Saturday, July 04, 2015

Race for the White House 2016 Volume 27

Happy Independence Day!

America's 239th birthday provides us with the opportunity to take a brief look at 22 major party Presidential candidates. Clearly, a lot of people think that this is a country worth leading.

Of course, the list of people that want to be President is probably in the hundreds, but not everyone can be counted, including former IRS Commissioner Mark Evenson and his quixotic GOP bid. Of all cycles to be an unknown GOP candidate who thinks one can offer serious ideas, this is not the right one. So, mark him down with the also-rans.

Also, former Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich and his fellow Republican and former Governor of a neighboring state, Jim Gilmore of Virginia, do not seem to be taking many active steps towards candidacies, so it appears unlikely they will join the crowded GOP field. They would have very little chance of getting into next month's debate season kickoff. Just this past week, New York Congressman Pete King formally took himself out of consideration. No U.S. House member will be seeking the White House this cycle.

Now, here are the 22 contenders, presented in alphabetical order:

Joe Biden- For months, he has not expected to enter the race, and he is really the only one that will be listed that might not run. However, talk has picked up that the Vice President will indeed enter the race late this summer. Apparently, it was a wish expressed that he run again by his son Beau, shortly before he died last month. That kind of thing may make it hard to say no to. If Democrats continue to fear the Bernie Sanders momentum relative to Hillary Clinton campaign concerns, Biden is going to get some additional looks.

Jeb Bush- He remains the candidate I am supporting, and since announcing his candidacy, he has had a bit of a mini-surge in the polls, although the field is just too large and potentially too fluid for there to be a true "frontrunner." Bush though will have a lot of campaign money to spend and while he will have a hard time winning over the most conservative Republican primary voters, the remaining moderates and "somewhat conservative" people could be fertile territory.

Ben Carson- One of two candidates who has never sought elective office before, and the only African-American in the field, Carson has not been too visible on the campaign trail, but his "outsider" status continues to have him poll higher than might otherwise be expected, or may last once the debates begin.

Lincoln Chafee- The Republican turned Democrat is still polling very low in the polls. It is hard to see where he has a natural constituency, especially with Bernie Sanders starting to gather so many headlines. If he gets into the debates with Hillary Clinton, he is likely to stress his past Senate vote against the Iraq War.

Chris Christie- The current New Jersey Governor announced his candidacy this past week in his home state and is promising a campaign of "Telling It Like It Is." That sort of niche angle may be his only real hope to break through, but polls are showing that Christie is very unpopular, even among Republicans. His tagline may be more likely to eventually be associated with a tv or radio show after his Governor job comes to an end.

Hillary Clinton- While she is still the far and away frontrunner for the Democrat nomination, and by virtue of name recognition, leads Republicans in most polls as well, people like me will continue to insist she has some very serious weaknesses and vulnerabilities as a candidate. The whole email scandal was once again in the news this week, and while non-junkies may not be paying much attention now, the narrative of Clinton being dishonest and untrustworthy persists. I do not believe her establishment backers anticipated the extent of the early surge for Sanders in terms of crowds, money, and polling. If the trend continues, things are going to get even more dicey for HRC.Will the calls become louder for Elizabeth Warren to jump in the race and take over the mantle from Bernie Sanders? If that happens, will the current frontunner be able to hold on?

Ted Cruz- He has his backers, but there does not seem to be much the Texas Senator can do to win new people over. In my view, there seems something very artificial and contrived about his posturings, although the same can be said about other candidates. Last week, Cruz alone seemed to stand up for Donald Trump amid the media firestorm surrounding the celebrity businessman.

Carly Fiorina- She also is polling higher than might be expected, probably because she has never held office and has appeal as an outsider. She will have potential to gain even more supporters with strong debate performances, but I think even she realizes she is not going to become the eventual Presidential nominee of Republicans.

Lindsey Graham- The Senator from South Carolina was one of the political leaders in his state who recently changed positions on the Confederate flag, and I think that demonstrates that he really is a man of character. His foreign policy credentials may be unparallelled in the Republican field, but he remains a long-shot. Will he still be a candidate by the time his state's primary voters to go the polls? My guess is that he drops out before.

Mike Huckabee- In 2008, the former Arkansas Governor tried to sell himself as a reasonable, cheerful conservative, but this time around, nobody seems to be running more to the right on social issues. He will need to have a very strong showing in Iowa, home to many of his fellow Evangelicals, in order to become a factor in the race after that.

Bobby Jindal- I also think he has pretty much devised a campaign narrative and persona that is not who he really is and does not speak to his strengths. He will work hard to try to get votes, but remains way back in the pack,and his unpopularity in his home state of Louisiana is definitely a hard point to try to rebut.

John Kasich- I believe the Ohio Governor has real potential as a candidate, but he will be getting into the race so late, that he may never be able to break though. He seems to be preparing to run just in case Jeb Bush stumbles down the road and he can present himself as the alternative.

Martin O'Malley- The former Maryland Governor probably did not expect that he would have to spend this portion of the Democrat primary race going after Bernie Sanders, in order to have him back in the position as the main rival to Hillary Clinton. Right now, O'Malley is struggling to gather much media attention.

George Pataki- The former New York Governor is perhaps the only social moderate in this year's GOP primary field. He is way back in the polls and has decided that coming out strongly against Donald Trump, whom he probably knows well from the Empire State, and urging other Republican candidates to do the same is the only way to gather any attention.

Rand Paul- Months ago, I would have expected that the Kentucky Senator would be more of a factor in this race than he is. Certainly, he has his base within the party, but I do not think Paul is anybody else's 14th choice even, among those whom he does not already have. In spite of all this, and perhaps because of the crossover appeal he has to some liberals on some issues, he often runs as strong in general election matchups against Hillary Clinton than any other GOP candidate.

Rick Perry- By virtue of his experience as Governor of Texas, he ought to be a bigger presence in the race than he currently is, but along with many others, he is struggling to break through. That is in stark contrast to four years ago, when his initial entrance into the race made him the "flavor of the week" and propelled him to to the top of national and state polls virtually overnight. Now, he is urging political watchers to be patient with the polls.

Marco Rubio- After spending a few months basking in some campaign kickoff momentum, there is reason to believe that the Florida Senator might have now taken at least a couple steps backwards. The re-emergence of Jeb Bush might have more to do with that than anything else. Still, many expect Rubio to be one of the finalists early next year.

Bernie Sanders- Has anybody had a better week politically? The socialist Vermont Senator is drawing large crowds across the country and what I detect as true enthusiasm among the grassroots left as an alternative to Hillary Clinton. He really has the potential to damage her if he becomes more vocal in stressing differences.Would he be willing to step aside for Elizabeth Warren if she decides that his early success is a sign she would run? I think he would.

Rick Santorum- This is not 2012 anymore and the entire GOP field is far deeper and more substantial the last time around, and thus, Santorum is seemingly having a hard time getting much attention. Even people who eventually gravitated towards him in his last run may only look at him as their 5th or 6th choice.

Donald Trump- One could write pages just on him alone and his presence in the race. For one thing, is he ever going to really file the necessary financial disclosure forms to get on ballots? Next, am I really crazy to think that he is genuinely in cahoots with the Clintons in order to cause chaos in the GOP field in order to help Hillary? Right now though, Trump's name recognition and the media attention associated with his frequent and virulent comments about Mexican immigrants has him near the top of the GOP polls. What will happen in the debates? I think the other candidates will be jumping all over each other to attack Trump and to get in a good sound bite at his expense. Many of them will really have no other choice. This past week has seen Trump continue to generate the most attention  and also lose all sorts of business deals and affiliations. Did he foresee that coming? Does he even care? There is just something to me that is not adding up about a supposed Republican candidate taking the anti-immigration and anti-free trade stances that he is, but is still saying that Bill Clinton was our best President.

Scott Walker- He is one of the two candidates who has yet to formally begin a Presidential campaign, but the Wisconsin Governor clearly is running and has to at least be considered a small front-runner in his neighboring state of Iowa. He is still going to have to hope for both Bush and Rubio to fall a bit and for him to be in a position to pick up their support. His potential in this field remains strong, however, there are just so many candidates running, he is absolutely going to need to finish a solid first in Iowa in order to have momentum next February.

Jim Webb-  He announced his candidacy a couple days ago, but few people noticed. He remains way back in the Democrat pack, despite once being one of the darlings of the anti-war blogosphere crowd. In this race, he may push his appeal to working class white voters, particularly males, as a necessity for Democrats to be able to win a general election. It is hard to see him generating much support among labor unions though, and those working class white male voters in the Heartland are just not part of the Democrat coalition anymore.

So, there they all are. At least as of July 4, 2015. It is a crowded and complex field. There will continue to be many ups and downs along the Race for the White House, but as the cliche goes; may the best man win.... unless that turns out to be Carly Fiorina.


At 7:26 AM, Blogger Steve Boudreaux said...

Corey, Don't rule out Perry as a possible VP pick for the GOP: military experience in the USAF & longest-serving Governor of my home state of TX!


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