WASHINGTON – Both presidential nomination contests having been scrambled by recent events – the FBI taking control of Hillary Clinton’s private email server and a raucous, roiling GOP debate – the third edition of the Racing Form is herewith rushed into print.
Legal disclaimer: This column is for betting purposes only. What follows is analysis – scrubbed, as thoroughly as a Clinton server, of advocacy. (Unless I simply can’t resist.)
No longer. She has fallen from her 95-percent barring-an-act-of-God perch. The email imbroglio has already badly damaged her credibility. But now that she’s lost control of the server, there is potential for further, conceivably fatal, damage. It hinges largely on how successful she was in erasing the 32,000 emails she unilaterally deemed private.
Whatever happens, she will stay in the race. Clintons never quit. But if more top-secret information is found, if she did destroy work-related emails and if her numbers continue their steady decline, the party might decide it simply can’t afford to continue carrying her baggage.
Meanwhile, over at the GOP …
Since the debate, his numbers have plateaued, and in some places declined. In New Hampshire, for example, he’s gone from the mid-20s to the high teens. And he had a rough debate, as reflected in the Suffolk University poll in Iowa taken right afterward, in which, by 55-23, respondents felt less comfortable with him as president.
Nonetheless, his core support, somewhere around 20 percent (plus or minus a couple), remains as solid as that once commanded by Ron Paul and Ross Perot. Which means Trump will likely continue to lead until the field whittles down to a handful, at which point 20 percent is no longer a plurality.
Teflon Don. Solid constituency, fixed ceiling. Chances of winning his party’s nomination? About the same as Sanders winning his.
Rubio had the best debate performance of the prime-time 10 – fluid, passionate, in command. And he was already No. 1 in the “who could you support” question (at 62 percent), crucial in a 17-member field.
Odds for each? Rubio 3-1. Bush and Walker 4-1.
Kasich was engaging and compelling as the bleeding-heart conservative and successful tough-guy governor. Not an easy trick.
Fiorina displayed raw talent that surprised everyone who didn’t know her – and 6 million watched. Articulate, knowledgeable and relentlessly combative, she took on Clinton, Trump and Barack Obama. Being in the undercard was a stroke of luck. She took the stage and made it her own.
Odds for the second-tier? 9-1 but with high ceilings for each.
Bonus Racing Form feature: the general election.
Conventional wisdom is that the GOP is tearing itself apart and headed south. What’s becoming clear, however, is that the Democrats are equally split ideologically – Clinton desperately moving left as Sanders’ crowds grow – and increasingly nervous about her chronic, shall we say, character problem.
Both parties limp into November 2016. Current odds? GOP: 55 percent.
And note how thin is the Democrat’s bench. After Clinton, no one, while the GOP stage sports perhaps eight to 10 impressive, plausibly presidential figures, including (for those who count such things) two Hispanics, a female former Fortune 500 CEO and an African-American brain surgeon.
And one white guy fluent in Spanish. Try engaging Bernie or Hill en español.
Charles Krauthammer’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.