Sunday, May 3, 2015

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: It's More Unsettled Than You Think

The major party nominations for president in 2016 are far from
settled, probably more unsettled than most political observers
now think --- about 14 months before the Democratic and
Republican national conventions.

On the Republican side, the field is getting larger with some
potentially serious --- and unexpected --- entrants, including
California business executive Carly Fiorina and Ohio Governor
John Kasich. Conventional wisdom until now was that only
former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Governor Scott
Walker and Florida Senator Marco Rubio could win the
nomination. But early frontrunner Jeb Bush has failed to take a
commanding lead, surprise subsequent frontrunner Scott Walker’s
momentum has slowed, and Marco Rubio’s strong initial entry has
waned for the time being. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, an
earlier frontrunner, has fallen back in the wake of controversies,
although he remains a potentially formidable candidate once the
presidential debates begin. Other major figures could still enter
this race.

The good news for the GOP, in fact,  is that they have so many
aspirants with political talent and serious credentials for the

On the Democratic side, the once presumptive nominee, Hillary
Clinton, is having critical problems with her quest for her party’s
nomination. Most of these problems arise from the sobering fact
that she is a mediocre campaigner and communicator at best, and
that her long public exposure as first lady, U.S. senate and U.S.
secretary of state is laden with numerous controversies. The bad
news for the Democrats has been that, until now, there have been
few credible alternatives to Mrs Clinton. That could change soon,
perhaps even as early as this summer, if Massachusetts Senator
Elizabeth Warren, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo or
Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar enter the race.

Conventional wisdom about presidential races usually focuses on
fundraising prowess and high early poll numbers. But the staggering
new forms of social and broadcast media have changed the old and
limited forms of raising campaign funds and of obtaining name
recognition. Republican Scott Walker’s recent meteoric rise was an
example of this political change. A similar phenomenon could take
place if Democrat Amy Klobuchar, for example, announced for
president, or if Republican Carly Fiorina’s campaign catches on.

The 2016 cycle is one without an incumbent running for president.
The man who is now the incumbent, Barack Obama, has struggled
for popular support since his re-election in 2012, and like his
predecessor , George W. Bush, finishes his second term with
considerable voter “fatigue” for his performance. The U.S. has
become defensive and wary in its foreign policies, and faces huge
challenges to its preeminence in global economic power. Domestic
unrest has recently emerged again, and the economic recovery has
seemingly stalled as real unemployment remains high. All of this
uncertainty now leads to a national election in 2016.

I caution that it is still much too soon to predict the full dimensions
of the next presidential election. Although it still might be a race
between a Clinton and a Bush, there are increasing signs that the
ultimate “deciders” in this matter, i.e., the voters, might have
some other names on their minds.

Copyright (c) 2015 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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