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Not very often is an entire calendar year able to be characterized by a single event, but this year, that will likely be the case.
Without a doubt, at least in the United States, the 2016 calendar year will be dominated by one thing:
Think about how much the 2016 presidential election dominated the second half of 2015. Like some sort of twisted game, that attention will intensify month by month over the next 12 months until, in November, someone will win and it will simultaneously be the greatest and worst thing that has ever happened to this country.
How does the election dominate everything else? Because news outlets clamor for the candidates’ candid responses on everything. Every single major event has the potential to be reported from the election perspective. Everything from terrorist attacks to celebrity buzz can, and will, be connected to presidential candidates.
I eagerly await Buzzfeed’s take on which presidential candidates resemble which Disney characters based on quizzes they took on the campaign trail.
I’m voting for whoever is Aladdin, if we don’t decide to carpet bomb Agrabah before then, that is.
We simply won’t be able to escape election coverage. And, don’t get me wrong, I’m one of the few poor souls who finds politics interesting—I’m glued to the TV on election night. Even I will get sick of election coverage by the time November rolls around. I will wildly cheer when someone wins, whoever it is, as his or her victory will loosen Donald Trump’s death grip on the American media…unless…nahh…
Despite the fact that we’re all about to drown in election coverage, I am looking forward to progress actually being made. If the presidential election is a race, it feels like the last eight months of coverage have been nothing but banter about who is stretching at the starting line without anyone even mounting their blocks yet. Finally, in the next few weeks, the starting gun will fire, all of this coverage will start to mean something, and Iowa and New Hampshire will collectively sigh and wait until they’re popular again in four years.
So let’s have some fun and imagine what will happen between now and a year from now.
Before I continue, I should say a couple of things: I’m not sold out on who I’d vote for at this point (though I have a good idea) and the predictions below are what I think will happen, not necessarily what I want to happen. Also, I’m not a professional politico. This is just me having fun, predicting what I think will happen based on what I’ve seen so far. Don’t get all bent out of shape about it.
Let’s get the easy part out of the way first:
The Democratic race will become a duel, once Martin O’Malley inevitably drops out, and left-leaning Americans will have to figure out who they want to represent them in the general election. Bernie Sanders has become a stronger candidate than I ever thought he would—I thought he’d be a pretty marginal voice alongside Hillary.
Ultimately, I think Sanders the Ron/Rand Paul of the Democratic party. The duel between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders isn’t so much a boxing match as it is the former using the latter as a punching bag to prepare for the main event: the general election.
So, in sum: Hillary Clinton is your Democratic nominee for president because abuelas are more formidable in elections than socialists.
“How would you characterize the Republican primary, Chris?”
Like this, Internet:
By the time American Samoa and 14 real states vote on Super Tuesday (March 1st), I think all 12 of the candidates currently running will still be in the race, except for maybe one or two (Gilmore, Huckabee, and Santorum are all possibilities to drop early, I think).
After Super Tuesday, I think Donald Trump and perhaps a few others will withdraw. I just don’t see Trump staying in after, I’m sure, many states will not have him in the top one or two candidates.
Sometime around April or May, I expect the race for the Republican nomination to be a two-horse one between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
Not long ago, Cruz looked like the crazy uncle in the Republican party, making wild claims and reinforcing ugly Republican stereotypes. Having a big presence in the Tea Party movement and shutting down the government earned him a sour reputation among many Republicans who prefer to cooperate with Democrats instead of condemning their every action.
In short, Cruz was Trump before Trump was Trump, but now that Trump is Trump, Cruz looks reasonable.
Personal opinion alert: that scares me, because it seems to me that Cruz holds many of the same views as Trump, but simply isn’t as vulgar in expressing them. Cruz has been roundly criticized by his own party for not slamming Trump, but anyone who is paying attention must see that he can’t slam Trump, because when Trump is out after Super Tuesday, Cruz will need his voters.
So, when Trump inevitably falls out of the race, all of his followers will flock to Cruz, who they will rightfully see as Trump 2.0. Some have said they think Cruz would then tap Trump to be his vice presidential candidate. But, while I’m not a political professional, it seems to me the smarter play for Cruz would be to get a VP more moderate than he so he may wrangle more votes from Republicans who are more center-seated. Choosing Trump wouldn’t help Cruz get any more votes, which, if we’re honest, is 90% of what goes into choosing a VP.
So, like I said above, the Republican Primary will come down to Cruz and Rubio, and it will ultimately be a battle between old, staunch, Fox-News-Conservatives (Cruzites) and young, moderate, social-media-savvy conservatives (Rubioites).
Let’s look at Rubio.
I, and many others, became aware of Marco Rubio when he represented the Republican Party by issuing the official GOP response to the 2013 State of the Union address. You may not remember the speech, but you definitely remember the water break.
I had never heard of Rubio before this speech, and I was impressed when I watched it because he seemed like a winsome Republican, which can sound like an oxymoron at times in our current political climate. I remember being particularly impressed by the fact that he started his speech by congratulating President Obama on his second term—that really stuck out to me.
Anyway, as I’ve been observing the Republican primary on social media, in the news, and through the debates, it seems to me that older, far-right Republicans are in favor of Trump, Carson, or Cruz; younger, center-right Republicans are interested in Rubio, and no one is very interested in the other candidates.
Back in the summer of 2015, when I would talk with friends about the upcoming presidential race, I would usually say something like, “The Republicans don’t have a chance against Hillary if they run another old, white man.” I still believe this to be true, and trust me, I don’t have anything against old, white guys—I’ll be one soon enough. But Rubio is good for the Republican party because he’s a young Latino guy, not an old white guy. And, in a country where minorities are going to become the majority by the 2020 presidential election, running a Latino candidate in the general election is a good idea.
Like I said before, I think the Republican race will be down to Cruz and Rubio by April or May, and I think those two will be in a battle until the end. Predicting who will come out of this duel the winner is difficult.
Rubio’s youthful base is advantageous because of its passion, but disadvantageous because of its voter turnout rate. Cruz’s older base is advantageous because of its voter turnout base, but disadvantageous because of its lack of activity online.
The two will battle over the “evangelical vote” because Cruz will win over the remnants of the Moral Majority crowd and Rubio will win over the children of the Moral Majority crowd.
Ultimately, I think Cruz has a better chance of winning the primary against Rubio because the older voter base is more voracious about voting than the younger voter base.
But here’s the rub: Cruz is more likely to win the primary against Rubio, but Rubio is more likely than Cruz to beat Clinton in the general election.
The Republican nomination could come down to the convention! Which, if that’s the case, and if the Republican race is like a beauty pageant, we need to avoid this:
So who will win the Republican nomination? Probably Ted Cruz.
So, in my crystal ball, I see a Hillary Clinton versus Ted Cruz 2016 presidential election. If that is the case, I see two possible scenarios, and both of them hinge on one thing: who Ted Cruz chooses as his vice president.
Scenario 1: Ted Cruz chooses Marco Rubio or a minority, more center-leaning Republican, Clinton and Cruz will be a close race.
Scenario 2: If Ted Cruz chooses someone like himself, or another white, Fox-News-Conservative, he will get demolished by Clinton in 2016.
I think that, in order for the Republicans to beat Clinton in the general election, the young and old, the ultra- and sorta- conservative must unite their powers, with each having a representative on the ticket. We all know Cruz isn’t willing to work nicely with Democrats, but if he wins the nomination and he isn’t even willing to put a more center-leaning Republican on the ticket, his divisiveness will lose the race for him and his party.
Clinton, despite her many flaws as a candidate, is a strong candidate if for no other reason than she won’t have to worry about whether or not her party supports her. Center-leaning and far-left Democrats will vote for Clinton. Her party will unite around her. The Republicans, if they are not careful, will attempt to run a campaign against the Democratic party without the support of its own.
So, in all of my imaginary political knowledge:
I predict that Hillary Clinton and her running mate (whoever it is, it won’t matter) will win the White House.
If the 2016 election is a football game, the Republican team may be stronger than the Democrat team, but the Republican team may be too hindered by locker room brawls to work together for a win on the field.
There you have it.
What do you think? Feel free to comment. You can make all the prognostications you want here. Clearly I have, and I’m probably no smarter than you are on the matter.