Some predictions for 2016

I’ve learned that more than a few people enjoy my political commentary on this blog. I’ve also discovered that writing about political figures (or, to be more precise, citing political figures as keywords in my posts) draws more traffic to the blog. So here are a few thoughts (and predictions) on the 2016 election.

1. Hillary Clinton is going to lose ground in the primaries simply because she has nowhere to go but down. Bernie Sanders will make her look too stiff and too calculated. Martin O’Malley will have a similar effect and make her seem old and uncharismatic. But she’ll win the primaries by more than a little (as long as she stays healthy, which isn’t something I’d bet on), and Martin O’Malley would make a great running mate.

2. Scott Walker will struggle in New Hampshire. He’ll also bore Republicans of all stripes as he tries desperately to appeal to all of them (which is impossible). He’ll struggle in the debates, too, which is never good for Republicans.

3. Rand Paul will place a consistent second or close third everywhere, no matter the state and no matter what happens in the rest of the field. In this way, he’ll be just like his dad.

4. Jeb Bush’s popularity will rise, slowly and surely and without hiccup, through 2015. He’ll shine in the debates. Skeptical Republicans will realize that he’s really about as conservative as they come, and he’ll win Iowa and New Hampshire and, therefore, the nomination.

I’m a big believer in the power of party—I think at least half of voters choose a candidate based on who they think has the best chance to beat the other party, and not based on candidates’ specific views or policies. In 2015, this effect will only be magnified on the Republican side because the opponent is already known. The drive to simply “beat Hillary” will work in Jeb’s favor since he’s the only one (I think) who has a chance at beating her. I also think Jeb believes this, which is why he doesn’t (and won’t) pander to the far-right.

So Jeb vs. Hillary in the general election, assuming no major scandal or health issue for either of them.

Now, some mysteries in this election are: Marco Rubio (almost impossible not to like, but I don’t think anyone believes he can beat Hillary), Chris Christie (if he runs, could either shine or bomb), and Rick Perry (perfect candidate on paper, with a record to back it up, but no support). Non-mystery, definite losers are: Carly Fiorina (too boring) and Santorum-Huckabee-Carson-Cruz (you know why).

One weird scenario would be if something happens to Hillary–health issue, major scandal, etc.–and she can’t run. No other Democrat has enough clout to put up a serious general election fight. That is, except for Joe Biden. He’s always wanted to be president, and Democrats love him. His campaign could amass in a matter of days. Heck, maybe he’ll run anyways, which would change everything.

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