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US Elections: The favourites for 2016

18 November 2012

Even so soon after President Obama’s reelection, speculation over who might replace him in January 2017 is already in full swing. Here are the early favourites, as judged by Ladbrokes:


Paul Ryan: Nominee 5/1, President 12/1
The Congressman from Wisconsin has gained national prominence as chair of the House Budget Committee and more recently as Mitt Romney’s running mate, setting him up as the early favourite to be the GOP’s next nominee. But if he were to be successful in the primaries, it’d be only the second time ever a losing Vice Presidential candidate had won the nomination four years later. Of the 16 losing VP nominees since the Second World War, eight ran for their party’s nomination in the next election, and only one — Walter Mondale — secured it. He went on to lose to Ronald Reagan in 1984.

In fact, only one failed VP candidate has ever ascended to the White House: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who lost as James M Cox’s running mate in 1920 before becoming President in 1932. Assuming he’s still a Congressman by then, Ryan would also be only the second sitting member of the House of Representatives to become President — the other being James A Garfield in 1880.

Marco Rubio: Nominee 6/1, President 12/1
Tea Party favourite Marco Rubio was elected to the Senate from Florida in 2010, and by the summer of 2011 was the strong favourite to be this year’s Republican Vice Presidential candidate. Although Romney ultimately chose Ryan, Rubio remains a favourite of the right, and his Cuban roots are seen as a chance for the GOP to connect with the growing number of Hispanic voters — Barack Obama won the Latino vote 71-27 this year. Rubio did his 2016 chances no harm at all by putting in the strongest speech of this year’s Republican convention, and was in Iowa — home of the first caucuses — last night.


Jeb Bush: Nominee 8/1, President 16/1
George W’s younger brother — the former Governor of Florida — has a close relationship with Rubio and so is unlikely to run against him. If Rubio passes on the race, though, Bush could be a strong competitor. He too has strong connections with the Hispanic community: his wife Columba is from Mexico, and he is popular among Florida’s Cuban Americans. He has also called for the GOP to be more moderate on immigration, a stance that would help him in the general election but might harm his chances of winning the nomination. If he does run, he’ll be hoping that — seven years after big brother left office — the Bush name will have lost some of its toxicity.

Chris Christie: Nominee 8/1, President 16/1
A couple of weeks ago, Politico reported that the New Jersey Governor had been Romney’s initial preference for VP before he settled on Ryan. His appeal was obvious: considered a ‘true conservative’ by the right, but with enough support among independents to be elected to run a Democrat-leaning state. But he might now find it hard to get through the Republican primaries, with many on the Republican right blaming him for hurting Romney by appearing with and praising Obama during their response to Hurricane Sandy. He also has a significant hurdle to clear next year, when he’ll be up for reelection in New Jersey. If he were to run for that and lose, it’d put a big dent in his ‘elecability’ credentials.

Bobby Jindal: Nominee 12/1, President 25/1
Jindal will complete his second and final term as Governor of Louisiana in January 2016, and is considered almost certain to make a run for the Presidency. As an Indian American, his candidacy would help the Republicans with their ‘all white’ image problem, and he has a consistently conservative record that shouldn’t be a problem with Republican primary voters. But his big outing on the national stage — providing the Republican response to Obama’s 2009 State of the Union — was a flop, with Jindal putting in a very awkward performance.

Condoleezza Rice: Nominee 12/1, President 25/1
The former Secretary of State to George W Bush was very briefly the subject of a flurry of VP speculation in July. After that died down, she sparked talk of a 2016 bid by alluding to the possibility of her becoming President in her speech at the Republican convention. Having previously described herself as ‘mildly pro-choice’, she may struggle to make it through the Republican primaries if she does run, and her involvement in Bush-administration foreign policy won’t help either. But she might be seen as a good chance for the GOP to improve its standing among both women and African Americans.


Hillary Clinton: Nominee 3/1, President 5/1
Hillary finds herself in the same position as she did after the 2004 election: the early favourite, for both the Democratic nomination and the Presidency itself. Of course, we all know how it turned out back then, but she has acquitted herself well as Secretary of State and has much better favourability ratings than she did eight years ago. And crucially, whereas many Democrats saw Bill as a liability in 2006 (prompting some to implore Obama to run against Hillary), he has re-established himself in the last few months as one of their strongest electoral assets. With no Obama-type star on the horizon, it’d be hard to see any other Democrat stopping Hillary if she decides to run.

Joe Biden: Nominee 8/1, President 16/1
The Vice President will be 73 in 2016, so if he did run he’d be aiming to be the oldest person ever elected President. But he has hinted at the possibility: when asked on election day if it would be the last time he voted for himself, he said ‘No, I don’t think so.’ And, defending Obamacare to a Republican, he joked ‘And after it’s all over, when your insurance rates go down, then you’ll vote for me in 2016.’

Andrew Cuomo: Nominee 12/1, President 25/1
Mario Cuomo was Governor of New York from 1983 to 1994 and the subject of Presidential speculation in 1988 and 1992. Now his son Andrew — elected Governor of New York in 2010 — finds himself in the same position. If neither Clinton nor Biden decide to run, Cuomo would start as frontrunner for the nomination. He has the high-profile office, the proven fundraising ability and the star name to make him a strong candidate — and is a hero among the LGBT community, having successfully pushed for the legalisation of same-sex marriage in his state.

Martin O’Malley: Nominee 12/1, President 25/1
The Maryland Governor has used his position as chair of the Democratic Governors Association to raise his national profile, appearing regularly on the political talk shows, and has his own Political Action Committee: the O’ Say Can You See PAC. Like Cuomo, he’s successfully pushed through same sex marriage legislation in his state. Of the potential Democratic candidates, he seems to be the closest to throwing his hat into the ring.

Elizabeth Warren: Nominee 20/1, President 33/1
Having only won her first elected for the first time last week, the Senator-Elect from Massachusetts will have just three years of experience in Congress in 2016. But then that’s just as much as Obama had in 2008, and Warren has plenty of other experience of the federal government. She headed the oversight panel of the Troubled Asset Relief Program after the financial crash, and then set up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2011. The Harvard Law Professor proved a very strong fundraiser in her Senate race this year — she had taken in $38.8 million by mid-October — and is very popular among liberals, but so far has said she won’t be running for President in 2016.

Having won the popular vote in five of the last six elections, the Democrats are considered the slight early favourites to hold the White House in 2016 (Ladbrokes odds: 4/5 against). But it’s perhaps worth noting that the four favourites for the Republican nomination are from important swing states (Wisconsin and Florida) or potential swing states (New Jersey), whereas none of the five Democratic favourites are.

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  • swatantra

    For me its got to be Condeleeza or Bobby Jindal for the Republicans, and Cuomo or Liz Warren for the Democrats. The others are old hat and spent, with little new to offer.

  • commonsenseobserver

    Christie considered a true Conservative? Which “right” have you been listening to?

    But even before Sandy, he was already out of favour in Boston. The man’s ego is even bigger than his size, something someone like Mitt would instinctively shun.

  • M. Wenzl

    This is meaningless.

  • the viceroy’s gin

    Had to quit reading the Speccie teenager’s blather when I came to the claim that US conservatives view Chris Christie as a “true conservative”. Hard to write about US politics when you know nothing about them, as that statement indicates.

    FYI, lad, US conservatives view Chris Christie as a bloated East Coast bag of RINO gas. Here’s a visual for you: Picture Christie as a plump observation balloon, and conservatives as a Sopwith Camel, streaking in with Vickers blazing, sending that balloon up in flames. That’s what primary 2016 will look like, if poor Chris Christie gets into it.

    The RINOs had their fun with Willard, and I doubt the primary voters will go that route again, as a Christie or Bush nomination would bring on. Both will be liquidated by the Tea Party, is my suspicion. They’ll go for an early kill, after watching Willard bury all opposition with negative spending this time through. Look for both to be slowly and methodically besmirched, disparaged and negated over the next 2-3 years. Christie may get whacked come his reelection, in fact, unless he flees office as Willard did in Massachusetts.

    I’d certainly bet the field against the 4 photographs in the Speccie teenager’s blogpost. It will be difficult for a lefty candidate, any lefty candidate, to win in 2016. The Left obviously won’t select Slow Joe the embarrassment, and not even Hillary has much of a shot for them, no matter her political power. The office just always seems to turn over after 8 years, that’s just the yin and yang of it. Certainly, no hard leftist will be able to win, not after Obama. Only Hillary could posture as a change agent, and even that has little chance of succeeding.

    Sitting members of Congress only rarely get elected to the White House. Obama managed it, but his 2 prime opponents were both sitting members of Congress, so that only partially broke the rule. Ryan and Rubio won’t likely be breaking it then, and they aren’t shoo-ins for the nomination in any event. Ryan’s VP nomination only came as Willard was struggling to solidify his deeply suspicious base voters, and he had to select accordingly. And Rubio is viewed with deep suspicion by many conservatives. I highly doubt either of those 2 will get through.

    Look for a Midwest governor, and not the fake Midwest governor that was Willard the Mittens.

  • Curnonsky

    The brewing storms of war in the Middle East and the Obamacare-caused economic collapse of 2014 might shake up the odds just a bit.

  • James Strong

    Nobody knows or can know at this stage. This is a ‘known unknown’ and betting on this is just a way to give the bookies money. Not a wise course of action.

  • HooksLaw

    Interesting, given the claim that the Republicans have an ‘all white’ image problem, that 4 of 5 proposed Republican nominees have ethnic links. None of the Democrats have.

    • David Lindsay

      That depends what you mean by “ethnic” (and “ethnic links” is one of the oddest terms that I have ever read). Biden, Cuomo and O’Malley are all “ethnic” as that word used to be used. But the main point is that those “links”, as you put it, while not the only reason why each of them will never in fact be the Republican nominee, are nevertheless very near the top of the list.

      Both of these are just wish lists, anyway. Bush is the only one with any realistic hope of the Republican nomination, and unless you discount Biden’s age none at all of these Democrats could ever be nominated. In one case, that has already been proved.

  • David Lindsay

    Ryan is very badly damaged goods. Rubio is untouchably Hispanic to the base, but the wrong sort of Hispanic to most of the target electorate, Cubans being very much a thing apart. Without either Richard Nixon or one of the Bushes on the ticket, the GOP has not won the Presidency since 1928, so who knows about Jeb? Although, again, having an appeal to Hispanics may be how to win the general election, but it is exactly how to lose the Republican nomination.

    Christie is in favour of gun control, and in general cannot be all that “conservative” if he can win New Jersey; no wonder that he backed Romney. Jindal is too liberal even for people who managed to convince themselves that Romney wasn’t. Rice is pro-abortion and was at the heart of Dubya’s foreign policy. Neither being pro-abortion even to the point of profiting from it personally, nor holding foreign policy views that made Dubya’s look positively sane, counted against Romney in the end among GOP primary voters, although both did with the wider electorate. But unlike Rice, or indeed Jindal, Romney was … well, I really don’t need to spell it out, do I?

    Passing over Clinton as tactfully, and therefore as briefly, as possible, Biden will probably decide that he is too old, or have that decided for him. Cuomo and O’Malley, despite classic “white ethnic” backgrounds, are unsaleable to one of the Democratic Party’s two majorities, namely Bobby Kennedy’s socially conservative black-blue one, well to the left economically, rather than George McGovern’s liberals-and-minorities one, often more than comfortable with and from unbridled capitalism; the party cannot really lose with both, but it certainly cannot win without both. Cuomo or O’Malley as a running mate might be all right, though. And Warren is if anything an even tougher sell to the black-blues, as well as having far too much, of far too much importance, to be getting on with where she already is.

    All in all, it will be Bush and Biden, if anyone, from this list. But it probably won’t be any of them. How long have people been talking about (this) Bush and (this) Clinton? Such speculation is the kiss of death.

  • Jupiter
  • Unenlightened_Commentary

    I think any consideration of the GOP field has to look at all the governors they have now.

    Bob McDonnell of Virginia, Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania, John Kasich of Ohio, Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Suzanne Martinez of New Mexico are all reasonably popular governors of large or medium sized swing states. Senator Portman of Ohio is also pretty plausible as a nominee.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Yes, historical electoral success says it should be a governor, and best if it’s a Midwest governor. Walker is the best choice, as of now.

  • Wilhelm

    Pat Buchanan has said ” the party is over for whites in America ” Ann Coulter has said the same thing. America in 1980 was 88 % white, now it’s down to 72 % white. In Europe, every country, the white birth rates are collapsing.

    The population of Africa is 800 million, it’s set to rise to 2 Billion by 2050, the continent can not sustain this population as it is, where will they go ? Europe, this will be a game changer. European countries will become majority black in the next 50 years.

  • hyufd

    Don’t ignore Mike Huckabee either. The GOP tend to pick the next in line and along with Romney he was runner-up to McCain in 2008. He also won Iowa in 2008 and if he runs again a recent poll had him winning it in 2016 too, if he wins there he likely wins South Carolina too and the nomination!

    • John Jefferson Burns

      Check out some of Mario Rubio from Tampa, August gone:

      “You know, before I begin — yes, thank you — before I

      being, this is such an important night for my country. I want

      to begin — with your permission — 80 seconds, to talk about

      another country. A country located just a few hundred miles

      away from this city, the country of my parents birth.

      There is no freedom or liberty in Cuba, and tonight, I ask

      for your prayers that soon freedom and liberty will be there as


      I watched my first convention in 1980 with my grandfather.

      My grandfather was born to a farming family in rural Cuba.

      Childhood polio left him permanently disabled. Because he

      couldn’t work the farm, his family sent him to school. He was

      the only one in his family that knew how to read. He was a huge

      influence on the growing up. As a boy, I sat on the porch of my

      house and listen to his stories about history and politics and

      baseball, as he would talk on one of its three daily (inaudible)

      cigars. Now, I don’t remember, it has been three decades since

      we last sat on that porch. I don’t rember all the things he

      talked to me about. But the one thing I rember is the one thing

      he wanted me never to forget. That the dreams he had when he

      was young became impossible to achieve . But there was no limit

      to how far I could go, because I was an American.

      Now for those of us — here’s why I say that — here’s why

      I say that. Because for those of us who were born and raised in

      this country, sometimes it becomes easy to forget how special

      America is. But my grandfather understood how different America

      was from the rest of the world because he knew life outside


      • John Jefferson Burns

        Or even(Introducing Mitt):

        “The story of our time will be written by Americans who

        haven’t yet even been born. Let us make sure the right that we

        did our part. That, in the early years of this new century, we

        lived in an uncertain time, but we did not allow fear to make us

        abandon what made us special.

        We chose more government instead of more freedom. We chose

        the principles of our founding to solve the challenges of our

        time. We chose a special man to lead us In a special time. We

        chose Mitt Romney to lead our nation and, because we did, the

        American miracle lived on for another generation to inherit.”

        So Romney was flawed-Mario Rubio is not.

    • David Lindsay

      Economically one of the most left-wing governors in American history. Against abortion and same-sex “marriage” while in favour of Second Amendment rights, but views like that would never have precluded service at any level below the White House as the Democrat as which he is just young enough to have started out and which his economic record (not always his more recent rhetoric, but undeniably his record) would naturally make him.

      His treatment by the GOP has repeatedly demonstrated that his constituency might as well go home; go back to being socially conservative, mostly Southern Democrats, but without the old race thing. If he is not nominated in 2016, which I don’t think that he will be, then that message will be deafening and unanswerable. But if he is nominated, then the Republican Party will have given up on what calls itself “fiscal conservatism”, from which his record could not be more further removed.

      That is why he won’t be nominated. That, and his genuine, serious opposition to abortion and to same-sex “marriage”. He really and truly means it. The GOP cannot be having any of that. Oh, no. Oh no, indeed.

      • hyufd

        He has also backed a ‘fair tax’ to try and make amends with the fiscally conservative right. On social issues he has in the past said he would accept civil unions although not gay marriage. In Arkansas he won many black votes so would have more appeal to ethnic minorities it would seem than Romney-Ryan. Who has he got to beat in 2016? Ryan? The last defeated VP candidare to win the nomination, as stated, was Mondale and he actually was VP for 4 years. Jeb Bush? The Bush name is still toxic and he won’t run and has handed the mantle to his sone George P. Rubio? Too inexperienced, lacks gravitas and too hard right for much of the nation as a whole, Huckabee has more appeal to independents and I doubt the GOP is yet ready for a Hispanic at the top. I doubt he would win Iowa or NH either and Florida comes later in the cycle which hits him, the same applies to Jindal. No, for ne 2016 is between Huckabee and Christie for the GOP, Huckabee winning Iowa, Christie NH, then Huckabee taking South Carolina to effectively seal the nomination!

        • the viceroy’s gin

          Yes, Huckabee could be a formidable candidate, but Willard threatened him with character assassination this time through, and somebody else would do the same next time.

          It’s early, and I suspect Huckabee will wait for the others to self destruct, then assess his chances. If he’s got a shot, he’ll brave the character assassination and go for it, I’m sure. It will take a candidate something like Huckabee to crack the Midwest, and the Midwest is where it’s at, as the Tea Party showed in 2010, and even this cycle to some extent. Willard got blown out in the Midwest, and never had a shot at winning because of it.

          • John Jefferson Burns

            Huckabee is an attractive preacherman but prone to gaffes
            Last time he referred to President Barack Obama’s boyhood in Kenya. It was a mistake; a spokesman said Huckabee should have said Indonesia.

            Then Huckabee took on Hollywood and out-of-wedlock pregnancy. “One of the things that is troubling,” he said, “is that people see a Natalie Portman or some other Hollywood starlet who boasts of, `Hey look, we’re having children. We’re not married, but we’re having these children, and they’re doing just fine.'”

            Verbal miscues are nothing new for this preacherman who now hosts a radio show and a weekly Fox News Channel program. He’s the first to admit that his mouth sometimes gets him in trouble – and probably will again.

            As a Southern Baptist he believes in hellfire and that Democrats will be consigned to eternity to hell

            • the viceroy’s gin

              His mouth gets him into trouble with hard leftists, mostly. It won’t hurt him much with the mainstream, which definitely sees problems with +40% of children born out of wedlock.

              His real problem is that while he’s a strong social conservative, he’s a mite weaker on fiscal conservatism, and doesn’t subscribe to the limited government tendencies of the Tea Party. Because he’d run strong in the Midwest, he could win a general election arguably, but it’s unclear whether he can win the nomination.

  • Earlshill

    I think the Republican nomination will be Ryan’s to lose; his support amongst the grassroots is rock solid. Cuomo is much more media savvy and friendly than Clinton and will have the Democrat activists on his side. And Ryan will win the election, because by 2016 the costs of Medicare and Medicaid will be bankrupting the US government.

    • David Lindsay

      People do not vote to abolish their own entitlements, however much they might complain about the specifics. Everyone in Britain moans about the NHS, but no one can imagine life without it, and that became the case almost immediately after it was created. The Conservatives were back in office in 1951, when the NHS was not only very new but also almost bankrupt. They made absolutely no attempt to change it, and would not have been back in office if they had ever suggested doing so.

      The GOP nominee will be one of the many Republican figures who would have been all for ObamaCare if anyone else, except perhaps the Clintons, had proposed it. In that event, a dozen or more Senate Republicans, for a start, would have voted for it. Easily that number would vote against repeal once it was up and running, as it will in four years’ time. Romney, whose view that undeniably is, should have waited another four years.

      Don’t be surprised if the Republican promise in 2016 is expansion, or the public option, or even a British/Canadian-style single payer system, previously endorsed by Donald Trump. That would be very Nixonian, after all. Both in terms of what he tried to do in his day, and on the principle that only Nixon could go to China. Such have things changed since then, that only a Republican could now get away with giving America an NHS. In 2016, or certainly in 2020, the Republican will propose just that. In which case, he might even win.

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