Posted by Brad @ 1:51 pm on November 9th 2012

The 2016 Benches

Before we christen a new permanent Democratic majority, at least on the national stage, one thing to consider: the Republicans have one hell of a deep bench for the Presidential race of 2016. More so than at any point in nearly 20 years, I think. Here are some candidates I would consider very likely to run, and very strong candidates if they do:

Chris Christie
Marco Rubio
Paul Ryan
Rand Paul
Bob McDonnell
Nikki Haley

With a few that may well run, and to varying degrees could be strong (although most probably not):

Bobby Jindal
Mike Pence
Rick Santorum
Jeb Bush
Bobby Jindal
Jim Thune
Scott Walker
Rob Portman

Given the last two open primaries for the Republicans, the surrogate campaigning, as well as the shift in swing states, the vast majority of those candidates are going to battle-tested, come in with name ID and organization and major donors ready to pour in buckets money. Almost all those folks, in other words, will come in ready to rock.

On the Democratic side, I think it starts with an if/then. If Hilary runs, she’s anointed in the primary (and I think she runs). If not though…presuming Biden doesn’t run (and he might, but so what), who does that leave? Deval Patrick, Andrew Cuomo, Mark Warner…ugh…Martin O’Malley? That San Antonio mayor?

No, likely it’ll be much more like the 2004 or 1992 – some party elders that aren’t particularly popular coupled with a crop of charismatic but untested first timers and “oh, isn’t that that guy…?) types (think Lieberman/Kerry/Edwards/Dean/Clark, or Tsongas/Brown/Clinton/Kerrey/Harkin). The best you can say about it is it won’t be as bad the Republicans in 2012. The GOP may look a lot more like the Democrats in 2008, Republicans in 2000 or 1996 or 1980.

It is also unclear to me the extent to which the Obama Campaign Machine translates to anybody but Obama (a post for another day, but I partly think his small donors base and ground game is in part to him being as much a cultural icon as a political one – translating that to another candidate won’t be a matter of just giving over voter rolls and donor lists).

Of course, I think the Democrats have a better shot at lightning striking ala Clinton in 92, so in that sense they have a puncher’s chance. But the GOP will be set up damn well.

Something to think about.


  1. The “permanent _________ majority” discussion that follows literally every national election is one of my least favorite things about politics.

    It will never happen. Not ever.

    Comment by Rojas — 11/10/2012 @ 11:34 pm

  2. Yes, the media seems to think that the GOP has a deep bench going into 2016. But the media also believed that this was going to be a close election.

    You’ve pointed out the GOP establishment’s anger at Chris Christie, and let’s not forget that he pretty much has the same drawbacks as Giuliani in the GOP primary (urban background, social liberal, etc).

    Rubio can’t get traction as long as Jeb Bush is being floated, and Rubio has as much, if not more, baggage as Haley Barbour, who wisely backed away from a nomination fight that would have dragged all that out.

    The bench also looks longer if you list Bobby Jindal twice. Hah.

    Anyone who’s a Governor or Senator seems to be the major qualification for the Republicans at this point. With the same logic, why isn’t the Democratic bench seen as deep?

    Comment by FreedomDemocrat — 11/11/2012 @ 1:49 pm

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