Newark Political Buzz Examiner
The Early 2016 Presidential Race
The 2016 race for the White House has begun in earnest, and Governor Christie is mostly lost in a pack of candidates jockeying for position. We began coverage before they were all announced, with this look at early expectations.
The early 2016 Republican Presidential race
It is frequently the case that sixteen to eighteen months before a Presidential election the field of candidates starts to get crowded, and particularly for the party not in power. That is the case now, as half a dozen candidates have declared for the Republican nomination, and more than a dozen more are in the wings. The Democratic side has more than half a dozen names in the air, too, but first we will cover the Republicans, beginning with those officially in the race, in the order in which they announced their candidacies. Here, then, is a rough scorecard of the political "position" of each.
- The first to announce was New York Representative Peter King, who has been in the House of Representatives since 1992 and in the Presidential race officially since September. He is also probably the least known of the candidates identified here, and the early announcement has not much mitigated that disadvantage yet. However, it is early days, and more than once candidates who were unknown at the beginning of the race rose to the top before the end. Still, he has said nothing specific about his candidacy since announcing it, leading to speculation as to whether he is still in the race. He may be the most conservative candidate in the race on social issues (government intervention in moral and ethical matters), opposing both abortion and same-sex marriage, but he emphasizes economic issues, in which he is more moderate, near the middle of the Republican field with Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, and Donald Trump.
- Texas Senator Ted Cruz joined the race officially late in March; he has held his present office since 2013. As compared with King, he is socially less conservative but still solidly so. He is considerably better known, having been a prominent candidate in the last Presidential primary field. He is one of the most free-market oriented candidates in the race, more so even than Rand Paul. Cruz is Hispanic, which is thought to be a point in his favor. Cruz is one of eight contenders consistently polling at five percent or better.
- Kentucky Senator Rand Paul announced his candidacy at the end of the first week of April. Son of Libertarian champion Ron Paul, he has been in the Senate since 2011. He is favored by the libertarian wing of the party, very free-marked oriented on economic issues and the most centrist on social ones in the field to date. Notably he favors finding a pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens; he is not strong against same sex marriage, but does strongly oppose abortion. Paul also appears consistently at five percent or better in polls.
- Senator Marco Rubio, also in the Senate since 2011, announced his candidacy a week after Paul. Rubio is young and the child of Cuban immigrants; immigration reform is high on his list, and he worked on a reform bill in the Senate which failed, although he is against an easy pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens. He is among the most conservative candidates on social issues, and nearly as strongly free-market oriented economically as Rand Paul. Rubio falls in the group of eight polling consistently at or above five percent.
- Doctor Ben Carson announced his candidacy on May 3rd. He has never held or run for political office before, but an analysis of his speeches and writings suggest that he is socially more moderate than most of the candidates, and more free-market oriented than Peter King but less so than Marco Rubio. Carson also pulls poll numbers of five percent or better consistently.
- The morning after Carson's announcement, former Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Officer Carly Fiorina joined the race. She has never held political office, having lost a race for Senate in 2010. She is slightly less moderate than Carson but still more so than most of the other candidates, while economically she edges out King as least free-market oriented, although there are several potential candidates more moderate than she. Although Fiorina is the only woman actually in the Republican race, she says that sex should not be an issue; her poll numbers have run around one percent.
- Continuing the streak, the day after Fiorina's announcement former Arkansas Governor and more recent Fox News commentator Mike Huckabee announced candidacy. Huckabee grew up in poverty, and as governor improved health care for low-income children, opposed standard Republican rhetoric on taxes, extended in-state Arkansas college tuition rates to undocumented children, and worked for criminal justice reform to promote racial equality within the legal system. He winds up very near the center of the Republican field both socially and economically, less conservative socially than Cruz and comparable in his support of free market solutions to Carson. Huckabee also consistently polls at five percent or better.
That is all the presently announced candidates, but there are even more whose announcements are expected. Rob Portman announced that he would not be running, but quite a few who have apparently been considering a run have not yet confirmed a decision. We still wait to hear from these potential candidates. Just recently, former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton officially stated he is not running, after exploring a possible campaign.
- Chris Christie, New Jersey Governor since 2010, might be the most moderate candidate in the race. He is socially more conservative than Paul but less so than Carson, and his economic policies are very near the middle, possibly slightly more toward government involvement than free market and least conservative of any candidate listed here. Were it not for the current Bridgegate scandal he would be the most viable candidate for the general election--but perhaps not so likely to win the conservative-driven primary. He is well known nationally from serving as chairman of the Republican Governor's Association, and campaigning for other Republican candidates. Despite his problems, he is among the eight candidates consistently polling five percent or better. Feedback from his recent meetings in New Hampshire suggest that he is considered an excellent candidate, but that the so-called "Bridgegate" scandal might derail him.
- Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who served in the Senate from 1995 through 2007, mirrors Christie fairly closely--socially landing less conservative than Christie but still significantly more than Paul, economically the nearest candidate to the middle but several steps toward the free-market side. He is also known from his showing in the last Presidential race.
- Ohio Governor John Kasich has held that office since 2011. A surge of popularity led to speculation that he would enter the race, but there have been some downturns for him more recently. On social issues he is near the middle of the Republican field, comparable to Jeb Bush and more moderate than Mike Huckabee. He is more moderate economically than Fiorina, but not nearly so much as Santorum or Christie.
- Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who served from 1999 through 2007) and is the son of former President George H. W. Bush and brother of former President George W. Bush, falls quite near the middle of the field; he might be the party's compromise candidate in addition to his other advantages. He is slightly less conservative on social issues than Huckabee, comparable to Kasich, and on economic issues he is close to King. Further, as a successful governor of a strongly Hispanic state and husband of a Mexican-American, he is regarded as a viable candidate to woo the Hispanic demographic. Perhaps not surprisingly given his connections and background, Bush polls consistently in the five percent or better range.
- Former Texas Governor Rick Perry, who served from 2000 to 2011, is another returning contestant from the conservative wing. He is on par with Huckabee on social issues, but almost as free-market oriented as Rubio.
- South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham has been in office since 2003, and is another strong conservative, socially comparable to Rubio and economically falling between Carson and Perry.
- Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has held that office since 2008. The son of Indian immigrants (that is, from Punjab) he is as socially conservative as Rubio and Graham, and more free-market oriented than Rubio but not so much as Paul. Only yesterday--Monday, May 18th--he announced that he is forming a committee to explore the possibility of running, but he has long been named as a possible by observers.
- Indiana Governor Mike Pence has been there since 2013. He is near the middle of the field on social issues, comparable to Huckabee and Perry, but is far and away the most laissez-faire candidate economically, beating Paul and even Cruz on free market economic preferences.
- The millionaire businessman Donald Trump is considered a possible candidate. He falls in the middle of the Republican field, falling about equal with Bush on economic issues and slightly less conservative on social ones. Trump's poll numbers are consistently just below five percent, which are stronger than quite a few candidates in the field taken more seriously by observers.
- Former Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich--one of the few Republicans to win that state in its entire history, serving from 2003 through 2006--has said he is listening to voters and trying to decide whether to run. On social issues he stands about equal with Trump; on economics, with Jindal.
- Former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore, in that office from 1997 to 2001, was in the 2008 race early but dropped out because of fundraising issues; he considers his credentials as former chair of the National Commission on Homeland Security evidence of strong foreign policy knowledge. He is socially relatively conservative, falling between Huckabee and Cruz, but much more moderate economically, not too far from Santorum.
- Former Alaska Governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is said to be very interested in running. Governor 2006 through 2009 and Mitt Romney's running mate in the 2012 race, she is surprisingly close to Romney in policies--a bit less conservative on the social issues but not so much as Fiorina, a bit less free-market oriented but not so much as Gilmore.
- Former New York Governor George Pataki is said to be considering a run.
There are even a couple of Republicans who have denied interest in running but who are still considered viable candidates who might be drafted. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has held that office since 2011, and was in the news as a conservative hero for a while. He is slightly less conservative than Trump on social issues, and about par with Graham on economics, and despite having given no indication of a run consistently scores five percent or better in polls which include his name.. Former Massachusetts Governor (2003-2007) and former Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is often named, despite denying any interest in running. He tends to be more centrist, about the same level as Walker on social issues but on economics standing more moderate than Kasich, a bit more free-market than Gilmore. Former Indiana Governor (2005-2013) Mitch Daniels has stated he is not in the race, but still is being watched by observers; he falls between Santorum and Paul as moderate on social issues, only mildly conservative on economic ones between Kashich and Fiorina.
Other names have been mentioned. New Hampshire Senator (since 2010) Kelly Ayotte has made no mention of a Presidential bid and says she will run for re-election to the Senate, but her name is floated particularly in connection with the vice presidential slot; she comes in more conservative on social issues than any other candidate, but comparable to Graham and Walker on economics. Susana Martinez, New Mexico Governor since 2010, is similarly mentioned for a vice presidential spot; first female Hispanic governor in the nation and first female governor in New Mexico, she falls comparable to Huckabee, Perry, and Pence on social issues, but less free-market oriented even than Christie. Also in the category of frequently mentioned potential vice presidential candidates is Nevada Governor (since 2010) Brian Sandoval, comparable to Christie on social issues, slightly less free-market oriented than Gilmore but not so much as Santorum.
That is the Republican field as it currently stands; already there is talk of the problems this is going to create for the televised debate schedule, and solutions for how to get candidates on the stage together in a limited program time are being circulated. We will try to get up to speed on the Democrats next.
Assessments of candidate positions based on On the Issues's VoteMatch.
The Early 2016 Democratic Presidential Race
Having looked at the candidates in the Republican race, we turn our attention to the much smaller field of Democratic contenders. Ratings comparisons in this article sometimes compare candidates to those in that article.
- The first to announce was former First Lady (1993-2001), former New York Senator (2001-2009), and former Secretary of State (2009-2013) Hillary Clinton. She ran against Obama in the 2008 primary, but served in his cabinet and has been seen as his heir apparent, the "shoo-in" candidate on the Democratic side. For some time the race was stalled on the Democratic side because no one wanted to enter the race before knowing what she was going to do, but in April her candidacy was officially announced. She falls in the middle of the Democratic field on social issues, just left of center and well into the "moderate" range; economically she is more extreme, approaching socialist conceptions of a controlled economy.
- Although he identifies himself as an Independent and a Socialist, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was the second to announce an intention to seek the Democratic nomination. He has served in the Senate since 2007, and was in the House of Representatives prior to that back to 1991. He is generally regarded one of the nation's leading progressives. Surprisingly he is more conservative socially than Clinton, but still near the moderate range, and he matches her rating on economic issues.
That is all the presently announced candidates, but there are about a dozen others who might be interested or are considered likely candidates:
- Lincoln Chafee, Rhode Island Governor since 2011 when he was the only governor not belonging to a major party but since joining the Democratic party, was once a one-term Republican Senator from that state before losing to a Democrat in 2006. His term as Governor ended at the beginning of 2015. He rates slightly more centrist socially (more conservative) than Clinton, almost as conservative of Rand Paul (most liberal of the Republicans on social issues), and near the middle of the Democratic pack economically, considerably more conservative than the announced candidates, but far more controlling than any of the Republican candidates.
- Two-term Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, whose eight-year run ended at the beginning of 2015 due to term limits, is often mentioned as a possible contender and is expected to announce his intentions as early as this coming weekend. He won by strong margins in Maryland, but his lieutenant governor, whom he endorsed, lost to the Republican challenger. Socially he is the most centrist candidate in the race, landing between Republicans Rand Paul and Mitch Daniels; economically he is slightly more controlling than Chafee.
- Former one-term Virginia Senator Jim Webb (2007, did not seek re-election in 2012) is also mentioned. He falls to the conservative side of all the Democrats mentioned so far, between O'Malley and Republican Daniels socially, almost as free-market oriented as the least of the Republicans, Susana Martinez.
- Former two-term Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer retired because of term limits in 2013, and is also frequently named here. He is slightly more conservative socially and somewhat less free-market oriented than Webb, on par socially with Daniels, more economically controlling than Chafee.
- Vice President and former Delaware Senator Joe Biden has pointedly not excluded the possibility that he might run, and there are some in the party that support him if only to give Clinton serious competition. He is as liberal socially as Sanders, but economically more moderate, between Chafee and Schweitzer.
- Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren might be drafted; there is a strong move to put her on the ballot and even though she was among those encouraging a Clinton run her staff says she should not be counted out. She took the Senate seat in 2013. Comparable to Biden and Sanders socially, she is significantly more progressive/controlling economically than Sanders.
- Mark Warner, former governor of and current (since 2008) Senator from Virginia, is sometimes mentioned, but has made no comments himself; his record is more aligned with a moderate Republican than a moderate Democrat, more conservative than Carly Fiorina socially, almost as conservative as Rick Santorum economically, and the most conservative Democrat in the field.
- Current Secretary of State John Kerry ran unsuccessfully for President in 2004 and denies that he is interested in trying again, but the long-time Senator from Massachusetts (1984-2013) is frequently named as a possibility. He is extremely liberal socially, significantly more than Biden, and slightly more liberal than Warren economically.
- Current (since 2011) New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has also stated he is not running; he is rated slightly less socially conservative than Clinton, slightly less economically conservative than Biden.
- Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, appointed to fill Clinton's vacated seat in 2009, says she is a Clinton supporter; she rates with Sanders, Warren, and Biden on social issues, slightly less progressive than Clinton or Sanders on economic ones.
- Minnesota Senator (since 2006) Amy Kobuchar says she is focused on representing her own state, but still appears among the lists of possible candidates. Her ratings match those of Brian Schweitzer on both social and economic issues.
- Former Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich ran before, but says he is not running again; he is an extreme liberal, between Biden and Kerry on the social scale but economically favoring government intrusion in everything, beyond even Kerry.
We should also mention Jill Stein, not a Democrat and not a present or previous office holder, but the Green Party candidate in 2012 who might appear again in 2016. She garnered almost half a million votes, 0.4% of the total, in the 2012 race. She ties Kucinech on economic control, and on social issues is slightly more liberal than he, but not so much so as Kerry.
That is the Democratic field as it currently stands; we covered the Republicans above.
Assessments of candidate positions based on On the Issues's VoteMatch.