The list of potential candidates for the presidency in 2016 is immense. The list of declared contenders, though, is nonexistent.
If the latest CBS News poll is any indication, Americans would like to see a number of potential candidates take the plunge -- but not all of them.
Now let’s look at these numbers for a moment.
Mitt Romney is well-regarded. So is Jeb Bush – though not so much as Romney. Mike Huckabee has a degree of support. But beyond that, only Marco Rubio, Scott Walker and Ben Carson have positive numbers with these GOP primary voters. The rest of the field is in negative numbers – though most of them have more undecided than anything else (Sarah Palin being the exception). We therefore have a top tier (Romney, Bush, and Huckabee), a middle tier (Rubio, Walker, and Carson), and a bottom tier of rejected wannabes that includes the bulk of Tea Party favorites.
From where I stand, here’s how I would break down these groupings.
- Romney – yes, he lost in 2012. But there is something powerful about a guy who can point out that virtually everything he said the last time around was proven to be correct and that he has the solutions for the errors of Obama.
- Bush – sorry, but that name is going to be poison, especially against Hillary. His father and brother may two of the three most decent men to occupy the Oval Office in the last half century, but his pro-amnesty, pro-Common Core positions will alienate key parts of the base.
- Huckabee – too many years of clips from Fox, too many positions that deviate from conservatism.
- Rubio – a young leader for a new generation of the party, and one who presents a non-white face for the GOP. Unfortunately, he has been wishy-washy on immigration.
- Walker – a fresh face from a purple-to-blue state who took on the liberal establishment and won three times in four years. The lack of a college degree can be overcome by showing his record of success.
- Carson – not qualified for the office, and unfortunately connected to medical fraudsters.
- Christie – blunt and abrasive work until they don’t. Besides, Bridgegate and liberal appointments have hurt. Plus, do we really want a candidate who has publicly hugged both Obama and Cowboy’s owner Jerry Jones?
- Cruz – not quite ready to be President. He would make a great candidate for VP, a great Attorney General, or (my preference) a great Supreme Court justice. Do we really want another president who has only 2/3 of a term in the Senate?
- Jindal – negative, but could turn things around if he finds himself a platform and can differentiate himself from the pack.
- Palin – When 90% of the primary voters have an opinion of the candidate and 2/3 of those opinions are negative, your candidacy is dead in the water.
- Paul – the crazy daddy in the attic turns too many folks off. Needs to offer something distinctive that differentiates himself from his father – and, more importantly, from his father’s supporters.
- Perry – an inept 2012 campaign doomed him.
- Santorum – as much as I would like a guy who went to the same high school as me to make it to the White House, Rick Santorum isn’t the guy. Has a short list of accomplishments and a host of liabilities.
This leads me to some important observations.
- If you look at the top tier, there is not a candidate who is part of the Tea Party portion of the GOP base. There are two in the second tier (Walker and Carson), but they are far behind. Until and unless that portion of the base unites behind one of candidate (ideally Walker, based upon these results), there is no chance of a Tea Party candidate getting the nomination.
- At the same time, no Republican nominee can win the presidency without capturing the Tea Party vote. Can one of the more establishment candidates excite that part of the base without alienating their current supporters? If so, the nomination is theirs – and so is the presidency. If not, prepare yourself for “President Hillary Clinton”.
- We in the GOP have a young bench. Look at the ages of the candidates outside of the top tier. Rubio and Jindal are 43. Cruz is 44. Walker is 47. Palin is 50. Paul and Christie are 52. Santorum is 56. Ben Carson is 63. Rick Perry is 64. If the Democrats win in 2016, only three of these candidates will have reached the age of 60 five years from now as the primaries and caucuses begin – and two of them are already there. Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, Rand Paul, and Chris Christie will all still be realistic candidates for the nomination then – and will quite likely have the benefit of more experience and stronger resumes than they do now. And of the candidates who will be under the age of 60, only Christie is not a part of the latter day conservative movement.
- And look at the Democrats – who do they have who will not appear to be a candidate from the Jurassic Period in 2016 and 2020?
Remember, my friends – from the rise of the conservative movement in the GOP in 1964 to its success in capturing the presidency in 1980 was 16 years. In 1976 we saw the triumph of the establishment, but it was followed by the glory of conservative ascendancy in 1980. So while we would like the future to be now, we have to recognize that even an establishment victory in 2016 does not mean that our movement has failed.
H/T Hot Air