Here is my handicapping on the 2016 candidates.

Since it seems every pundit in America is already handicapping the presidential race, I thought I would join in.

The Democrats only have two possible candidates, Hillary Clinton or anybody but Hillary Clinton.  I call that nomination a tossup.  Yep!  I am not convinced that Lady Hillary has a lock on the nomination.  She has more baggage than Samsonite.

Senator Bernie Sanders, the only avowed socialist in Congress, may run as an independent.  Since he caucuses with the Democrats (for obvious reasons), he would take votes from the donkey party nominee.  Like all third column candidates, he can only serve as a spoiler.  Same is true of any Green Party and Libertarian Party candidates. These folks only run to advance unpopular policies or out of sheer ego.

I think the GOP will have the presidency in 2016 UNLESS they totally screw it up.  However, looking back at 2008 and 2012, that possibility has to be considered.  Senator McCain was not right for the presidency and he ran a bad campaign.  Mitt Romney would have made a pretty good President, but ran one of the worst and most tone-deaf campaigns I can recall.  That is why he is out of contention.  Hopefully, the same Republican apparatchiks  that gave us Cain and Romney will not be coaching the game in 2016.

Right now there is a huge bench for the Republican Party – some count as many as 26.  Of course, most of those will not be in serious contention.  I tend to like them all, but that does not mean they all have a shot at the presidency.  Let’s be real.  Here they are in alphabetically order and my handicapping.  At this stage, the highest rating is 50/50.

Jeb Bush:  40/60.  I have to be careful here because I now live in Florida.  Good record.  Good campaigner.  He needs to more artfully express his conservative bona fides.  There may also be a three-Bush curse.  I think he can come out with a sound immigration proposal, but he needs to have an epiphany on Common Core. Money. Money.  Money.

Ben Carson: 0. Great spokesperson for Republican Party.  Can impact on minority voters.  Outside chance for a Veep pick.  It is rare that a person comes to the Oval Office without holding a prior elective office.

Chris Christie: 20/80. He keeps losing ground.  His once attractive bluntness is wearing thin and does not look presidential – unless you’re looking at Howard Taft. (Sorry for that, but it was too obvious to pass up.)  He seems to pick up more and more baggage as he travels along.

Ted Cruz: 10/90.  He has the right positions for a right of center nation tired of the hard left, but he cannot seem to perfect the sales pitch.  May help with Hispanic vote. He is informative, but not inspirational.  He has a great personal narrative, but unable to put it across.  Senators are at a disadvantage.  Actually, his father is better on the stump than he is.

Mike Huckabee; 30/70.  He polls well in the early primaries, which makes him a sprinter rather than a long distance runner.  His record as governor is a bit old.  Perhaps it is my bias, but I think religious right issues will be less important in 2016, even among the religious right.

Bobby Jindal: 30/70.  He could be the dark horse (no pun intended).  He has a great record as governor and is another candidate that can get both conservatives and establishmentarians on board.  He would need some stellar debate performances and an early primary upset. He needs to overcome a money problem.   Would be on any vice presidential list.

Peter King: 0.  Why bother.  Not a bad guy, but just not presidential timbre.  If the voters are looking away from senators, what is the chance of a House member?  If I recall, we only elected one directly from the House in all of American history.

Lindsey Graham: 0.  The deck is stacked against senators.  Makes good points, but lacks charisma.  Good with the GOP base, but not able to reach enough voters.

George Pataki: 10-90.  He suffers from too many better candidates.  Not even high on the veep list.

Rand Paul: 0. Yes, 0. He is another great spokesperson for the GOP.  Great at framing issues.  The media loves him, but too often because he says outrageous things (think vaccinations).  Too controversial and carries some of the gadfly sins of his father.  I love to have him on the scene, but not in the oval office.  Senators have a higher bar this time around.  Also, his foreign policy reputation is lethal.

Rick Perry: 30/70.  His 2012 debate gaff hangs over him like a political grim reaper.  He would make a great president, but has to do a lot of image changing for the public.  He gets in play because of four things; large state, good record, border state (think immigration); access to money.

Robert Portman: 0.  I think the people who make up these lists do not consider the fact that the guy has no reason to run.

Marco Rubio; 20/80.  Here goes my Florida problem again.  I like Rubio a lot.  I think he is among the best platform speakers in the GOP.  I just do not think this is his time.  He would have a problem consolidating his Florida base with Jeb in the game.  He is also a senator when the voters are leaning to governors.  He should be on any veep list, however.  If I were him, I would get in, develop a national image and get out early – maybe after one or two debates.

Paul Ryan; 0.  He is not running, so why do they keep putting him on the list?  No chance for veep, either.  The voters are not interested in a re-run of even half the 2012 team.

Rick Santorum: 0.  Too far into the religious right.  Comes across as too whiney.  The only benefit to his candidacy is to keep his speaker fees up. Senators are not popular this time, and especially former senators.

John Thune: 0. Would be a great president, but does not yet have the gravitas to pull it off.  Also, senators are at a disadvantage for 2016.

Donald Trump; 0.  I am among those who believe he is primarily a showman.  He is perfect in the role of spokesperson for issues and policies.  I like that a lot.  But, I think a presidential bid would be more as a means of promoting his issues, his many enterprises and his personal brand.  Would he give up his media empire for a candidacy not likely to succeed?  Trump is the one person who could honestly see the presidency as a step down in terms of his brand.

Scott Walker; 50/50.  The last shall be first.  I give him the best shot because he has proven to be a phenomenally effective campaigner.  He is right on all the key issues.  He bridges the Tea Party and establishmentarians.  Great speaker.  Great record as governor.  Comes from an important state.  Can raise sufficient money.  So, what’s not to like?  There is still simmering that Democrat’s and union’s efforts to muddy him up on ethical issues.  Union leaders will be pimping their mothers to get enough money to beat him. Watch out for the public  sector unions.  I am a bit concerned about him moving into a frontrunner status (according to some polls) too early.  Early frontrunners do not do well.

So, there tis.

Disclaimer:  The above handicapping is subject to change at any time.

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