The presidential election cycle seems to begin earlier and
earlier these days.
The White House residence was for rent to either party in 2016
as the then-incumbent was finishing his second and last term.
Think back to those innocent days of 2014 when organizing
and speculation had begun. On the Democratic side, the
contest seemed to be over almost before it began. Former
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seemed inevitable --- just as
she had been in 2006-08 until Barack Obama stepped onto the
political stage. In 2016, it was the unlikely socialist Senator
Bernie Sanders who interrupted the Clinton reverie,and if the
Democratic political establishment, in apparent collusion with
Mrs. Clinton's campaign, hadn’t been so heavy-handed, he
might have been nominated.
On the Republican side, there was a bevy of big-name hopefuls,
including still another Bush --- this time former Florida
Governor Jeb Bush, the early favorite --- and several not so dark
horses, including Florida Senator Marco Rubio, New Jersey
Governor Chris Christie, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Ohio
Governor John Kasich, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal,
and eleven other serious candidates. Rumors of a Donald
Trump candidacy were treated only as a publicity stunt.
Oh, those were the days in 2014! The world was in its old order
Now it is 2018. The man in the White House is doing quite a job
of disrupting that old order, and he has already declared he is
running for re-election. He might face some token opposition,
but his renomination is assured --- as it stands now. A few
anti-Trump Republicans are making noises of primary
challenges, or even independent candidacies, but this is only
On the Democratic side, however, it is game-on for more
candidates than I can count. Not formal declarations, of
course, but much activity in staffing, early fundraising, and
inevitably, positioning. If this keeps up, they will need a
vast stage just to hold the Democratic TV debates. I can see
it now --- each candidate gets 60 seconds to talk, and it takes
four hours just for opening remarks!
There are no frontrunners yet for the liberal nod, but a bunch
of septuagenarian figures, including Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden,
Elizabeth Warren, (and yes) Hillary Clinton again, are
prominently mentioned --- as are already a veritable slew of
younger and lesser known Democrats, including Missouri
Secretary of State Jason Kander, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of
of South Bend, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, New
Jersey Senator Cory Booker, former HUD Secretary Julian
Castro, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Montana Governor
Steve Bullock, California Senator Kamala Harris, and former
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. TV personality Oprah
Winfrey also might run. The list goes on and on.
Usually, presidential aspirants wait for the national mid-term
elections to get started, but many Democrats have already
concluded there will be a massive blue tide next November,
and that their nominee will win in 2020. So why wait?
I need not remind anyone reading this that incumbent
presidents are tough to beat, especially if the economy is
going well (which it is now). But there have been one-term
presidents before, especially when things are not going well.
2020 is more than two years away. Who knows what conditions
will then be?
I have specialized in the early presidential prediction business
for four decades. I suggested Richard Nixon might have to
resign before the 1972 election; I called attention to the
unknown Jimmy Carter in 1ate 1975; I wrote that Gary Hart
would be the surprise of 1984; then in 1985, I predicted the
emergence of Joe Biden; and I was early and resolute in saying
Bill Clinton would win the presidency in 1992. I predicted
Donald Trump could win an upset in 2016. All of this is on
the published record.
Those were the ones I got right. I also got a number of
predictions wrong, I did not predict that Ronald Reagan would
become president. In 1996, I did not think Bob Dole would be
nominated. I made no good prediction in 2000, and in 2012, I
thought Mitt Romney would win. In 2015, I did not take
Donald Trump seriously. The presidential predicting business
can be hazardous.
On the other hand, it is addictive. So in this, my first op ed on
the 2020 election, I will offer a few thoughts.
As is obvious, barring the unforeseen, there is little to say
about the GOP nomination.
I will stick my pundit neck out and say: No one over 65 years
old will be nominated in 2020 by the Democratic Party.
That’s it. That’s all I’m going to predict at this very early
state of the 2020 cycle. Call me a coward, but there are so
many younger liberal men and women of some caliber being
mentioned now that I know better than try to make any
political prophesies. I reserve the right, of course, to change
my mind about this at a later date --- and I likely will.
First, I want to get through the coming tumult of the 2018
mid-term elections and the faux physics of determining
whether there will be a blue wave or a red wave hitting the
electoral shore. That voting is less than 8 months away, and
we still have little idea how it will turn out.
But don’t worry, 2020 will not be dull.
Copyright (c) 2020 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.