Election 2016: The Shape of the Field… So Far
With Hillary Clinton’s announcement yesterday and Marco Rubio’s announcement today, that makes four candidates who have officially declared they will be running for President in 2016. I want to offer my thoughts about these candidates, their chances of winning and how I think their candidacy will effect the overall race.
First up, Ted Cruz:
The first to announce his candidacy, I think Cruz is the wild card in the GOP race (that’s putting it mildly). Some have called him the most conservative candidate to ever run for President, and given some of his political views, that may well be true. Cruz is known as an aggressive campaigner, and that aspect of his candidacy could be akin to throwing a molotov cocktail into the race. In my estimation, Cruz is too far to the right in some of his beliefs to really stand a chance in this race. He will spark a lot of passion from steadfast conservatives and his presence will likely force his fellow candidates to pivot more to the right, but he will be too divisive to even win over his own party, let alone in a general election.
Next up, Rand Paul:
Among the candidates both tangible and speculative at this point, I think Paul would be my personal bet to win the Republican nomination as of right now. That bet says a lot more about the chaotic nature of that particular race than it does of my steadfast confidence in Paul as a candidate. What Paul has going for him, and what could serve him very well in a general election, is that his libertarian philosophies could be appealing to independent voters. He is also the son of Ron Paul, a popular candidate, especially amongst younger voters, in 2012. Rand offers a similar alternative to the more staunch conservatives and I think this quality may be singular for him not just among his party, but to candidates of either party. What he has going against him and what he will have to overcome in the primary is that he’s not as much of a pure conservative as his fellow candidates.
Now, on to Marco Rubio:
If it were up to me to pick the GOP nominee for 2016, Rubio would probably be my choice. I’m far too much of a progressive to find a conservative like Rubio completely agreeable, but he is one of the more moderate members of his party and he has been a strong proponent of immigration reform. Rubio also has the advantage of being latino (though this is also true of Cruz), which could help him appeal to a voter base that rarely votes Republican and has supported Hillary Clinton in the past. I fear Rubio is too moderate to win over his own party, but I think his moderate appeal makes him a strong candidate for a running mate bid.
And, Last But Not Least, Hillary Clinton:
This announcement was an inevitability and therefore it doesn’t really change the landscape of the 2016 election at all. Even though Clinton similarly came into the 2008 election as a favorite, it’s hard to imagine lightning striking twice and an outside candidate like Barack Obama taking this nomination away from her. Because she is a perceived shoe-in to win the Democratic nomination, versus the chaotic race emerging in the GOP, it will be interesting to see how Clinton maintains momentum and attention throughout the election. There’s no doubt some people within her own party would prefer someone more liberal like Elizabeth Warren, so she will certainly be held under scrutiny even during phase one. Regardless, until a new narrative in the race emerges, I believe Clinton is as strong a frontrunner as there ever has been and will land at least the Democratic nomination.