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USA TODAY GOP Power Rankings, Week 2: Fiorina on fire

Posted by armen chang Tuesday, September 15, 2015 0 comments

If Donald Trump is looking in his rearview mirror, he will see Carly Fiorina gaining on him.
The former Hewlett Packard CEO has had several good weeks, and our political experts now have her in third place in the GOP 2016 power rankings. In the second week of our rankings, our panel has Fiorina moving up from sixth place to third, while Florida Sen. Marco Rubio drops from third to the sixth-place spot she vacated.
What has changed since last week?
“More awareness of stronger candidates like Carly Fiorina,” said talk-show host and former presidential candidate Herman Cain. “She’s moved up and rightly so.”
Deb Lucia, a Kansas Tea Party activist, agreed. “Biggest winner this week is Fiorina,” she said. “The CNN debate controversy put her in the spotlight and many people took a look at her for the first time and liked what they saw.”
While the rest of our field largely held their positions this week, the next couple of weeks are likely to have a significant impact on the standings. For example, Emory University professor Andra Gillespie said, “Looking ahead, it will be interesting to see if Mike Huckabee can generate any additional support in the polls as a result of the earned media he is getting for supporting Kim Davis in Kentucky.” Davis is the Kentucky county clerk who went to jail rather than issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. Huckabee stood beside her as she walked out of jail Tuesday.
And the second GOP debate is Sept. 16, which could seal the fate of some of the lower-tier candidates. “Is there a rank lower than 17?” asks former Democratic congressman Dan Maffei. He notes that Jeb Bush is benefiting from the fact that none of the other candidates with political experience has managed to generate a lot of enthusiasm.
Of course, Trump remains No. 1 in our poll by a wide margin, with 22 first-place votes. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson continues to do well with five first-place votes, Jeb Bush got two, and one voter chose Rubio as the strongest candidate this week.
Also, cooler heads warn against getting excited just yet. “After months of campaigning and media coverage, this race is just beginning,” said Nathan Gonzales of the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report. “There is a long time between now and February, when people start making real choices.”

WEEK 2 RANKINGS

1. DONALD TRUMP (LAST WEEK: 1)

2. BEN CARSON (2)

3. CARLY FIORINA (6)

4. JEB BUSH (4)

5. TED CRUZ (5)

6. MARCO RUBIO (3)

7. JOHN KASICH (8)

8. SCOTT WALKER (7)

9. MIKE HUCKABEE (9)

10. RAND PAUL (10)

11. CHRIS CHRISTIE (11)

12. BOBBY JINDAL (13)

13. RICK SANTORUM (12)

14. RICK PERRY (14)

15. LINDSEY GRAHAM (15)

16. GEORGE PATAKI (16)

17. JIM GILMORE (17)

Participants in USA TODAY’s GOP Power Rankings:
Kristen Soltis Anderson, Republican pollster and author of The Selfie Vote
Henry Barbour, Republican strategist, Mississippi
Paul Brathwaiteprincipal, Podesta Group
Dianne Bystrom, director, Center for Women and Politics, Iowa State University
Herman Cain, talk show host and former GOP presidential candidate
Maria Cardona, Democratic strategist and CNN Commentator, The Dewey Square Group
Frank Donatelli, former RNC deputy chairman and Reagan advisor
Sara Fagen, partner, DDC Advocacy
Peter Fenn, Democratic political strategist, Fenn Communications
Denise Feriozzi, deputy executive director, EMILY’s List
Karen Floyd, CEO, The Palladian Group and former South Carolina GOP chair
Aaron Ghitelman, communications manager, HeadCount
Andra Gillespie, polling analyst and political science professor, Emory University
Nathan L. Gonzales, editor, The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report
Lilly J. Goren, political science and global studies professor, Carroll University
Doug Gross, Iowa attorney and previous Republican gubernatorial nominee
O. Kay Henderson, news director, Radio Iowa
Ken Khachigian, senior partner, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck
Carl Leubsdorf, Washington columnist, The Dallas Morning News
Deb Lucia, Topeka 912 – the Capital City Tea Party
Matt Mackowiak, Republican consultant and president, Potomac Strategy Group, LLC
Dan Maffei, former Democratic congressman, New York
Phil Musser, chairman, IMGE digital media agency
Margie Omero, Democratic pollster, Purple Insights
Jon Ralston, host, “Ralston Live” on PBS affiliates in Nevada
Craig Robinson, founder and editor, TheIowaRepublican.com
Alan Rosenblatt, Ph.D., Sr. VP of digital strategy, turner4D
Dante Scala, political science professor, University of New Hampshire
Adam Sharp, head of news, government and elections, Twitter
Alex Smith, national chairman, College Republicans
Todd Spangler, Washington correspondent, Detroit Free Press
Kathy Sullivan, DNC committeewoman and former Democratic Party chair, New Hampshire

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