2016 Presidential Election Nominees
2016 Presidential Election nominees
After two consecutive Democratic Party victories in the Presidential Election (2008 and 2012), the Republican Party will be looking to regain the country’s top Executive position although they face significant challenges in doing so. President Barack Obama remains relatively popular although he has taken quite a battering on the healthcare reform issue with the Republicans fighting tooth and nail to deny him any progress in this field. His final two years will also be significant, since Congressional elections in 2014 will probably see the Republicans take over the Senate, thus denying Obama a majority in both Houses of Congress – this will have a substantial negative effect on any legislation that he may attempt to pass. These final two years will have an effect on the candidates’ position for the 2016 election. Let us make some observations on the Republican field first.
As in every race, there are the hot favourites, the likely favourites and the not so hot favourites with the Republican Party full of each three categories. The first candidate making the grade is probably Jeb Bush, brother of George W Bush. He is supported by the business side of the Republican Party, but there is no indication at all that he wants to take the plunge and run for the White House. Bush has several plus points in his political baggage, he was a very popular governor of the mother of all swing states; Florida and his wife is a Latino-American which could mean quite a bit in the battle for the Hispanic vote. However his name is obviously his biggest drawback with the last Bush Presidency being seen as a disaster by many. A Hilary Clinton-Jeb Bush contest would take us all back to the political Stone Age and would probably see Bush lose by a large margin.
The next candidate on the list for the Republicans is the current governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie. Until recently, Christie was seen as the sure fire favourite to secure the Republican nomination but the scandal regarding the closure of the George Washington Bridge in New Jersey has hurt his chances somewhat. The deputy speaker of the New Jersey assembly, John Wisniewki is also unearthing evidence in a special investigation and if the worst case scenario happens, Christie will probably have to be removed from office, leaving his Presidential bid in tatters. Christie is also wooing the Evangelical camp of the party by supporting pro-life issues that will hurt him with the (ever shrinking) pro-life base of the Republican Party.
Florida senator Ted Cruz is another top tier Republican candidate although realistically, he would be completely crushed in a general election, just like Barry Goldwater was in 1964 against Lyndon Johnson. Cruz is very far to the right on almost every issue and he also has problems regarding his citizenship, since he was born in Canada and the primaries will focus on this issue that could substantially hurt his voter base. Although he could theoretically win the nomination, he has no chance of winning a general election, whatever candidate the Democrats put up against him.
Former Vice Presidential nominee in 2008, Sarah Palin is reputedly musing a run for the White House. Although Palin is well known and a fearsome fund raiser, she is too controversial to appeal to the nation in a General Election. She could get a substantial part of the woman vote if she ran against Hilary Clinton but she would undoubtedly be trounced in the swing states where her reputation is worse than bad. She is similar to Cruz on several issues but although the Florida senator is to the right, he comes across as quite a conventional politician. With Palin, her outspoken statements, especially about Russia could spell disaster not just for the Republican Party but also for the country. In all probability, the Republican establishment will prevent her from running.
Rand Paul, son of Libertarian candidate Ron Paul is occasionally seen as one of the front runners for the Presidency. Paul is on the modern Libertarian ticket, but unfortunately for him, this is not a popular position in the Republican Party at the moment. His stance on gay marriage where he advocates decisions by the states will definitely not win him any votes from the Evangelical side of the party. He is also liberal on the legalization of marijuana which will certainly destroy any of his slim chances of getting the Republican nomination. Other controversial positions include his stance on abortion as well as an isolationist foreign policy. Although Rand Paul is far more polished and suave than his father who ran for President numerous times but was viewed as a complete maverick, he will have to go back on several of his stances if he wants to appeal to the Republican voter base which is on the far right of the political spectrum. He was also embroiled in controversy when he was found copying speech material and his reaction left much to be desired. A very far-fetched bet for the Republican nomination.
Another Cuban-American who was seen as a top tier favourite for quite some time was Marco Rubio. He has several endearing qualities, a handsome face and demeanour, very articulate on the stump and a strong Latino voter base. However, his pushing for a bill in favour of illegal immigrants has got the anti-immigration groups hot under their collar and this has severely hit his chances for the Republican nomination. He is very strong with the Latino community and would be quite crucial to that voter base. However, the fact that he is a Cuban-American may work against him since Cuba is not seen in such a bad light as it used to be these days so the isolationist and aggressive pitch may not strike a chord with many Latinos and Hispanics who mostly come from Mexico anyway.
Nikki Haley, the current governor of South Carolina is up for re-election this year but could toss her hat into the race for the Republican nomination. She is an Indian-American (just like current Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal) and can appeal to minorities, especially women from these backgrounds. Although could help her in a General Election, it will probably be a hindrance in the Republican primaries where the conservative, all-White male voter tends to have the sway. Her religious beliefs are also an issue since she is still a Sikh. Although she will probably win the South Carolina primary hands down, she would suffer considerably in other states where the ethnic composition is very different.
The former governor of Arkansas Micke Huckabee had thrown his hat in the ring in 2008 and for some months, he was the front runner in the Republican Primaries just behind John McCain, although he eventually lost out. He has extremely good standing with the evangelical wing of the party but his national appeal is limited so he would definitely lose a General Election. Much depends on the other evangelical candidate in the field, the former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum who also contested in 2012 but was eventually heavily beaten by Mitt Romney for the nomination.
The former Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan who is also the Majority Leader in the House of Representatives for the Republicans, could be a strong candidate on theoretical grounds. He is currently viewed as Speaker in waiting when John Boehner decides to retire so he might not be interested for President just yet. His national appeal is also limited and his fantasy budgets have drawn criticism from both sides of the political divide so he will probably stand no chance in a General Election and will probably also do quite badly in the Republican Primary.
We have already mentioned Rick Santorum who came a distant second in the 2012 Republican primaries and who could be a serious challenger for the nomination. His impressive run in 2012 with very little money could prove to be crucial for national recognition in 2016 and he has the backing of several rich businessmen including the billionaire Foster Friess who will undoubtedly fund a very strong campaign. However, he is only focused on social issues such as gay marriage and abortion so if Mick Huckabee decides to run, he could be in trouble since Huckabee will peel away a substantial number of votes from his base.
Another current Republican who could be an outside bet for the nomination is Wisconsin governor Scott Walker. He is seen as appealing to both sides of the political divide within the Republican Party, largely due to his stance on unions that earned him a recall election victory. He is also very anti-abortion, having restricted the use of abortion clinics in his state. However, although he is popular within the Republican Party, he is not at all known nationally and his right wing stances will obviously be an anathema to liberals, making him a sure fire loser in a General Election.
Another four candidates who could throw their hat into the ring are current Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, current Ohio governor John Kasich, current New Mexico governor Susanna Martinez and former Texas governor Rick Perry. While Jindal and Perry have absolutely no chance of getting the nomination, Kaisch and Martinez are moderate enough to be able to do quite well in a General Election. The problem is that they are almost completely unknown and will have to boost their profile considerably in the coming months to be competitive – if they decide to run that is.
The Democratic Party
The Democratic Party also has a considerable range of candidates who may run for the nomination. First on the list is Hilary Clinton, the losing candidate in 2008 followed by current Vice President Joe Biden who might run, although his age is probably an issue. Other potential candidates include former DNC Head Howard Dean, current Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, and current Independent Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders and Montana governor Brian Schweitzer.
Joe Biden is 72 years old and a run for the Presidency will undoubtedly be a pretty tough slog since he will be 74 in 2016. He is a popular former Senator from Delaware and has raised the status of the Vice Presidency considerably since his occupation of the post in 2009. He is seen as a bit of a maverick on social issues and foreign policy, although he has vast experience in the latter area, having been a long term member of the Foreign Relations Committee in the Senate. He is well known nationally but his failed Presidential bids in 1988 and 2008 may have an effect on his chances for the nomination.
Hilary Rodham Clinton is the clear frontrunner for the 2016 Democratic Party Presidential nomination. Although she lost in 2008 with Barack Obama surprisingly beating her, she had a much publicised tenure as Secretary of State that increased her visibility. Health problems have recently seen her take a step back and she has resigned her Secretary of State position in 2013 to be replaced by John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic Party nominee. Clinton retains a powerful and substantial power base in the Democratic Party and should theoretically sail to the party’s nomination although this was also said of her in 2008, and she ended up losing heavily to Obama. Clinton’s past work as First Lady could also come back to haunt her although her testimony at her husband, President Bill Clinton’s impeachment won her several fans among the Democratic Party faithful. Clinton has also worked substantially for women abroad, focusing on empowerment and liberation amongst other issues.
Howard Dean is also being mentioned as a candidate for the Democratic Party nomination. He was governor of Vermont from 1991 to 2003 and was also Chairman of the Democratic National Committee between 2005 and 2009 after entering the race for the Democratic Party nomination in 2004. He has substantial experience in grassroots engagement and was one of the driving figures behind the Democratic Party Congressional elections victories in 2006 and the Presidential Election victories in 2008 and 2012. Although he has been outside politics for quite some time, his organizational skills will definitely come into play in the 2016 Presidential Election cycle.
Another potential candidate who could be a dark horse for the Presidential nomination is Martin Joseph O’Malley, the current Governor of Maryland. O’Malley brings substantial experience to a potential ticket since he was Mayor of Baltimore from 1999 to 2007 and was also on the Baltimore City Council from 1991 to 1999. O’Malley has been very successful as Governor of Maryland with violent crimes having gone down by at least 40 per cent during his tenure. Some controversial positions include the introduction of same sex marriage in the state by means of a referendum – this could hurt his nationwide chances among traditionalist voters although it does appeal to the traditional leftist Democratic Party base.
Although classified as an independent, Bernie Sanders is considered to be a Democrat for voting purposes during his long career in the Senate. Sanders considers himself as a socialist democrat and has mirrored his politics on Scandinavian style democratic policies. He has expressed his desire to run for the Presidency although his age may be a factor – he will be 75 in the 2016 election, even older than Joe Biden. His maverick and independent streaks may be popular in Vermont but have little appeal on a national scale.
Brian Schweitzer is another governor who could well be on the Democratic ticket in November 2016. He was an extremely popular governor in the state of Montana from 2005 to 2013, a democrat in a very Republican state. His experience as chair of the Western Governors Association and the Democratic Governors association should also serve him in good stead on a national level although he is slightly isolationist on certain issues.
Another potential candidate for the Democratic Party is the former senator from Indiana, Evan Bayh III. He was a senator from 1999 to 2011 but cut his teeth in an executive position having served as Secretary of State for Indiana from 1986 to 1989 and as Governor of the state from 1989 to 1997. Bayh has not been active politically since leaving the Senate in 2011 apart from his position as a pundit on Fox News so his national recognition is not that wide. He is also to the right of the Democratic Party on issues such as gun control and abortion, although this could help him on a national level.
Other potential candidates who could be running for the Democratic Party nomination are Michael Bloomberg, the former Republican mayor of New York, Sherrod Brown, Ohio’s junior senator, Andrew Cuomo, current governor of New York and Steve Bullock, Montana’s governor since 2013. All these candidates bring executive experience to the table although some of them are quite inexperienced on national issues. Cuomo is currently embroiled in a number of scandals of his own while Bloomberg is very much the darling of Wall Street and is identified with the financial lobby.
The issues that will be present in the 2016 General Election are diverse but health and the fiscal deficit will definitely be amongst the top concerns. The Republicans will undoubtedly flog the health issue for all that this is worth whilst the Democrats will focus on their achievements in bringing the country out of the recession. The most probable matchup at this point will be Hilary Clinton for the Democratic Party against Chris Christie of New Jersey, barring the scandal that could severely damage his national reputation. Both are perceived as being moderates although Christie has tacked to the right of late in the hope of appeasing the Tea Party faction inside his party. Current poll trends are suggesting a hypothetical matchup between both parties although the Democratic Party has a slight edge since the former swing states of New Mexico and Nevada have now swung quite heavily into the Democratic column. The Republicans will hope that they can swing Florida into their column but this will mean that they have to nominate someone like Cruz or Marco Rubio who will not go down well with the leftist faction of the electorate.
The campaign will probably be influenced by Obama’s policies on healthcare and the economy with the international scene playing a small part. The rise of Russia as an aggressive territory grabber may also have a part to play in the campaign with a hawkish candidate proving to be popular amongst the electorate.
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