It is time to think about who's running, who's not, for president in 2016. I have found I am much better at predicting this (and many of the talking heads on tv are terrible at it, subject to the whim of every poll) than predicting who will be president. It's a parlor game, to which we can't attach a lot of importance. People, including me, just like to do it. Life, in the end, is too complicated to be sure of anything in politics. Who, two years ago, would factor ISIS into their calculations. Someone's health, a stupid comment, the wrong supporter, a scandal coming to light (true, false or in between) and a gajillion other factors, make it so. I remember in early 2008 thinking that no Democrat had a real good chance - not Hillary or Biden or Obama - followed by 8 years of Pres. Obama, of course. I have been wrong on both of the last two Presidential elections, but, to be fair to myself, I stick with my predictions even when they are clearly not going to win (although, that helped with the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl). I knew that Bush would win the second time, and Obama the last two a couple of months before the actual election, but the last two were not my early predictions (I was right about who would be the Republican nominee from the outset, but wrong that McCain and Romney would win the general election). But, in the last decade in particular, polls have become very accurate, at least some polls, and though the probabilities may be affected by a myriad of factors, at some point close to an election, when someone gets a head of steam, it becomes obvious, except to partisans on the wrong side. In any event, here's what I think about some people who have said they wanted to run.
Hillary Clinton - Usually, I call politicians by their last name, but, in her case, her "brand," and because her husband was president, I will call her Hillary (feel free to think it's because she is a woman and I am being condescending - I can't win these arguments).
You can find every kind of article about her. She's running, she's not running, she will win easily, she will get clobbered by so and so. Health aside, I think she will run and I think she will have a better than average chance to win, regardless of Obama's popularity at the time. First, she is the most famous woman in the world. Her time in the senate and as Secretary of State has made her personally popular with many politicians, even on the other side. She has an aura about her that is much tougher than Obama's. She can glam in on some of his better decisions, like calling the shot on bin Laden, and she will not be overly tarnished by the disaster in Benghazi, though, I think she ought to be, because the "investigation" into it cleared the administration (not much of an investigation - congress has never, years later, even gotten to interview any witnesses that were there or receive the tens of thousands of emails concerning it from the State department). She has learned to take much of the shrillness and grumpiness out of her personality that plagued her in 2008, when Obama seemed calm and refreshing compared to her. Of course, her husband is quite capable of ruining this for her with his mouth or . . . let's just say other body parts, but, that will have to be seen. She is aging and health issues could change everything at any time. She is a very calculating woman and despite her loss to Obama, she and her husband are both very good politicians. She will have no scruples about throwing Obama under the bus, if it is needed, at any time. And, gender politics could play a big role. In America, competence or even ideology doesn't seem as big a factor as cultural issues. Blacks were allowed to vote before women could vote; they were accepted in sports long before women sports were viewed by most everyone; they had a seat on the Supreme Court first; and now they have had a president first. People may see it as time for a woman and that will be deemed more important than anything else. The election, I think, is her to blow, everything else being equal.
Elizabeth Warren - She has been looked at for quite some time. She says she is not running. I see no reason to believe her if it looked like Hillary won't win. There was, a while back, a semi-scandal about whether or not this blue eyed blonde was part American-Indian as she claims. Actually, some Indian groups were complaining. Ironically, Harvard, ever the political institution now, listed her as a minority professor (why do we have such listings?) It was more a political and media football than anything else. Most people could care less. And, wouldn't a DNA test clear it up, anyway? She is a very liberal Democrat, but, they are a liberal party, and that would not hurt her in primaries.
Certainly, as she is from Massachusetts, she'd get a boost in the first primary in New Hampshire. My prediction is - if Hillary does not run, and (always saying - health and some unknown looming scandal, or the like, aside) she will run, whatever she says right now. And she will have a good shot.
Martin O'Malley - Who the hell is Martin O'Malley? Unless you follow politics closely or live in Maryland, you probably have no idea. But, he was a very popular mayor of Baltimore and then governor. He never lost an election for either. He is a social liberal with what looks like a good economic record, at least facially. It looks like he tried to manage crime, but without a lot of success. All these things are arguable, of course. He has pretty much made it clear he is interested in running, even if Hillary is, and he had been a big supporter of hers. I don't think he can compete with her and if she runs, I think he will eventually bow out, especially as he may not be able to raise money against her. He has a personality though. He sings, Celtic music, and has even acted a couple of times. He might actually have a good chance if she doesn't and the Democrat field opens up.
Jim Webb - This guy is sort of a mysterious figure in a way. I hate to say it but I kind of like that he can be a little grumpy, when I don't like it with others, because he carries it off well and does when I think he should. He's kind of the Bill Belichick of politics, though he looks more like Howdy Doody.
He has this aura as a strong foreign policy Democrat. His time in the Reagan administration in Defense and Navy and the fact that he is pro-gun rights could actually help him some with those who feel Democrats are soft. He's a vet at a time it is popular to be one, an author, a family man without major scandals (one about his PAC - his wife and daughter made a lot of money from it, which he claims they earned - I don't know - and one about his aide who was carrying Webb's gun for him), could be appealing to moderates, independents and, if there are any blue-dog Democrats left them. We haven't heard much from him lately. I think he is waiting to see if Hillary runs. Isn't everyone?
Bernie Sanders - The Senator from Vermont is an interesting man. He is technically an independent, but realistically a Democrat, and, if we had a viable socialist party, he'd be their nominee. I don't think he is the kind that wants the state to own your business, just the kind that wants them to run most everything else. Certainly he is empathetic and passionate and a good speaker. On the other hand, he's old, might even be 75 if elected. He might run, especially as he would have a very good shot in New Hampshire, but I do not think he would get very far after that.
Joe Biden - No. I think he must know that he is considered a joke by many people. Is there a possibility he might run? Yes, if Hillary doesn't, which is the answer to most questions about Democrats.
Jeb Bush - If he becomes the president, he will be part of the greatest political dynasty in our history. And, he has a good shot to be nominee. It's clear he is running and clear he has some support. He has weaknesses, of course, some because of "Bush fatigue," which might still be extant, and also because some people will not like the idea that we have a third president from any family.
He has, for Republican and especially Iowan politics, too lenient a stance on immigration. He tries to be a common sense nice guy, not a far right winger but also not a RINO (though I'm sure he will be called that before he is through). I do have two things against him. First, I think, though his brother legitimately won Florida in 2000, he may have had a thumb on the scale, even if he technically stepped aside when it became a controversy. That's pure speculation and possibly unfair. However, if you recall the Terry Schiavo affair (a women in a vegetative state whose ex-husband and responsible party said her wishes were not to be kept alive versus her parents and Jeb Bush disagreed vehemently), I thought he was a bully, who even threatened prosecution to get his way. Disagreement is fine, of course, but threats from a governor in a case like this are signs of something else. Here's an article which agrees with me, though the author's interviewee has probably more reason to be biased against Bush than anyone else - http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/01/jeb-bush-terri-schiavo-114730.html#.VUJUNMt0zmJ.
Rand Paul - He's been running for a long time. His strategy is interesting. He is trying to appeal to everyone based on libertarian ideas. The problem is, many people, both liberals and conservatives (but more so liberals), hate libertarian ideas. On the left, many believe government regulation is preferable to private ownership and decision making. The measles thingee is a good example. He's not saying don't innoculate. He's saying it is rightfully the parents decision. But, many, maybe most people don't want it to be the parents' choice because the measles is contagious. And on the right, though they are more likely to be libertarian, they are offended by libertarians not always sharing their religious values (and concluding, therefore, libertarians have none). Likely no pure libertarian could ever get elected president in our country for the foreseeable future (always famous last words). And, many people are also put off by Paul's non-interventionist foreign policy too. They want us actively involved in the world, including killing bad guys, though everyone would like us to do it more efficiently. However, he has been taking some more aggressive positions than his policies would seem to allow. Nevertheless, this is about whether he will run, and the answer is yes.
Chris Christie - He's hard to call. Last time he said no, then yes, then no VP for me, then okay to VP if you want me. This time he has showed interest, but I'm not sure how far he will push it. He has one, possibly two trips to Iowa coming up. Nothing is a bigger indicator, of course, particularly for Republicans, if you are a potential candidate. It comes down to this. If in another 6 months, he is doing well in the polls, say within 5-7 points of the leader and no less than third place, I'd think he will jump in. There are aspects of him that make me wonder if he is the bully the left portrays him as, but, I definitely prefer him to many.
Scott Walker - He is one of the more interesting candidates. When he was first elected governor of Wisconsin he aroused deep anger against him by challenging and defeating public unions by changing the collective bargaining process for them(whatever you think about modern unions, public unions are far worse as they are paid by you and I and there is often no government that plays the role of management, just a politician who would like union votes). He quickly rose to one of the most hated politicians on the right by the left but two years later became the only governor to ever win a recall election. He has been polling quite well recently among Republicans. I have a feeling about him. He's definitively conservative, but there also seems something about him that differs him from many other politicians in his group. I can't yet put my finger on why as it is a gut reaction. If nominated, he would no doubt arouse a strong reaction from unions and their supporters. My question here is will he run? Yes.
Ted Cruz - I don't know about him. He is testing the waters and he doesn't seem to care if anyone from moderate Republicans to Communist likes him. He may run, but if he does, he will not last past Iowa.
Marco Rubio - I think he's running. His problem with conservatives and many Republicans is his stand on immigration. However, the Republican Party is in a strange place, being far more diverse than the Democrats. Rubio does have some things going for him - a pleasant (if not overly exciting) personality, good looks, the support of some important Republicans (e.g., Paul Ryan, I believe and it appears the Koch Bros. and associates, which is real important). Why wouldn't he run? He's been thinking about it for a long time.
Bobby Jindal - I don't think so. His state has financial problems and he is just not charismatic in the least. I don't think he can raise money. I also don't know where he stands out among other Republicans other than some executive experience. My guess is he will go up to the water but won't jump in.
Mike Huckabee - He gives every indication of running by quitting his cushiony job with FoxNews, which he did not do last time. But he (and I) will change my mind quickly if like Romney, he finds trouble raising money. He had a nice run on FoxNews and striking out again in politics seems hard to understand. But, it looks like he will be there at the start, so long as he takes the fundraising seriously.
Rick Perry - He shouldn't run. I think he is too damaged by his last go at it when he embarrassed himself in debates and then by savaging Romney. Personally, I wouldn't vote for him as he has religion on the brain and makes statements that turn me off in that regard. However, I think he has the passion and maybe blindness to try again.
Rick Santorum - I don't know. He came in second after Romney so, you'd think that would put him in a good place. Yet, are there people talking about him? The media? Do you ever hear one of your friends to say I hope Santorum runs. In fact, we all know that he did well because he gathered up the Anyone-But-Romney votes after everyone else self-destructed. Still, he is another true believer, who ran last time even when he had almost no support at the beginning. Leaving aside that, I have to say yes based on his frequent visits to Iowa including a recent 5 day trip.
Sarah Palin - No. She just wants some attention.
There are benchmarks that can change everything like the Ames poll, poor fundraising and, of course, the actual Iowa caucuses, to name a few. These are just my very early picks. We'll see.