During the SOTU, the president laid out his vision for the next four years. However, politicos and pundits are already anticipating the electoral contest that will happen upon the completion of his second term. There are many questions to consider especially when the next Democratic Presidential Nominee is following President Obama. Among them is who has the best claim to the mantle of party leader? Also there is the question of how deep the cast of candidates are for 2016. There is also the role that the opposition plays in shaping public perceptions of the future nominee. Last but not least is whether the person who gets the job has the ability to keep the presidency in Democratic hands.
1. Claims To The Throne
Even in the Democratic Party, seniority and experience play a role in deciding the major players. The president’s victory over the powerful Clinton political organization is a modern miracle of politics, and repetition of such a phenomenon is rare and unlikely. So the first people to look at are the obvious suspects. This means Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden to start. Secretary Clinton was President Obama’s fiercest rival in the Democratic Primaries and ended up a key player on his cabinet. Her experience as a New York Senator, First Lady, and Secretary of State make her a strong candidate for taking up leadership of the Party. Joe Biden is another potential successor. Historical precedent points to vice presidents having a higher chance at getting the presidency than any other politician. Their job is to prepare for the event that the president can’t fulfill his duties. In addition, Joe Biden is one the of the most active vice presidents in recent memory, helping to shape economic policy, foreign affairs, and key domestic legislation like gun control. Combine that with his record as a Senate veteran, and it gives him a strong card entering 2016.
2. Will There Be A Deep Bench In 2016?
Another factor is how many serious contenders will appear for the 2015-2016 election season. There are already strong potential candidates including governors, senators, and representatives. Even as current speculation points to Secretary Clinton as the candidate to beat, several possible candidates like Senator Elizabeth Warren, Anne Klobuchar, Governor Cuomo, and Mayor Cory Booker show that serious, talented candidates exist. The real field will depend on whether these potential candidates choose to run two years from now.
3. How Republicans Define Front Runners
The 2016 Election will see Republican’s looking to weaken any strong candidates on the Democratic side. This means that a candidate who appears strong on paper gets taken down by a hidden scandal, controversial policy positions, or simple verbal gaffes. We already see the results of such mistakes with the reaction of Democrats to gaffes made by key figures during important moments such as the opposition response to the state of the Union. Interesting or compelling candidates like Jindal had presidential dreams killed by poor optics and other factors. The democratic nominee will be able to take these hits along with friendly fire from rivals in the primary process. A contender that can still keep going after such attacks and more importantly, preserve their own political narrative will win the nomination.
4. Can The Potential Nominee Keep The White House In Democratic Hands?
The big question of 2008 was if candidates were ready from day one. The new question may be whether the candidate is strong enough to protect the President’s electoral legacy. This will mean looking at which candidate is the best at preserving the electoral coalition built by President Obama and his now legendary campaign organization over two major election cycles. The candidate that best answers this question will have the strongest chance to become the Democratic Party’s Presidential Nominee.