2016 Presidential Projections

***Projections are based on who we deem most likely to win, not necessarily the best candidate.

GOP Projections - Matthew Anselmo

Democrat Projections - Aaron

Jeb Bush1. Jeb Bush: Jeb's name has been on the top of our projections since the original post, and his entering the race only seals our assumptions.  Time is a valuable commodity and the right’s disgust for President Obama has reversed the negativity felt for the previous Bush administration. Jeb is a popular governor in perhaps the most critical swing state (unlike Democrats, Republicans have to win almost every swing state to take back the White House).  With approval rates in the high 50’s, he could be seen as the unifying candidate to bring together the Tea Party and the Republican Old Guard.  Jeb’s popularity with moderate voters is second only to Christie.

2. Rand Paul: The current Kentucky Senator is the face of the mainstream Libertarian and Tea Party movements.  Although Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee might be more entrenched is the deep base of the party, Rand resonated with a wider audience and is not perceived as polarizing.  Paul will position himself as the most electable conservative candidate and his communication style will endear him to voters across the party. He will also benefit heavily if Chris Christie jumps in the race with Jeb Bush, splitting votes of a similar demographic.

3. Chris Christie: Until Bridgegate, Christie was the unequivocal number one as he is positioned as a moderate that can transcend party lines.  Although not loved by the base, he would be tolerated being the likely candidate to win against Hillary Clinton. Still sore from the 2012 loss, many conservatives blame drawing national attention around Hurricane Sandy as a contributing factor to Romney’s loss given the media distraction.  Lucky for Christie, politics are driven by short term memory which will overcome his current bridge troubles if he can quickly bottle up the scandal.

Christie will not win the Iowa straw poll, or the first couple of primaries, but as the front runner fad fades and polling panic ensues he might be the last candidate standing. What might be interesting, if he does win the nomination, he might not even carry his home state in the general election

4. Ted Cruz: The biggest winner of the government shutdown was Ted Cruz.  His status among the Tea Party and Republican base has never been higher.  If the Iowa caucuses were to take place today, he would be the odds-on favorite.  However, the question being asked by pundits – is this sustainable?  Ted Cruz might have peaked too early and time will tell if his Senate antics will become a liability.  Many Democrats would love to see a Clinton-Cruz match up in the general election and the Birthers will become hypocritically quiet if the Canadian-born candidate rises to the top.

5. Paul Ryan: At this point Paul Ryan seems to be the most disinterested GOP candidate in the field.  Ryan has already admitted he will not challenge Eric Cantor for Speaker, and its impossible to say if that motivation is being driven by a disenchantment with the party or his vision for 2016.  Ryan could position himself as the candidate with the fiscal understanding to correct our country’s current budgetary situation, but that could also be problematic given how fast the current deficit is falling.  Also consider – the bi-partisan agreement with Patty Murray on the current budget might leave some of the base feeling betrayed.  Its hard to know how many more of these types of compromises will be worked before 2016.

6. Bobby Jindal: Jindel was the budding star of the Republican Party until a disastrous State of the Union rebuttal dropped him down the ranks. An outspoken conservative Jindal opposes abortion, same-sex marriage and flag burning while supporting gun rights, a border fence and publicly teaching evolution which will play nicely with the base.  Jindal is very popular in his home state, and will help the Republican Party attract minority voters.

7. Mike Huckabee: Governor Huckabee is the Tea-Party-red-meat candidate that will most likely win the Iowa Straw Poll and play well through the initial stops on the primary schedule.  An experienced campaigner, he is making the outlandish statements that drives the base out in droves (example: recently Huckabee belittled women who want health insurance coverage for contraception as being unable to “control their libidos”). Huckabee’s likability is the highest among the potential candidates across the party, and he is positioned nicely as a Washington outsider from a conservative state.  Of all the candidates, Huckabee is exactly the type of politician the Democrats want to face.  He will have trouble winning swing states, will polarize moderates, and his time spent on Fox News will brand him as an extreme partisan.

8. Scott Walker: A career politician, Walker was elected for Governor in 2010 and then again as part of a recall election. Walker has proven himself very polarizing in the state, yet also demonstrated his role as savvy politician.  Even more compelling than Walker’s politics, is the thought of Wisconsin following him through the general election which would be a huge prize for Republicans. Time will tell if 2016 is even in the cards, as Walker will face a heated Governors race in 2014.

9. Marco Rubio: Once a prize of the Republican Party, Rubio’s work on the bi-partisan immigration bill has damaged him within the base.  With the House openly talking about passing some stripped down version of the Senate Bill, the wounds of his vote will continue to be filled with salt by other candidates. Rubio has made a point to lay low, specifically during the shut down period which Ted Cruz leveraged for national recognition.  In the end Rubio will continue to fall out of favor with the Party as he will make the determination that trading his vision for the candidacy isn't worth the fight.  Rubio is also second to Jeb Bush across Florida Republican voters when polled about the 2016 presidential field.

Dark Horses:

Mike Pence: Indiana Governor. Outside the beltway politician who is sharp and well liked by his home state conservative base.

John Kasich: Ohio Governor. Has a tough race for re-election coming up – if he wins that he could enter the race for the nomination in 2016.  He also has spent time in Congress as the head of the House Budget Committee.

































Hillary Clinton1. Hillary Clinton: Mrs. Clinton is the obvious Democratic front-runner, should she choose to run in 2016. Her resume includes a wealth of experience as First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State. In early polling, Clinton holds a strong lead over any other potential Democratic contender. The Clinton political machine is well-tested and well-oiled and poised for a strong showing in 2016, complete with fund-raisers, allies, grass roots supporters, and surrogate spokespeople. That said, Mrs. Clinton held the front-runner status in 2008, only to be shown up by a newcomer to national-level Democratic politics. Despite losing the 2008 Democratic primary to then-Senator Barack Obama - by only a razor-thin margin, Hillary Clinton is even more popular today than she was back then. Mrs. Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State helped add to her stature as an American Stateswoman while at the same time insulating her from some of the most contentious political controversies of the Obama era- including the battles over Affordable Care Act, budget deficit and debt ceiling. Given what many Democratic observers saw as President Obama’s incredible naiveté in dealing with an inexorably hostile and uncompromising Republican opposition during his first term, Hillary Clinton and her husband went toe-to-toe with intransigent Republicans in the 1990s and usually won. Nothing causes Republicans to tremble more than the name Hillary Clinton when it comes to the 2016 election.

2. Elizabeth Warren: Senator Elizabeth Warren is a progressive superstar who has a tremendous fund-raising ability that would help her with a potential 2016 candidacy. While she has shown no indication so far that she’s considering a 2016 run, she would have a huge Democratic base of support should she change her mind. Senator Warren’s outspoken record on populist causes like wealth inequality, tough and rigorous Wall Street reform, as well as her solid defense of popular entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security have only made her more popular. This former Harvard professor, who specialized in bankruptcy law, is an incredibly bright policy wonk who does not shy away from any debate. Her work and advocacy in consumer protection helped lead the establishment of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Since becoming a senator, she has taken on the Obama Administration for its lackadaisical approach to holding accountable the big banks whose dishonest and unethical conduct helped lead to the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent Great Recession. Despite her popularity, Senator Warren is a newcomer to Washington politics and, beyond her academic and short Senate career, she has little other political or leadership experience to run on.

3. Martin O’Malley: This Maryland Governor and chairman of Democratic Governors Association has been making inroads with Democratic activists in Iowa and New Hampshire for what most observers see as a likely O’Malley bid in 2016. Governor O’Malley’s support for liberal causes, evidenced by his signature on a state gay marriage law and a Maryland version of the DREAM immigration act will help strengthen his appeal with many Democratic primary voters. Governor O’Malley has a significant amount of executive experience, including two terms as governor, eight years as mayor of Baltimore - where he presided over a dramatic decrease in violent crime, and another eight years as a Baltimore City Councilor. Governor O’Malley also had success in reforming and improving Maryland education and fighting some of the nation’s worst traffic by completing a highway connecting two of Maryland’s most populated counties. Nonetheless, Governor O’Malley hails from one of the most liberal states in the country and may have trouble finding support from the more moderate Democratic voters in places like Iowa and New Hampshire. The defeat of his Lieutenant Governor, Anthony Brown, in the 2014 gubernatorial election could also be construed as a rebuke of O'Malley in a traditionally deep blue state.

4. Jim Webb: Jim Webb is a decorated Vietnam veteran who has an impressive resume, which includes U.S. Senator from Virginia, Secretary of the Navy (under President Reagan), and Assistant Secretary of Defense. Webb has an established record as a moderate politician who has spurned the Democratic Party line on affirmative action and immigration. Meanwhile, at the height of the Iraq war, he earned the ire of the right by attacking their failed Iraq policies. His skepticism of free trade agreements and outspoken concern about income inequality has helped endear him to white working class voters, a demographic whose importance to the Democratic Party has waned under President Obama. Overall, however, Webb seems out of step with the Democratic base on too many issues and is thus likely a long-shot candidate.

5. Julian Castro: Castro, a Latino, served as the mayor of San Antonio, Texas for three terms until he was appointed as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development by President Obama in 2014, possibly a calculated move by President Obama to help groom Castro for future office. Castro delivered a rousing keynote address at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, which helped propel his standing among Democrats. At 40 as of September 2014, Castro is extremely young, and would be the one of the youngest candidates for the Oval Office in our nation’s history. His young age may make him a better vice presidential candidate than a party standard-bearer for 2016. Nonetheless, his appeal, executive experience and star power should not be discounted, especially among the burgeoning Hispanic voting demographic.

6. Joe Biden: Vice President Joe Biden has given several hints over the past few months that he is considering another presidential run. As Vice President and a former Senator, he brings decades of experience in leadership and politics. Joe Biden has always had significant appeal to white working class voters, which could help his bid. However, that voting block is shrinking as the country experiences seismic demographic shifts. Also, Mr. Biden will be nearly 74 in the November 2016 election, which, would make him the oldest person elected President if he were to win. President Ronald Reagan was 69 when he won the 1980 election. Mr. Biden’s chances in the 2016 primaries and general election are intimately linked with the success (or failures) of the Obama administration and the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). If the economic recovery gathers more steam and the implementation of ACA improves, Biden’s chances in 2016 will be that much better. However, today, Biden polls far behind Mrs. Clinton. Overall, the gaffe-prone Vice President is not a figure that elicits much excitement among Democratic primary voters. His candidacy would probably be a long-shot.

7. Bernie Sanders: Bernie Sanders is an independent Senator from Vermont. A self-described socialist, Sanders can aptly be considered the liberal lion of the U.S. Senate. Sanders has been an outspoken populist and has attacked the Obama Administration as being too cozy with Wall Street. He is highly popular with the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, including individuals associated with the Occupy Wall Street movement. Sanders has focused on the increasing income and wealth disparity between rich and poor and on corporate corruption. While Sanders chances of winning the Democratic Primaries are certainly a long-shot, he poses a significant ideological challenge from the left to presumed frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

8. Brian Schweitzer: This popular former two-term governor of Montana has made it no secret that he is considering a run in 2016. In a time when most of the country is disgusted with Washington politics and politicians, 2016 may be a great year for an outsider with little or no prior experience in D.C. politics, such as a governor of a western state. Schweitzer has a solid record as a moderate Democrat, working with a Republican-controlled legislature to get things done. That kind of experience may be attractive if the Republicans manage to hold onto the House in 2014, which is quite likely. Also, the fact that former Governor Schweitzer hails from a red state like Montana may give him general electoral appeal over East Coast liberals like Vice President Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton. Nonetheless, Schweitzer’s record on issues like guns and coal, which lean somewhat to the right, may cause some difficulty in the Democratic primaries. 

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  • Doug Ward
    commented 2015-02-24 23:02:43 -0800
    I have no idea why anyone would vote for either. If we want change electing career politicians is not the way to do it. If either wins we all lose.

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