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Who is leading the pack?

May 19, 2015

If you are a political observer, there is a lot to observe this time around. With just under three months or so before the first debates, what’s the starting line-up looking like?

You have an Democratic candidate whose best claim to fame with 2016 voters is that she was broke upon leaving the White House. We should all be so broke. Given her propensity for secrecy, even her backers have to be wondering what she’s hiding from them and how loyal she will be if one of their ideological rivals raises the pot with a bigger bet.

Her most likely Democratic opponents have to hope that the cumulative effect of the nearly weekly revelations regarding her professional conduct and personal integrity will be enough to give them a realistic shot at the job. Given that the DNC is still solidly behind her, it’s probable that none of them are holding their breath this early in the game. At best, they may have to settle for being her straight man during the debate season and hope for an implosion. At worst, they’re only going to be there to help her get her campaign messaging skills back up to snuff.

You have a hodgepodge of Republican candidates who each seem to have a piece of the job description covered, but no one that seems to pull all the ends together.

Jeb Bush still gives the impression that he was a reluctant draftee to the race. A sense of duty is a wonderful attribute, but it makes for a very bland candidate if that’s the only reason he’s running. It also leads to the type of verbal miscue that he made in the now infamous Megyn Kelly interview, where he was clearly answered the question according to a preset list of questions he thought he would be asked, rather than listening to the actual question. It left the impression that he is on autopilot at this stage of the race. Still, he is the only one right now with the financial moxie to counter the Clinton campaign.

Marco Rubio, who at this early juncture seems to have the most pieces of the voter interest puzzle in hand, still has to overcome the ” we don’t need another first-term senator in the White House” argument from within his own party. It remains to be seen if he can turn that into a positive. Given that the two anointed frontrunners have been in politics long enough to be old news, his supposed handicap could turn into a plus.

Scott Walker has the same handicap as many other sitting governors will have, namely that he still has a state to run. Since 1960, three sitting governors (Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush)  have managed to win the top political prize with that handicap, so it isn’t insurmountable. Given that he has a lot of enemies at home, it does mean that he has to watch his back on two fronts. What he does seem to have is a strong work ethic, middle America values and the ability to recognize that he doesn’t know it all.

Carly Fiorina seems to have already been pigeon-holed by the usual media suspects as the token anti-Clinton female and will have to work hard to break free of that stereotype. There is some doubt that she can take her executive and boardroom experience and sell it across mainstream voter demographic lines.

The rest of the pack is still struggling to come up with a message that works across all demographic borders. While most seem to be sincere and highly principled, their appeal tends to be narrowly focused to one voter profile. That leads one to wonder if they will simply add another plank to the party platform in July of 2016.

It should be an interesting summer.

From → op-ed

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