Every Tuesday until I get tired of it, I will be running power rankings of Republican presidential candidates. The goal is to accurately predict who will be running in 2016. Although, the vice-presidential power rankings were ultimately a failure because we were unable to predict who would be nominated, it was one of my favorite things to write.
Mitt Romney has been the looming specter of the Republican primaries. He has run in 2008 and 2012 in the primaries. So much, in fact, that many Republicans might be sick of him. Romney proved himself to be a masterful fund-raiser and once again proved that money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you a ton of negative ads in Ohio. So, what will happen in 2016? Will Romney run again?
1. Marco Rubio- Rubio will be #1 for the foreseeable future. He is my Erubiel Durazo. Congratulations to the one person who will understand that joke/reference. Rubio was featured prominently in my vice-president power rankings and figures to be featured here, as well. What does Rubio bring to the table? Well, he is relatively young. He is also a racial minority. He has good name recognition. His niche in politics, at this point, seems to be his stance on immigration issues. This makes him different than almost any other candidate, unless something drastic changes. Politicians, especially those running in the presidential primaries like to find their niche and stick with it. This could be his niche. If he chooses to run, he figures to be a force to be reckoned with.
2. Bobby Jindal- Jindal has already started his presidential run by distancing himself from the “gifts” comments Romney has made. Jindal has been one of my favorites since about 2010 or so. He was chosen to voice the Republican response to the State of the Union address. He has been the governor of Louisiana for some time and is also a minority, two things that might work in his favor. His biggest problem is that a presidential run might lead to intense scrutiny to his policies. I haven’t looked at them. But there might be things in there that might hurt his chances.
3. Jeb Bush- The Daily Show has not hesitated to link Jeb Bush to the 2016 presidential election. They even called the 2012 RNC: the road to Jeb Bush 2016. Bush has essentially retired from politics and there is no indication that he would run. But if he steps back in, he would definitely be a favorite for the Republican party. The Republican party is headed for a split or a return to the middle, both of these things help Jeb Bush. A more extreme Republican party would not be a good fit for Jeb.
4. Paul Ryan- I, personally, think that Ryan’s political career is over at this point. But he might decide to go out with a bang. Regardless of how Republicans feel about him now, there are factions of the Republican party who blame, rightly or wrongly, Ryan for the Romney loss. While Karl Rove is marching towards irrelevance, he did say that if you couldn’t win this election, you should get out of politics.
5. Bob McDonnell- McDonnell has some name recognition for being the governor of Virginia, for being a Romney surrogate, transvaginal ultrasounds, and being the leader of the Republican Governors Association. Like Jindal, his policies might hurt him, if he decides to run.
6. Brian Sandoval- a somewhat moderate pro-same-sex marriage Republican? What better way is there to announce that the party will be more moderate?
7. Chris Christie- As we get further from the election, Christie’s stock will rise. Numerous Republicans blame Christie’s failure to re-endorse Romney after Hurricane Sandy for Romney’s loss in the election. I thought Christie provided a nice moment both for him and Republicans by not bringing up politics where there was no point to. That moment will look better with the passage of time. His typical bulldog style/attitude will play well in the primaries.
8. Allen West- while he’s still complaining about a recount in the Florida Congressional election, he is still a favorite among Tea Party. If the Republican party splits, West could be mentioned as a possible presidential candidate. There was some talk in 2012 about a potential Gingrich/West ticket. That never came to fruition.
9. Scott Walker- Honestly, I have not understood why the media keeps saying that Walker is a Republican darling. He survived a recall election, bully for him. His policies in Wisconsin have been unpopular. He was never a fundraising giant until his back was up against the wall and got bailed out by his fellow Wisconsinite Reince Preibus and the Republican National Committee. But Walker continues to be mentioned as a possibility, so I’ll list him here.
10. Nikki Hayley and Kelly Ayotte- Both were mentioned as potential vice-presidential candidates for Romney. Hayley is the governor of South Carolina and reportedly declined the offer. There was a small scandal in her state around the same time. She denied any wrongdoing but a presidential run might put the spotlight on her. Ayotte was an early supporter of Romney. She is also an East Coast Republican who might connect with the Midwest (Ohio, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, etc.) much like Romney in 2012. I imagine the Republican party learns from the mistakes in this election.
Honorable mentions: Scott Brown, if Brown had been re-elected in 2012, I would have placed him on the list. As it stands, he does not seem to have the popularity to win his home state much less compete in a nationwide election.
General Petraeus- This sex scandal will hurt his chances. But it’s also possible that we just forget about them in four years. If Newt Gingrich can claim the moral high ground, anything is possible.
Mike Huckabee- there is a good chance that he will be moved much higher on this list as we move forward. Republicans have strong feelings towards Huckabee. He is leading early polls with Republicans and it’s ultimately up to him. If he decides to run, he’ll be a decided favorite for some time.