A 2016 Preview: Meeting the Candidates

by Ben Greenberg

Way back in January 2014, I began to create profiles for the Republican candidates likeliest to contend for their party’s nomination in 2016. At the time, I tried to assess each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. Yes, I know; that was just one year after the 2012 presidential election and almost a full three years before the next one. And yes, people like me should probably be institutionalized.

But now, two years later, with the 2014 midterm elections finally in the rearview mirror (thank goodness!) and with at least one Republican announcing their intention to form an exploratory committee every single day, it seems like the right time to revisit this conversation. It feels like every four years the presidential election cycle begins a bit earlier each time and 2016 is proving to be no exception.

With almost another two years still to go, nearly two dozen Republicans have already expressed interest in running. Already, more than a dozen candidates have SuperPACs raising money on their behalf. And by all accounts, an unprecedented number of Republicans will seek their party’s nomination in 2016 (there are number of reasons for this, which will hopefully come up at some point this semester). So—perhaps with the exception of a handful of degenerates like myself—keeping track of all these candidates will prove difficult for even the most politically interested of Americans. My hope is that posting these profiles will help make following the 2016 election cycle easier for those interested in doing so.

Hopefully these profiles will help distinguish the true contenders from the pretenders—not everyone who enters the race has a chance of becoming the Republican nominee in 2016—so I will also try to explain which factors make one candidate more formidable than another.

Over the next twelve weeks, the ten Republicans most likely to win the Republican nomination in 2016 will be profiled. Yes twelve weeks, not ten. In those first ten weeks, we will be focusing on a single candidate each week. Week eleven will be devoted to “the best of the rest.” It will highlight a few politicians who currently have little or no chance to win, but might still be worth paying attention to. Week twelve will take a step back to examine what has changed in those three months. Week twelve will also be an opportunity to make some predictions about what to expect going forward.

From time-to-time, the Democratic primary process may come up too, especially if it looks like a serious Democrat will challenge Hillary Clinton, but it will not be the focus of this series. One final note: I am not a political expert, I cannot predict the future, and my analysis is by no means definitive. I will do my best to inform and persuade, but ultimately I want to start a conversation, so I not only welcome your feedback (comments and questions, positive or negative, agree or disagree), I encourage it.

Now, some people will ask, “Why follow the Republican primary process at all?” It is a fair question and I’ll do my best to answer it in the only way I know how to—by mixing lame attempts at humor with some seriousness. Forgive me; I won’t make a habit out of this. Since David Letterman is retiring soon, I’m sure he won’t mind if I “borrow” this; here are the top ten reasons why you should care about the 2016 Republican primary!

  1. Makes for great conversation at parties. “Did you know Rick Santorum was in a fraternity too?!?!?!?!?!”
  2. You’ll get to revel in the stupidity. If you thought the “self-deportation”, “the 47 percent”, and the “legitimate rape” gaffes were bad enough (http://theweek.com/articles/469666/9-worst-political-gaffes-2012) just wait until you get to hear what this group of Republicans has to say.
  3. It will be entertaining! Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz. Need I say more?
  4. You’ll learn significantly more about Iowa and New Hampshire than you ever wanted to. Which will undoubtedly prove useful when you graduate from UD and become a farmer or a recluse and move to Iowa or New Hampshire (I hope no one reading this is from Iowa and New Hampshire!).
  5. Infighting is fun (especially when it’s the other party doing it!).This nomination process will not only feature the Republican establishment fighting their party’s right-wing—the “Tea Party” conservatives—for control of the Republican Party—it will also provide a unique opportunity to witness fiscal, social, constitutional, and neo conservatives fight amongst themselves.
  6. You’ll be able to fill out my amazing the Republican primary edition (no don’t worry I haven’t made any others…yet) of my superlative prediction list (see below).
  7. You’ll learn a lot. Let’s move on before I regret including this one.
  8. Being exposed to opposing viewpoints is a good thing. God another boring reason! I hope the next two are better!
  9. Who the Republicans choose might just impact your life. I know you’re thinking, “but Hillary Clinton is going to win in a landslide in 2016!” I hope you’re right but on the off chance one of these guys end up winning…
  10. To know them is to defeat them. Sometimes getting to know your opponents and their viewpoints on issues you care about can help to reinforce your own views. And you’ll be better equipped to defend your own beliefs if challenged.


I bet you didn’t think I could come up with ten reasons did you?


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2016 Superlatives


  • Most likely to leave the race in disgrace award? AKA: The Herman Cain Award.
  • Most likely to be found selling reverse mortgages in 2018? AKA: The Fred Thompson/ Mr. Irrelevant Award.
  • Most likely to say something so terrible and mind-bogglingly stupid that it could cost them the election? AKA: The Mitt Romney Forty-Seven percent award.
  • Most likely to not even bother to campaign in Iowa (yes that was an actual campaign strategy; I don’t think I need to tell you how it worked out)? AKA: The Rudy Giuliani Award.
  • Most likely to move to Iowa in 2014 to get a head start? AKA: The Rick Santorum Award.
  • Most likely to see their entire campaign staff resign in protest (possibly when the candidate takes a vacation to Greece during primary season)? AKA: The Newt Gingrich Award.
  • Most likely to be a prohibitive favorite until they open their mouth? AKA: The Rick Perry “oops” award
  • Most likely to win the meaningless Iowa Straw Poll, get some media attention, and then receive less than one percent of the vote in the Iowa Caucus, drop out, nearly lose their House seat, and then retire from congress? AKA: The Michelle Bachman (or maybe the Sarah Palin award; I forget) award.
  • Most likely to enter the race and then run a campaign that does not last a month (Mitt Romney is the early clubhouse leader at three weeks)?


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