There is a certain grumbling going on about the large
number of Republicans who are seeking the 2016
presidential nomination. As a contrarian, I happen to
think more candidates is a good thing.
In the current cycle, there is a notable dearth of serious
candidates on the Democratic side, primarily because Hillary
Clinton was such a formidable frontrunner until recently.
This circumstance might well change if it becomes clear
over the summer and autumn that Mrs. Clinton would be a
weak and flawed nominee.
On the Republican side, there is already a large number of
announced “serious” candidates for president, and more are
coming into the race over the next few months. Of course,
there are two kinds of “serious” candidates. The first kind
are those who have held the office of senator, congressman
or governor --- or those who have been prominent national
figures in business, communications or entertainment. These
wannabes have either the credential or name recognition to
be categorized as “serious” even if they have no real chance to
be nominated and elected. The second kind of “serious”
candidate has not only the credentials and/or name recognition,
but also the resources, campaign organization and personality
to compete successfully in the debates and primary/caucus
As of now, the Republicans have a number of announced and
unannounced contenders for their party nomination in the
latter category, including Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker,
Florida Senator Marco Rubio, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush,
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Ohio Governor John Kasich
and, perhaps, former executive Carly Fiorina. Barring some
unforeseen political shock, one of these persons is going to be
the GOP nominee in 2016. In the former category (serious but
no chance to win) there are a growing number of announced and
unannounced hopefuls including former Arkansas Governor
Mike Huckabee, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum,
South Carolina Lindsay Graham, Louisiana Governor Bobby
Jindal, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, Texas Senator Ted Cruz,
former Texas Governor Rick Perry, businessman Donald Trump,
physician Ben Carson, and former New York Governor George
Pataki. Each of these persons is well-known and/or has genuine
credentials, and/or has a small base of voters in the Republican
Party. But almost surely none of them is going to be the 2016
GOP nominee (although one of them might be the vice presidential
The persons I have cited might not have a genuine chance to be
nominated in Cleveland next July, but I suggest that most have
something to contribute to the the conservative conversation
that is now beginning (and will continue up to November, 2016).
Furthermore, the large number of “respectable” contenders
is a healthy and positive sign for the party. Their large number
means that not all of them will be included in the first tier
debates. Most of them drop out of the race early. Some of them
even have no intention to win, but hold some other motivation.
(The caveat to all this is that none of these serious-but-can’t-win
figures become obvious liabilities to their party and its ticket in
The point is that now is the time for the major parties to debate
and air their differences, and let the party voters decide whom
they want to represent them in the presidential election.
The Democratic ticket could win the presidential election
despite the historical odds against it, but the party’s chances,
and its ticket’s chances, are not increased by a dull primary
season featuring uninspiring candidates. The liberal party, too,
needs a number of first-rate contenders; otherwise their ticket
likely will put a lot of potential supporting voters to sleep on
Election Day. A low-turnout Election Day in 2016 seems to be
clearly to the Republicans’ advantage.
The presidential election is a free market. If the product isn’t
interesting, there will likely be no sale.
Copyright (c) 2015 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.