The presidential elections in 2008 and 2012 were truly contrasts in styles for the Democrats and Republicans. Democrats opted for the young, charismatic and relative outsider to Washington politics while the Republicans nominated more establishment-style candidates. Yes, by 2008, John McCain had completed his metamorphosis from maverick to establishment. In 2012, the GOP tried to avoid an establishment candidate, but just couldn’t help themselves. While the Democrats naturally backed their incumbent president, Republicans piled onto the Mitt Romney train. And piled it into a tree.
Neither race was terribly close and, right on schedule, everyone is sick and tired of the two-term president and is already looking ahead to the next presidential election. Here’s where things are getting interesting.
If an election were held today, it would appear the parties have pulled a switcheroo on the country. Right this moment, “tea party” darling Rand Paul is looking like the odds-on favorite to win the GOP nomination. And who are the Democrats looking to? The establishment candidate (Hillary).
It’s way too soon to tell, but it’s clear both Paul and Clinton are rosining up their bows for a presidential race. What’s fascinating to me is Paul, the outsider, is starting to veer to the middle as fast as possible. He’s welching on his past statements that irked the GOP leadership while earning the admiration from conservatives who feel betrayed by their party.
On the other hand, you’ve got Hillary Clinton—a candidate with more inside track than Secretariat—throwing bombs at her former boss Obama while she’s out on her charade of a book and speaking tour.
The outsider is trying to be bland while the insider is trying to be iconoclastic. You’d think they were following polling data or something.
It’s a long way to 2016. I’m still waiting to see how many upstart Democrats and Republicans throw their hats into the ring and stir up trouble for the top contenders. Truth is, it’s a wide open race and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see both Paul and Clinton <i>not</i> win their party nominations.
I could easily see former Montana governor Brian Schweitzer or even Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren testing the Democratic waters. Schweitzer would be a great choice to nullify any NRA chatter out there. Warren is the favorite politician of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, but I’m not sure she’s ready for the national stage.
On the Republican side? Ohio governor John Kasich or former Florida governor Jeb Bush wouldn’t surprise me one bit. Kasich would make the most strategic sense. Bush might carry the same sort of baggage as Hillary: voter fatigue with their last names. I’ve heard some talk about Indiana Gov. Mike Pence running, which is laughable to me. There isn’t a bigger airhead, an emptier suit, a less imaginative prospect out there. Pence is a joke and would probably embarrass himself on the national stage.
I know what you’re thinking: where’s Chris Christie? He’ll test the waters, but his candidacy will stall and never make it out of Iowa. For better or worse, the George Washington Bridge scandal will hang around his neck like an albatross.
Nov. 8, 2016 is more than two years away. We’ll know more about a year from now who’s running. When that time comes, we’ll revisit my pre-pre-season predictions and see if I was right or wrong.