Monday, July 28, 2014

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Hurdles Behind, Hurdles Ahead

The 2016 presidential election is potentially so pivotal and so
critical to the nation that it is no longer premature, even
though the 2014 national mid-term elections have not yet
taken place, to begin to discuss it seriously.

Yes, the general election is more than two years away, and
all the political cliches that go with such a long duration might
apply, but no matter which party wins in 2016, we are going to
have a new president. (If the polls are right, this will be a relief
to a growing majority of voters, including some Democrats.)

In 2008, as in 1992, 1976 and 1960, the candidates who won the
presidency, all Democrats, were newcomers to the national
scene. In 1952, 1972, 1988 and 2004 the newcomers were also
Democrats, and they lost. In 2000, the newcomer who became
president was a Republican. In 1964, the GOP nominee, a
national newcomer, lost badly.

The Democratic contest for the nomination to succeed Barack
Obama seemed only recently a foregone conclusion. Hillary
Clinton’s inevitabilty is now not quite so inevitable , with 

Elizabeth Warren on the radical left and Brian Schweitzer on
the populist left beginning to emerge, along with more
traditional liberals Andrew Cuomo and Joe Biden whose poll
numbers are beginning to rise.

The Republican presidential field seems unusually ambiguous
now, and the most potentially serious candidates remain
visibly undecided about their 2016 plans. The seemingly
most electable, i.e. Chris Christie, Jeb Bush and Mitt
Romney are avoiding discussing their 2016 plans while each
of them gradually increases their public visibility. GOP cult
candidates Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Sarah Palin continue
to appeal to their ultraconservative or libertarian bases, but
seem to be failing to draw support so far from the Republican
center or mainstream.

A 2014 political commonplace discussion is about how an
unknown Barack Obama took away a virtually certain Hillary
Clinton nomination in 2008, and to speculate about who might
be the next “Obama” who could steal the political show in 2016.
Warren and Schweitzer could fit that characterization, but so
far neither of them shows any appeal outside his existing base.

Perhaps the most interesting recent 2016 development is the
political and public relations partial recovery of New Jersey
Governor Christie, initially the early GOP frontrunner before a
“scandal” over a bridge closing in New Jersey upset his public
image. Christie promptly and adroitly countered the allegations
against him, and barring some new information, seems to have
put the incident behind him. Democrats had been predicting
they would “take him out” early by portraying him as a “bully,”
but Christie has used his role as chair of the Republican
Governors Association to demonstrate he is still a charismatic
political star. (He has also lost a dramatic amount of weight
which has contributed to a less extreme previous public image
as the most prominent overweight elected official in the nation.)

Cliches about Jeb Bush’s family name, and its potential
hindrance to a 2016 presidential run, are fading as the popular
reputations of his father and brother are noticeably recovering,
and the reputation of the Obama presidency is declining.

A national poll has for the first time revealed that U.S. voters
would now prefer Mitt Romney over President Obama, and
regret their 2008 decision. Romney himself denies any interest
in 2016, although he ha been increasingly visible in recent

In addition to Cruz, Rand Paul and Palin, Wisconsin
Congressman Paul Ryan and Ohio Governor Kasich have
ardent devotees who would prefer them to be the GOP
nominee in 2016, and former Arkansas Governor Mike
Huckabee, now a national TV personality, appears strong
in recent polls.

A Romney candidacy in two years is unlikely if either or both
Chris Christie and Jeb Bush declare themselves in the race in

As matters stand now, the Republican field will be large
and noisy. Should Mrs. Clinton decide not to run, the
Democratic field would also likely be very numerous with
outspoken candidates from the far left as well as the liberal

The notable 2016 news as the nation heads into the
all-important national mid-term election this November is
the current revival of Chris Christie and new doubts about
a Hillary Clinton candidacy two years from now as the left
wing leaders of the party begins to express themselves more

But there will be many new developments and poll trends
ahead, even as the “fatigue” with the current occupant in
the White House grows.  The race for president is not a
100-yard dash, as it was in the 19th century, nor a mile-run,
as it became after World War II. In 2016, the presidential
contest will be a long race with many hurdles on the track.

Copyright (c) 2014 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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