Analysis: Who's Really Leading the Presidential Race?

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are leading in the polls for the Republican and Democratic, respectively, presidential nominee, but those polls are not the best indicator of which candidates are currently the strongest. There are better ways to measure who has the best chance of winning the nomination.

(Photo: Reuters/Brian Snyder)Republican 2016 presidential candidates (L-R) New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, Dr. Ben Carson, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, businessman Donald Trump, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, U.S. Senator Rand Paul and Ohio Governor John Kasich pose at the start of the first official Republican presidential candidates debate of the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign in Cleveland, Ohio, August 6, 2015.

Asking voters who they would vote for if the election were held today favors the candidates with the highest name recognition. The candidates who usually win, however, are those who are most acceptable to the broadest range of a party's factions and considered able to win the election.

There are three other measures that, this early in the race, will provide a better picture of who is actually most likely to win the nomination.

1. Favorability

Since many of the candidates are not even known to some voters, one indicator of which candidates voters will like is the difference in favorability and unfavorability ratings among the voters with an opinion. One of the options pollsters provide when asking if they find a candidate "favorable or unfavorable" is "no opinion." For some of the less well known candidates, this is the most common answer.

To better compare the candidates' favorability, I developed a score, from -100 to 100 for each candidate based upon their favorability and unfavorability ratings in the most recent Monmouth University polls for Republicans and Democrats. (Here is the formula: (favorability - unfavorability)/(100 - "no opinion")*100)

Here, in order from best to worst, are those scores:

Republicans

Ben Carson

63

Scott Walker

57

Ted Cruz

49

Marco Rubio

47

Bobby Jindal

41

Mike Huckabee

39

Rick Santorum

39

Rick Perry

36

Rand Paul

26

Jeb Bush

25

Carly Fiorina

24

John Kasich

9

Donald Trump

-1

Chris Christie

-29

Jim Gilmore

-30

Lindsey Graham

-32

George Pataki

-42

Democrats

Hillary Clinton

63

Bernie Sanders

49

Martin O'Malley

-4

Jim Webb

-7

Lincoln Chafee

-16


2. Overall Fundraising

Another important measure of the strength of a campaign is how much money it has raised. While fundraising doesn't always predict the winner of an election, money is a necessary component to any good campaign.

Here are the fundraising totals in millions of dollars, including from outside groups, for each of the candidates in order from best to worst based upon last month's SEC filing (data provided by OpenSecrets.org):

Republicans

Jeb Bush

120.0

Ted Cruz

52.5

Marco Rubio

42.0

Scott Walker

26.2

Rick Perry

15.0

Chris Christie

14.0

Rand Paul

13.9

John Kasich

11.7

Ben Carson

10.8

Bobby Jindal

9.3

Lindsey Graham

6.6

Mike Huckabee

6.5

Carly Fiorina

5.2

Donald Trump

1.9

George Pataki

1.1

Rick Santorum

0.9

Jim Gilmore

0.0

Democrats

Hillary Clinton

67.8

Bernie Sanders

15.2

Martin O'Malley

2.6

Lincoln Chafee

0.4

Jim Webb

0


3. Number of Donors

Campaigns need people power. A strong election campaign will have a base of loyal supporters who are willing to do the difficult work of canvassing their communities for the candidate. While it is too early to get an objective measure of unpaid volunteers, a proxy at this point is the number of donors. Another helpful number to look at is the amount of small individual contributions as a percentage of overall contributions to a candidates campaign.

Contact: napp.nazworth@christianpost.com, @NappNazworth (Twitter)