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It may be a little bit early to focus too much attention on 2016, as some, even on this site, have pointed out. We have some extremely important work ahead for us in 2014.

However, there's something about 2016 that makes that election unique in modern American political history. It could end up being one of the most groundbreaking and fascinating presidential elections in a long, long time.

Not only will there be no incumbent president, but there is no clear Republican frontrunner for the nomination. That last part may not sound like that big of a deal. However, when you consider that there was a Republican frontrunner who won that party's nomination every presidential election year from 2012 going back to 1968, what will be amazing is whether a new frontrunner does emerge and who that might be. Meanwhile, there is none.

Since 1968, the Republicans have had a clear frontrunner and have nominated that frontrunner as their nominee in every presidential election. In 1968, Richard Nixon* became the prohibitive favorite for the Republican nomination after “reinventing” himself while in political exile for eight years. And he was the obvious frontrunner for the GOP nod as an incumbent in 1972. In 1976, the incumbent Gerald Ford became the prohibitive favorite for the GOP nod, despite a spirited campaign by Ronald Reagan. In 1980, the frontrunner was the 1976 GOP runner-up, Ronald Reagan, who was the frontrunner as incumbent in 1984. In 1988, the “heir apparent” and frontrunner was George Herbert Walker Bush. In 1992, as the incumbent, he, again, was the frontrunner for the nomination and won it. In 1976, longtime Republican politician Bob Dole became the frontrunner and won the nomination. In 2000, George Walker Bush, who had led in the polls for both the nomination and for the White House for years before any primary election, entered the primary campaign as the clear frontrunner and won. And again in 2004. In 2008, John McCain became the frontrunner by virtue of having been the also-ran to the incumbent Republican President (in the 2000 Republican primaries). And Mitt Romney, the also-ran to McCain in 2008, entered the election as the Republcan frontrunner (though he had a lot of ups and downs once the campaign got into gear, starting as the frontrunner, then sharing frontrunner status, on and off, with the likes of a variety of people, such as Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newton LeRoy Gingrich and even Rick Santorum for a while, but Romney entered the campaign as the favorite and was able to take on every new opponent, one-at-a-time in state after state and secure the nomination).

Unless something unforeseen happens between now and January of 2016, it seems likely that Republicans could be facing the first truly “open” race for the nomination since either Richard Nixon in 1968* or Barry Goldwater in 1964.

There are currently a lot of names being bandied about as far as potential Republican candidates, but nobody, not even the losing 2012 vice presidential Republican nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan, could be considered a frontrunner at this point.

Of course, it's also possible that, should Hillary Clinton and Vice President Biden decide not to enter the race, that Democrats might end up with no frontrunner, as well. Which would make 2016 the first presidential contest with no Republican nor Democratic frontrunner since...1928(?)

It will be interesting to see how the Republican Party fares, after a couple of shellackings in presidential races, with nobody the party can consider its rightful heir, in terms of the presidential nomination. The party has tended to like to nominate frontrunners.

A couple of days ago, kos published a story about how Hillary Clinton would be the clear favorite, at least for the Democratic nomination, should she decide to run in 2016. He even cited polls showing her competitive in a general election in states like Texas and Kentucky, of all places. (Here's a link:http://www.dailykos.com/...)

So, while Hillary seems like the prohibitive favorite to win the Democratic nomination should she run in 2016, the corrollary to that is that the Republicans not only have no clear favorite for a general election campaign, they do not even have, at this point in time, a favorite for the nomination...for the first time in more than 44 years. That, to me, points to what is likely to be a very interesting presidential campaign.

The last time the Republicans had a wide-open campaign for the nomination, with no clear frontrunner was...the 1960's.

(* The argument could be made that George Romney was the frontrunner for the 1968 nomination, by virtue of a lead in the polls he had at the start of the campaign, but Nixon actually entered the race in a lot better shape than many had thought, having successfully reinvented his public image and having lined up key endorsements and financial support entering the campaign. If you think Romney was the favorite, then 2016 will be the first without a Republican frontrunner since 1968, not 1964.)

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Comment Preferences

  •  But Did They Have a Frontrunner 4 Years Earlier (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe, karmsy, wdrath, drmah, slothlax

    in all those races? Was Reagan the 1980 frontrunner as early as 1977?

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 12:33:02 PM PST

  •  Republicans have played "it's my turn" for years (8+ / 0-)

    But that was based on a unified Republican entity and consensus. Not this time though, another example of the fracturing within the Republican party.

    I appreciate very much how the Republicans stand firmly in favor of stimulus to the popcorn industry. It's going to be an interesting election!

  •  Mittch Romney? eom (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    karmsy, wdrath, blueyedace2, NormAl1792

    'Guns don't kill people, video games do - paraphrased from Lamar Alexander (Sen-R-TN)'

    by RichM on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 12:37:11 PM PST

  •  If Santorum plays his cards right he's (12+ / 0-)

    the frontrunner. He finished second, he was endorsed by the evangelicals, he has name recognition.

    That he is utterly unelectable matters not one whit.

    Economics is a social *science*. Can we base future economic decisions on math?

    by blue aardvark on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 12:46:58 PM PST

    •  He also outperformed his resources (8+ / 0-)

      He ran a shoe-string campaign and was massively outspent by Romney and Perry, for example, in Iowa. I think that's the key. It is also worth noting that Santorum in 2012 performed very similarly, overall, as did Romney in 2008 -- but Romney pour, what, $45 million of his own fortune into his second-place 2008 finish?

      In 2016, Santorum will have the experience of a previous run under his belt, as well as the nascent campaign infrastructure from his previous run. So if Rubio and Christie and Ryan and Ayotte would to split the exciting-newcomer-vote while Santorum quietly scoops up the evangelicals and those blue-collar poor that vote GOP (ie, the souther Ohio/West Virginia type), then Santorum has a very realistic shot at the nomination.

      Nothing is certain, of course. But it would fit the pattern of the GOP in recent years.

  •  Mitt Romney's son has political aspirations. (6+ / 0-)

    And funding up the yin-yang. And a jaw of steel, and cold Aryan blue eyes. He's a man for the Ages. A man of the people. A man to warm the heart of dying old Republican crazies everywhere. Now what's his name?

    Trip? Trap? Trump? Tootles? Something like this. By all means, get him in the race.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 12:51:55 PM PST

  •  Since they will be trying (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wdrath, MidwestTreeHugger, slothlax

    to do better with the "Blah" people, I'm sure there will be a run on blackface makeup. And then they will be perplexed as to why that didn't work.

    These capitalists generally act harmoniously and in concert, to fleece the people... -Abraham Lincoln

    by HugoDog on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 12:54:20 PM PST

  •  Rubio is the front runner (7+ / 0-)

    He is the "most electable conservative".  He's the front runner.  He is the only person that the establishment can push without getting rebuked by their fringe base.

    Ryan's DOA because of his budget policies.

    Watch out for that dude people, he is a charming guys that really knows how to "sound" reasonable while not actually backing anything reasonable at all--I bet you he ends up voting no on immigration reform because it's not hawkish enough.

    But he's charming and telegenic, we'll need someone on our side that looks good on TV and can explain shit.  We might be spoiled, because you cant' get better than Bill or Barack.

    •  Rubio seems (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NormAl1792

      to me to be the Republican candidate with the most potential, for the reasons you've cited and more (he can help appeal to Hispanics, for instance, he's from a major state that's usually a swing state (FL), although Ted Cruz could also be a contender.

      Am not sure if Rubio is considered the "frontrunner" by most folks at this point, however, though he could quickly become the frontrunner should he enter the race.

      •  Ted Cruz was born in Canada. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wdrath, Stude Dude

        Not as bad as Kenya, I concede...

        GOP Agenda: Repeal 20th Century.

        by NormAl1792 on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 01:43:11 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  perhaps we should insist (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NormAl1792, Stude Dude, Maverick80229

          ...that he show us a "real" copy of his birth certificate, should he run?

        •  Apparently Cruz's situation is not clear (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NormAl1792, wdrath, Stude Dude

          insofar as whether he is truly qualified or not to run for president.  The issue is whether his father was a citizen when he was born (he was not), and whether his parents had lived in the US sufficiently long and ecently enough before his birth.  But, it's not been tested in court, so might have to be before he might proceed.  Perhaps some of his parents' chronology is now being or has already been "adjusted" to fit the desired outcome?

          IANACS (I am not a Constitutional scholar), but Cruz is a dangerous, SMART SOB.

          That's all I got.

          I'm part of the "bedwetting bunch of website Democrat base people (DKos)." - Rush Limbaugh, 10/16/2012 Torture is Wrong! We live near W so you don't have to. Send love.

          by tom 47 on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 02:22:51 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  What was he considered when he was born? (0+ / 0-)

            To me, that's the only question.  If he was considered an American citizen when he was born, then that's it.  Going back and re-litigating it seems unnecessary to me.

            There is truth on all sides. The question is how much.

            by slothlax on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 04:36:55 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Does Rubio run right, or center? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wdrath, slothlax

    It should be a fascinating primary. Rubio won his seat on the back of the Tea Party all the way, but lately he's the point man on softening the GOP and reaching out to minorities. Does he let Jindal, Santorum, Perry, and the other crazies battle it out on the right, and try to beat out Christie as the next McCain/Romney?

    (-2.38, -3.28) Independent thinker

    by TrueBlueDem on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 01:03:30 PM PST

  •  Three realistic Front Runners... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wdrath

    It is quite realistic that Ryan, Perry or Santorum could put together quite realistic leads within a year or so.

  •  Romney wasn't the clear frontrunner in 2009 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wdrath, slothlax

    http://www.cnn.com/...
    http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/...
    http://www.gallup.com/...
    http://blogs.e-rockford.com/...

    Romney wasn't the clear frontrunner in 2009. I thought he was the most likely nominee, just as I think Santorum is for 2016. But in 2009, Romney was not yet showing up in the polls as the frontrunner. At that point, support was pretty much split between Romney, Palin and Huckabee.

  •  Rubio is aiming to make himself (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wdrath

    The prohibitive frontrunner.

    IF he is seen as the one advancing immigration reform, he's going to argue to the money in the party that a Republican who carries 35% of the Hispanic vote wins the election.   He'd be right.. but that's a big assumption.

    Still, it says to those that donate what they WANT to hear, and it's likely he'd get money into campaign coffers with it

    Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

    by Chris Reeves on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 01:14:02 PM PST

    •  Just one problem (0+ / 0-)

      Rubio can't deliver 35% of the Hispanic vote. He can deliver a significant portion of the Cuban-American vote.

      •  Shhhhhh (0+ / 0-)

        That's not the story he's going to tell his backers.

        Worse is he hasn't realized that the people naturalized in an immigration bill he wants will be mostly Texas, New Mexico, Colorado & Arizona.   With Texas the big swipe of that.   If he's wrong in his gamble, Texas turns purple in a hurry.

        Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

        by Chris Reeves on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 05:36:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  As matters stand Chris Christie is the best shot (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wdrath, k88dad, slothlax

    they have. The only R who seems to have a sort of positive ID and an image that is not cold and cruel at least most of the time. His recent appearance on Letterman  being cussed out by fat jokes where is reply is to pull out and eat a donut suggests somebody of a righteous amount of dry wit at the very least.  Of coure he also has a lot of bad video, but at least we can smile when it is played.

    •  You think the "base" will forgive Christie's (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wdrath, Lost and Found

      Obamalove and his reaming out Congressional R's over Sandy aid?  I don't.

      •  he's also been unabashedly pro-choice (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        slothlax, Lost and Found

        ...and while Romney was able to overcome his previous pro-choice-ness with a new, rabid, anti-choiceness...am not sure whether Christie could---or would--try to do the same thing. Regardless, there are a lot of rabid anti-choice folks in the Republican Party.

        •  But he is morbidly obese (0+ / 0-)

          and diabetes, the silent epidemic, is going to be an enormous expensive problem in this country. However, if he became president, he could be the biggest winner.

        •  What on earth are you talking about? (0+ / 0-)

          Chris Christie is not in any way, shape, or form, pro-choice. He's solidly on the anti-choice side.  One of his first moves as governor was slashing family planning funding.

          •  The pivot was nearly 20 years ago (0+ / 0-)

            1996: partial birth procedure is reprehensible

            1996: partial birth procedure is reprehensible In July 1996, the freeholder board voted 5-2 for a resolution urging Congress to override President Bill Clinton's April veto of a bill that would have banned most "partial birth" abortions. The item was raised by Christie at a work session. "It offended
            Source: Rise to Power, by B. Ingle & M. Symons, p. 54 , Jun 5, 2012

            1994: Donated to Planned Parenthood; opposed public donation
            1994: Donated to Planned Parenthood; opposed public donation During the general election campaign, when Democratic candidates called for the county to restore its former annual $35,000 contribution to Planned Parenthood of Greater Northern NJ, which was eliminated in 1989 after an abortion controversy, 1994: Donated to Planned Parenthood; opposed public donation Planned Parenthood privately with my personal contribution and that should be the goal of any such agency, to find private donations," he said. "It's also no secret that
            Source: Rise to Power, by B. Ingle & M. Symons, p. 49 , Jun 5, 2012

            Pro-choice until seeing daughter pre-natally
            Pro-choice until seeing daughter pre-natally In a 2011 interview, Christie said his conversion on the issue had occurred in 1995. It followed a doctor's visit made 6 months before his daughter's birth.

            "I had been pro-choice before that. It was just kind of the default position that I took," Pro-choice until seeing daughter pre-natally And we heard this incredibly strong heartbeat. And I remember we came separately. And I was driving back to work, I said to myself, you know, as to my position on abortion, I would say that a week ago that wasn't a life. And I heard that heartbeat.
            Source: Rise to Power, by B. Ingle & M. Symons, p. 54 , Jun 5, 2012

            I'm pro-life with exceptions; take it or leave it
            Q: Would you sign the abortion pledge going around the Republican field?

            A: I haven't seen the abortion pledge, I don't know what it says.

            Q: Only pro-life people working for you; a promise to back anything that coincides with the life agenda; defunding public payments for abortion across the board.

            A: Here's my position on it. My name's the name on the ballot. I am pro-life, I believe in exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother. That's my position, take it or leave it.
            Source: Interview on NBC "Meet the Press" , Jun 26, 2011

            Life is precious and should be protected
            Q: On abortion, quite controversially for a New Jersey governor, you came out strongly against it, a pretty liberal state when you became Governor?

            A: I just told people about it right up front. I'm pro-life, I believe in exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother, but I do believe that life is precious and should be protected.
            Source: Interview on CNN "Piers Morgan Tonight" , Jun 15, 2011

            link
  •  Maybe a stupid question, but (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wdrath, a2nite

    isn't the best-polling candidate when the primary season begins the frontrunner, by definition?   Both parties will have a frontrunner in the strictest sense of the term, but it may or may not be someone with the clearest pre-season hype.

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 01:21:28 PM PST

    •  true... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pico

      ...at least to some extent...it would depend on who is leading by how much, perhaps? If someone were ahead of the pack by a few percentage points, which might be considered within pollsters' margins of error...perhaps there'd be no real frontrunner. If someone entered the primary campaign season with a clear advantage among pollsters and money raised...then you're right. Which is why there was a caveat in the diary about the possibility of there being a frontrunner by the time the primary campaign season starts. At this point, there does not appear to be one.

  •  They'll run another proven loser, as usual... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wdrath, NancyWH, Cronesense, Maverick80229

    You betcha!
    Colonize the moon
    999
    2nd Amendment remedies
    Oops!
    Man on dog sex
    I'm not a witch
    Return to the gold standard
    Self-deportation
    Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran

    I could go on, but the list of Republican losers is without limits.

    *Austerity is the opposite of Prosperity*

    by josmndsn on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 02:01:19 PM PST

    •  it appears that the Republicans have run out of (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NancyWH, josmndsn, drmah, milkbone

      "heir apparents," at least for now...am not sure whether that's good or bad for us...only time will tell. But, you're right, the good news is...they haven't been running anyone great lately and even George Walker Bush wasn't exactly...stellar material. If it weren't for his daddies' connections and virtually unlimited amounts of money, he would never have made it to be governor on his own merits, let alone president.

  •  It doesn't matter who they nominate. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drmah

    The primary will force all candidates to run to the far, far right, then bind them to those positions in the general.

    The Base won't forgive Rubio or Christie for appearing slightly moderate, no matter how much the establishment promotes them. Meanwhile, potential candidates like Rand Paul, Sam Brownback, and Kelly Ayotte have no such baggage. Paul or Brownback would certainly thrill The Base, while Ayotte might get promoted to "prove" that the GOP isn't anti-woman.

  •  Well, there's this, from yesterday: (0+ / 0-)

    Resuming episode.

    My political compass: - 8.38,-6.97

    by pucklady on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 03:17:04 PM PST

  •  Clown/Car 2016 (n/m) (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Maverick80229, milkbone
  •  "Not Teabagger" seems to be most popular here. (0+ / 0-)
  •  I think Jeb would be the frontrunner (0+ / 0-)

    If Jeb Bush runs, he immediately becomes the frontrunner due to the name and executive experience.  He would turf out Christie and the Senators wouldn't be able to match is history of actually doing stuff in power.

    BTW, Dole did run in 1976 as the vice presidential nominee, but I believe you were talking about his 1996 run.

    There is truth on all sides. The question is how much.

    by slothlax on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 04:10:42 PM PST

  •  Typo (0+ / 0-)

    Bob Dole 1996 (not 1976).

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