Almost everyday now, a new individual is mentioned as someone considering a potential run for president in 2016. The latest to be attracting some attention are two big state Republican governors both named Rick. Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Michigan state chief executive Rick Snyder are reportedly floating national trial balloons, testing whether they might be viable GOP presidential candidates next year.
Though both are clearly considered long shot candidates at best, they do have several key obvious positives. First, they are governors, which has historically been the best office from which to successfully run for the White House. Second, if either were to capture the nomination, their home states should give them a key boost on the general election map, particularly in Gov. Scott’s case because a Republican realistically cannot win a presidential election without carrying Florida. Third, both have a fundraising base that could quickly reach national proportions.
But, both Scott and Snyder also possess clear negatives. Though they won re-election to a second term last month in their respective competitive states, neither did so impressively. Florida being the quintessential swing domain always yields a close race, but Scott’s 48-47 percent victory margin, virtually identical to his 49-48 percent win four years ago over then-Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink (D), should have been stronger against an opponent such as Charlie Crist who was basically destroyed in his ill-fated 2010 senatorial run. Though ex-Gov. Crist is universally known in the state, his political career has now led him to being forced out of the Republican Party while a sitting governor, and losing elections as both an Independent and a Democrat.
Gov. Snyder, while leading in polling for almost the entire election cycle, scored a rather tepid 51-47 percent win over a weak Democratic opponent. Though running in what is usually a reliably Democratic state, Gov. Snyder’s re-election victory margin was as many as four points under what was originally projected.
Despite having the potential of commanding a lion’s share of delegates from large and important states in the Republican nomination system, governors Scott and Snyder are unlikely candidates who, even if they do run, will have an uphill climb to reach the top tier. While we can expect some unusual happenings to occur in Campaign 2016, it is hard to envision a scenario that yields a nomination victory for either man.
As many as 26 men and women have now been mentioned as potential Republican presidential contenders, with six on the Democratic side. The GOP field contains many names of people who won’t run, but beginning the Iowa Caucuses campaign next year with 10 or more substantial candidates vying for the nomination is well within the realm of possibility.
For the Democrats, though former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Clinton clearly leads in the polling, she is far weaker than at a commensurate point in 2007. In the early part of her 2008 open run for president, she was viewed as the “inevitable” Democratic nominee, but would of course eventually lose to an individual who was a member of the Illinois state Senate just four years before running for president.
Though Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) feigns not to be interested in running nationally, she is making moves like a candidate, and finds people from organizations such as Moveon.org now beginning to organize independently on her behalf. It is clear, at least in this early going, that Clinton’s biggest threat is not Vice President Joe Biden, but will instead come from her left in the person of Sen. Warren who sways the base loyalty of individuals who comprised the Obama organization that toppled her seven years ago.
While more action will occur on the Republican side because of the sheer number of potential serious candidates involved, the Democratic battle is also far from being secure.