided an initial ranking of those who get to sit at the adult debate table and those who have to sit at the kids table, let's start emptying out the clown car:
Tier 1: Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker
Rationale: Trump may not have a chance at the nomination, but for now he's in the running as the candidate who is truly giving the people what they want: spectacle. Jeb Bush is the old money candidate of the GOP, with an obvious pedigree, while Scott Walker is the darling of the Tea Party. Of the three, Jeb is the only one who really could get the nomination and win in the general election, as Trump simply isn't credible and Walker is too cozy with the crazy for the comfort of most voters.
Tier 2: Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, John Kasich, Marco Rubio
Rationale: The "moderate" longshots who are hoping to last long enough to either be there if Jeb falters. Christie is obnoxious, which helps his moderation go over better with Tea Party types, but I don't think Christie has enough appeal with the crayzee GOP base to last long in 2016. Fiorina is fashionably conservative and a business executive like Trump and has done better in the debates than expected, which is why she's at the adult's table now. Kasich is Jeb without all the Bush baggage and in my opinion could win in the general election, but it's hard to see how he gets there given the crowded field and the fact that he's not a Tea Party type. Rubio, while he looks fine on paper and is from a state the GOP absolutely needs to win in 2016, hasn't caught on despite having some success at fund-rasing. Well, there's still time for Rubio's fortunes to rise I suppose, and he's definitely VP material since he's both from a key electoral state and Hispanic too.
Tier 3: Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul
Rationale: Carson is inexplicably popular but is still just a flash-in-the-pan, so I hope he enjoys the ride while it lasts. Ted Cruz is explicably popular given his over-the-top performance doing things like going to Kentucky to support gay-marriage hatin' county clerks, along with Huckabee of course, but they're also just part of the sideshow and have absolutely no chance to win. Rand Paul seems to be the Fred Thompson of 2016 and fallen far short of initial expectations, but he's still got his father's legacy and lingers on for now.
Tier 4: Rick Perry, Rich Santorum, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki, Lindsey Graham
Rationale: The kid's table tier, full of either also-rans like Perry and Santorum, and never-will-be's like the rest. But they still could have fun taking potshots at the adults as Jindal is now doing with Trump and have some impact on the race.
More after the next GOP debate...