Sabato's Crystal Ball

2016 Republican Presidential Watch

Updated March 20, 2014

First Tier
Candidate Key Advantages Key Disadvantages Since Last Update
Jeb Bush
Ex-Governor, FL
•Strong gubernatorial resume
•Hispanic connections
•Key swing state
•National Bush money and organization
•Wrong last name (Bush dynasty) — although Clinton dynasty could neutralize this
•George W. Bush’s record?
•Does he actually want to run?
Scott Walker
Governor, WI
•Midwest GOP gov. in Obama state
•Heroic conservative credentials
•Shown political durability
•Too bland? Next Pawlenty?
•Do lingering scandals hurt him?
•No college degree
Rand Paul
Senator, KY
•Tea Party favorite
•Strong support from libertarian GOP wing
•National ID and fundraising network
•Too dovish/eclectic for GOP tastes?
•Association with out-of-mainstream father
•Plagiarism questions
Chris Christie Governor, NJ •Dynamic speaker
•Shown ability to pursue mainly conservative agenda in Blue state
•Could bridge criticism by media rally the right?
•Bridge scandal still playing out
•Bullying and out-of-control-staff questions
•Not conservative enough for base?
Second Tier
Marco Rubio
Senator, FL
•Dynamic speaker and politician
•From most electorally valuable swing state
•Future tough votes in Senate; has and will have federal record
•Did his national star peak too soon?
•Could he really deliver more Hispanic votes?
Ted Cruz
Senator, TX
•Tea Party favorite with voting record to match
•Texas and small dollar fundraising
•Dynamic speaker
•Anti-establishment nature plays well with base
•Tea Party favorite
•Too extreme? One word: Shutdown.
•Disliked on both sides of the Senate aisle
John Kasich
Governor, OH
•Swing state
•Long conservative record
•Could be fallback for GOP establishment forces
•Supported Medicaid expansion
•Makes verbal miscues, lots of video from time as Fox host
•Abrasive personality
Wild Cards?
Paul Ryan
Representative, WI
•2012 VP candidate — next in line?
•General election experience
•Strong conservative record
•May not want to run, possibly positioning self for future in House
•Not a dynamic campaigner
Mike Huckabee
Ex-Governor, AR
•Extensive governing experience
•Already vetted
•Blue collar appeal
•Strong support from social conservatives
•Southerner in Southern-centered party
•Too narrow appeal within party?
•Disliked by economic conservatives
•Small fundraising base
Rob Portman
Senator, OH
•Very well qualified; vast government experience
•From key swing state
•Supports same-sex marriage
•More insider than leading man
•Crowded out by fellow Ohioan Kasich?
•Supports same-sex marriage
Susana Martinez
Governor, NM
•Diversity in party sorely in need of it
• Electoral success in Blue state
• Compelling life story/record
•Pro-Medicaid expansion
•Unvetted nationally
•Frequently disavows interest in running
Rick Santorum
Ex-Senator, PA
•Strong support from social conservatives
•2nd place finisher in ‘12 — next in line?
•Been around primary track
•Harder to stand out in stronger 2016 field
•Lost last Senate race by 17%
•Chip-on-shoulder attitude
Rick Perry
Governor, TX
•Showing clear improvement as a candidate — “second chance” mentality
•Strong conservative credentials
•Texas fundraising
•Extensive executive experience
•Ran very poor 2012 race
•More “Texas” in a nation that is not as conservative as the Lone Star State
•“Oops,” we forgot the rest

2016 Democratic Presidential Watch

First Tier
Candidate Key Advantages Key Disadvantages Since Last Update
Hillary Clinton

Ex-Secretary of State
•High national popularity and within party
•Woman: chance to make history
•Can potentially scare away most/all strong opponents if she runs (unlike ‘08)

•Age (69 by Election Day ‘16)
•Ran unfocused, too-many-cooks ‘08 campaign and now appears to be making similar early mistakes
•Keeping Bill in check — and on the porch
•Peaking too soon? Already dominating headlines day after day

Second Tier
Joe Biden
Vice President
•Vast experience
•Next in line?
•VP bully pulpit
•Age (already 71)
•Gaffe machine
•Poor presidential campaign history
Third Tier
Martin O’Malley
Governor, MD
•Willing and very available
•Strong liberal record and policy achievements
•Baltimore/Maryland baggage
•Nationally unknown
•Maryland Obamacare troubles
Brian Schweitzer
Ex-Governor, MT
•Unique populist personality
•Very popular Dem in Red state
•Unique personality
•Too unpredictable?
•Too conservative on guns, environment?
Would Only Run If Clinton Doesn’t
Elizabeth Warren
Senator, MA
•Adored by Dem activists
•Woman — same history-making potential as Clinton
•National ID and fundraising network
•Electable in a general election? Ran several points behind Obama in ‘12
•’12 campaign baggage
•Another Bay State Dem?
Andrew Cuomo
Governor, NY
•Very popular at home
•Impressive policy record already
•State/Fed. experience
•Too conventional?
•Some liberals unhappy
•Another Northeasterner?
Mark Warner
Senator, VA
•Strong executive record
•Key swing state
•Crossover appeal/ bipartisanship theme
•Rich and well-financed
•Too moderate?
•No national constituency
•Not a dynamic speaker
Kirsten Gillibrand
Senator, NY
•Woman — same history-making potential as Clinton
•Fairly strong liberal record
•NY fundraising base
•Bland persona
•Nationally unknown
•Past NRA support?
Wild Card?
Howard Dean
Ex-Governor, VT
•Could attract grassroots support
•Former DNC chair, can raise money
•Yesterday’s news?

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