Monday, June 29, 2015

Handicapping the 2016 Presidential Election 16 Months in Advance

This Presidential Election is rare. Both the Democratic and Republican nominations are wide open. History tells us that one or both of today’s favorites will not win the nomination. The odds are that it will not be Bush-Clinton in 2016. Second, the 2010 and 2014 midterm elections wiped out the Democratic bench. Thus, the Democrats don’t have new faces to offer the American public while the Republicans have a plethora of candidates. Today’s favorites are Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side and ??? for Republicans Hillary has money, organization, and name recognition. Peggy Noonan, the Wall Street Journal columnist, believes she is inevitable. The Democratic establishment wants her. Hillary had money, organization and the name recognition 8 years ago. She was out-organized in Iowa by the former community organizer, Senator Barack Obama. The country took a look at the Senator and the rest is history. Hillary’s support is a mile wide and an inch deep. She runs the risk of falling victim to the ABC Syndrome, “Anyone but Clinton.” The most likely Eugene McCarthy or George McGovern of this election cycle is nominally Independent Senator Bernard Sanders of Vermont, who is everything Secretary Clinton is not – authentic. The Senator is exiting crowds. He is a true progressive, unlike the faux progressive of the Secretary, whose views vary with the wind. The two questions for Secretary Clinton are “Can she make it through 16 months without another scandal or verbal faux pas?” and “Will Bill not hog the scene and suck the oxygen out of the air for 16 months?” Polls show her image to be as one of untrustworthy as she channels her inner Brian Williams. Remember she once survived an attack. She also dodged, so far, Benghazi, State Department emails and the Clinton Family Foundation. Drip, drip, drip! She is also lacking on the stump. Also contending in the Democratic primaries are former Governors Martin O’Malley and Lincoln Chaffee. Governor O’Malley was Mayor of Baltimore and Governor of Maryland – e’nuff said, except the speculation is that he’s really angling for the Vice Presidential spot on the Democratic ticket or a cabinet position. Lincoln Chaffee, the former Republican, Independent, Senator and Governor of Rhode Island, seized upon his extensive experience to announce a bold plan; the United States should go metric. Vice President Biden is coolly waiting in the wings if the Democratic nomination process blows open. He looks so cool in sunglasses. Jim Webb, former Secretary of the Navy, Senator from Virginia, and past Republican is also deliberating entering the race. He’s for the forgotten common man. The Republican race is more exciting. The three presumed frontrunners are Governor Jeb Bush, Governor Scott walker, and Senator Marco Rubio. A favorite of the base is Dr. Ben Carson. The African American surgeon is the “common man” of the race. His problems are two-fold. First, that as a non-politician he has not yet learnt how to mince words. Second, he lacks an organization. He must rely upon grass roots efforts. Governor Mike Huckabee and Senator Rick Santorum will split the religious vote, The Governor will claim the Evangelicals, especially important in Iowa where he won the 208 Iowa Caucus, and the Senator Catholics. The Governor is a deeply conservative Christian. He has supported tax increases in the past. Senator Santorum got a bad deal four years ago. The final tally showed him winning the Iowa caucuses by 34 votes, but Governor Romney was reported the winner and received the momentum. Senator Rand Paul has the conservatism of his dad, Congressman Ron Paul, without the extremism. However, his views on national security are far outside the Republican mainstream. ISIS will sink his campaign. Governor Rick Perry is looking for a redo (Hillary would call it a “reset”) from 4 years ago. He had a poor introduction to the American public, apparently from an illness or medication, and dropped out. He deserved better. The question is if his first impressions will stick. Donald Trump jumped into the race, having flirted in past elections with the voters. He is a publicity maven. Who knows if he is serious? Carly Fiorina is basing her campaign on attacking Hillary Clinton whereas the other candidates are criticizing President Obama, who will not be on the ballot. Her polling has not budged, but she’s right about Clinton. Senator Ted Cruz is an outspoken lone wolf without an organization. Governor Jindal of Louisiana will be an impressive candidate, but it’s an open question if he can get traction. Senator Lindsay Graham is a national defense hawk. The retired Air Force Colonel is a close ally of Senator John McCain, the 2008 nominee. That, and his squishy record on illegal immigration and social issues have not endeared him to party regulars. Governor Chris Christy of New Jersey is expected to declare next week. He was an early frontrunner. His embrace of President Obama after Hurricane Sandy during the 2012 election created a little backlash, but Bridgegate by his aides stalling traffic on the George Washington Bridge as an act of political retribution has become the bridge too far in his campaign. Stalling traffic for three days is not a winning campaign strategy. Governor George Pataki of New York has thrown his hat into the ring. He was the last Republican Governor of New York, but his tenure ended in 2006. A decade out of the limelight is an eternity in politics. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the last New York Governor elected President, and that was in 1932, Thomas E. Dewey failed in 1948 while W. Averell Harriman and Nelson Rockefeller couldn’t win their party nominations. Waiting in the wings is Governor John Kasich of Ohio. A steady conservative, he would be the ideal ticket balancing as Vice President since Ohio has been the constant critical swing state in recent elections. His problem is that he accepted the ObamaCare Medicaid extension in Ohio to the dismay of conservatives. Governor Jeb Bush is more poised and articulate than his brother, President George W. Bush. He is married to a Latina and speaks Spanish fluently. He clearly has access to the Bush network and fundraising. He is the establishment candidate. His plan is to have the resources to be the last man standing in the Republican primaries, and thus win the nomination through perseverance. However, he got off to a slow start and his support of Amnesty, the Core Curriculum, and social issues make him a better candidate in the November general election than in the Republican primaries. Governor Scott Walker of the historically Progressive State of Wisconsin has not yet formally declared, but he’s in. He won three elections, including a recall election, in five years in Wisconsin, crippled the public employee unions, and converted Wisconsin into a right to work state. Republicans love him, as he is well tested by fire. My prediction, which is historically unreliable, is Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. Why? He is articulate, intelligent, thoughtful, clearly Hispanic, conservative, a skillful politician with a compelling up from his bootstraps story. He is though, like Governor Bush and Senator Graham, suspect to some Republicans on immigration. But that’s not the major reason. The Eastern establishment fears him as the Republican nominee. They believe he has the best chance of winning the general election. We know that because the New York Times wrote two mediocre hit pieces on him few weeks ago. The Times questioned his economics status. He has a mortgage and had student loans. The Times has never found anything wrong with the sweetheart deal Senator Obama received on his house in Chicago by Tony Rezko, a since convicted felon. They questioned his “luxury” boat, which turns out to be a fishing boat. Yet, they were silent on Senator John Kerry’s $7 million, 76’ yacht Isabel built inNew Zealand and moored in Rhode Island to avoid paying $500,000 in Massachusetts taxes. The Times criticized Senator Rubio and his wife fore having speeding tickets in 18 years between them. 13 were by his wife. The Times’ tip came from he Clinton people. Hillary Clinton has no speeding tickers because she claims not to have driven a car in two decades. Even liberals lambasted The Times for shoddy reporting. Hence, if the Times is trying to take him out 16 months in advance, then he is the favorite. But, then again the question is who will emerge from the Iowa scrum?

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