Posted by: sweeneyblog | December 29, 2013

Reassessing my 2016 Presidential Predictions

One of the most read articles on my blog last year was the 2016 presidential predictions I made right after President Obama’s reelection. A year has gone by, and we are about to begin the pre-pre-season of presidential politics, where “important people” make “big announcements,” so I figured we were due for an update on the field. Note: this is a long post so gird your help-laced loins and dig in.

The Democratic Candidates

The big fish here is obviously former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She is leading all polls, mainly based on name recognition, and has access to some of the finest minds in Democratic politics. I’ve contended that she is not running for president, but here is the breakdown:

Hillary Clinton mocks those who say that Benghazi would slow her down as being "really stupid"

Madam Secretary

Why she is running: Her associated PAC, Ready for Hillary, is already raising money and she has openly said she is considering it. If she runs, she has a pretty strong path to victory, with polls showing her competitive in red states like Texas and Tennessee.
Why she is not running: Health and legacy. Her (and Bill’s) health has been spotty over the last four years and the intense grind of a presidential campaign might not leave much left of her to sit in the Oval Office. The other reason is legacy. Right now, she would end her career as a successful senator and influential secretary of state. If she shoots for the presidency and falls short, she goes down in history as the two-time failed “woman” candidate.
My Prediction: Hillary takes the money she has raised and endorses one of the kick-ass women farther down on this list. She campaigns to get that woman elected and then spends the rest of her years helping women around the world through the Clinton foundation.

Obviously I could have gotten a real picture of Joe Biden but come on, the guy was born to be a Leslie Neilson character

Clearly, a picture of Joe Biden

What about Joe Biden? Usually, the vice president tops everyone’s list for potential candidates, but I remain skeptical at best. While Biden has expressed interest in running, I believe he is doing what he does best, being an awesome team player. I think his interest is just a smoke screen so the other candidates can put together their teams in relative obscurity.
Why he is not running: Similar to Hillary, Biden is nearing the end of his political career with some great successes under his belt. I think the only thing left that he really craves is becoming secretary of state. He was the chair of the foreign relations committee in the Senate and loves the art of diplomacy.
My Prediction: The Biden endorsement serves as an early tip-off as to whom the Obama administration supports in the primary. After a few years as a private citizen, Biden resurfaces in the cabinet of a future Democratic administration.

So, if not them, then who?

Not to diminish the accomplishments of Sen. Gillebrand in any way.

Sen. Kirsten Gillebrand

Kirsten Gillibrand, the junior senator from New York, is a good place to start. This former congresswoman, now senator, has made a name for herself as a crusader against sexual assault in the military, often getting into public rows with her fellow Democratic senators to bring this issue forward.
Strengths: She’s media savvy, relatively moderate (for New York) and has some national name recognition.
Weaknesses: She was the number one recipient of Goldman Sachs funds of all congresspeople in 2011-2012. JP Morgan Chase has helped fund her campaigns over the last five years and I believe that 2016 will be fought over income inequality. Being in the bankers’ pockets will definitely hurt her.

Gov. Martin O'Malley was actually assembled from a Kmart "construct-a-candidate" kit. This is a deeply held secret. Sshh

Gov. Martin O’Malley (credit AP)

Martin O’Malley, former mayor of Baltimore and current governor of Maryland has been openly discussing a run for the presidency. As mayor, he oversaw a 40% reduction in violent crimes in Baltimore (to the dismay of “The Wire” fans) and as governor, he has charted a pretty liberal list of accomplishments (implementing the Maryland version of the DREAM act, legalizing same-sex marriage, repealing the death penalty).
Strengths: If you are looking for a straight, white-bread Democrat, this guy is the model candidate. Little controversy, steady track record, straightforward personal life and history.
Weaknesses: Looking through the lists of potential candidates, I can only see him winning by default, simply because he is boring. When you’ve got all these fascinating and inspirational candidates (for the primary and the general), the Sears-model Democrat just isn’t going to get noticed.

Bernie Sanders would never tell kids to get off his lawn because he believes that lawns are part of the commons.

Sen. Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders, the country’s sole socialist senator, has expressed interest in running but very few people believe he has a real shot at the presidency. He is committed to not raising gobs of money from special interests and has advocated for such radical ideas as single payer health care, national legalization of marijuana and opposing the bailout of the financial industry . . . views that a majority of Americans support. Naturally, he is completely unelectable.
Strengths: He is remarkably honest, often eschewing the traditional politician’s dodge and offering up substantive policy arguments. He is quirky, media-savvy and quite likeable.
Weaknesses: Sadly, America is not ready to elect a socialist (Seattle aside). While he has the right ideas, the media will treat him like the second coming of Dennis Kucinich and shove him into the corner.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar prepares to karate chop David Gregory in the face which he totally deserves

Sen. Amy Klobuchar

Amy Klobuchar, the senior senator from Minnesota, has long topped my list of “favorite potential vice-presidential candidates.” (Yes, I have these lists, what do you think I do in all my spare time?) As a legal expert, political moderate and very popular woman in a swing state, she would be an ideal candidate for president.
Strengths: Aside from those mentioned above, she also would get a free shot at the presidency without having to endanger her Senate seat (she’s not up for reelection until 2018).
Weaknesses: Amy who? She is not well-known outside Minnesota so it would be an uphill climb to build a presidential campaign. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo plays the world's tiniest violin just for you, you non-New Yorker.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, has received much praise for his role in passing marriage equality in his state. However, his frequent and repeated embraces of Republican policies and politicians has earned the ire of his solidly liberal constituents. Then again, he is was married to a Kennedy and will probably shift a little more left before running.
Strengths: He can fundraise like crazy through his family connections and his New York base. He is also wicked-good at debates.
Weaknesses: Similar to Gillebrand, the Wall Street guys have their hooks into him and he is far more conservative than his portfolio would suggest, which could lead to some friction with the base.

Gov. Brian Schweitzer does not simply order a pizza, he points at it and demands it come to him

Fmr Gov. Brian Schweitzer

Brian Schweitzer, the former governor of Montana, has long been my favorite pick for presidential contender. His blend of libertarian (pro gun rights, pro medical marijuana, anti-Real ID database) and environmentalism (blocking cyanide mining, supporting wind, solar and biofuel in Montana) is a good fit for the emerging mountain Democratic coalition. This former soil scientist turned politician has cut a flashy trail through Montana politics, and will definitely make a splash on the national stage.
Strengths: Currently, he does not have a day job, leaving him plenty of time to campaign. His profile as a governor of a red state makes him a hot media commodity and his cowboy personality works well on screen.
 Despite his impressive work on climate change and renewable energy, he does support so-called “clean coal” and the Keystone Pipeline, seriously undercutting his credibility on environmental issues.

The Republican Candidates

In my view, this side of the race is much more exciting. The Republicans have an easier time this cycle because they are on offense, however, their continued alienation from any non-white, non-male, non-straight, non-young voters is continuing to cost them elections.

Apparently AQUA BUDDA is broadcasting from the surface of the sun. Seriously, what is that behind him?

Sen. Rand Paul

Rand Paul, the junior senator from Kentucky, is the current front runner for the nomination. In my previous post, I highlighted the need for a candidate who would appeal to the young libertarian wing, the business wing and the traditional conservative wings of the party. I now think Paul could pull it off. He has made a national name for himself on issues such as auditing the Fed and oversight for drone use while still appealing to mainline conservatives with his attempt to shut the entire government down.
Strengths: Cross-over appeal with disaffected Democrats and libertarians, and a strong network of online fundraising left over from his father’s campaigns.
Weaknesses: Paul has some serious issues with race. He has had several staffers resign for racists comments or incidents, he wants to roll back the Civil Rights Act, specifically the provisions that forbid businesses from refusing to serve minorities. He has since walked some of this back, but it will be return. While it isn’t necessarily a problem during the primary, it could prove toxic in the general election.

There is absolutely nothing funny to say about a picture of Chris Christie

Gov. Chris Christie

Chris Christie, the loud-mouthed governor of New Jersey, is another popular contender, but I think his goose is cooked. His moderate persona and role as Republican governor of a blue state makes him an attractive candidate for the general, but many Republicans blame his praise of Obama’s role in the Hurricane Sandy clean-up for Obama’s 2012 victory. Add to that, some lingering corruption issues from Jersey and you have a boat that’s dead in the water.
Strengths: The media loves his brassy style and he has proven a very effective fundraiser.
Weaknesses: The Republican base wants to skewer him and then perhaps burn him in effigy. If there is an injection of realism into the GOP in the next year, he has a shot, but the last few years make me very doubtful.

In his defense, that's what you get when you play a drinking game WHILE delivering the State of the Union response

Sen. Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio, the junior senator from Florida, used to be the golden child of the 2016 team. He was a fresh, Latino face on the Republican side and being elected from the largest swing state in the union certainly helped. Unfortunately, he has a major problem. He was forced to kill his signature bill, immigration reform, when he discovered that Republican voters and elected officials don’t really want any sort of immigration reform that does not involve a bigger fence. How he made it this far without realizing that? I’m not really sure.
Strengths: He is a charming, if thirsty, public speaker and he will offer a strong contrast to the other old white candidates.
Weaknesses: He is young and a bit gaffe prone. I could see him being a top shelf vice president candidate but his own campaign is going nowhere.

I love any post that allows me to use this picture. This picture is flawless. Just like you, reader.

Gov. Rick Perry

Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, is also mulling a run. I think he might surprise many people who wrote him off after his complete implosion during the 2012 debates. He should have been a top tier candidate last time but for whatever reason, either lousy staff or his own bottled crazy, he completely choked. If he makes a second go of it, I imagine he will bring his A-game (unlike the Seahawks against the Cardinals last week. What the hell?)
Strengths: He is a great fundraiser and has an impeccable conservative track record in Texas.
Weaknesses: Apparently, he likes to get drunk before debates and major speeches.

Oh Susana, won't you be my VP! I've come from Alabama with a candidate on my knee

Gov. Susana Martinez

Susana Martinez, the governor of New Mexico, should be everyone’s first pick for vice president. She is the first female and first Latina governor of New Mexico. While she is a former Democrat (up until 1995), her conservative record as governor is pretty solid. She handily beat a pretty competitive Democrat in her 2010 campaign. Watch to see if she runs for reelection in 2014, that will signal whether she is going to be involved in this presidential race.
Strengths: Won a swing state, and is what is cynically referred to as a “two-fer,” being both Latina and a woman.
Weaknesses: A former Democrat? She won’t get far in the primaries on her own.

She is very skeptical in this picture, but that's probably because the picture is on a blog.

Gov. Nikki Haley

Nikki Haley, the governor of South Carolina, has many of the same challenges and benefits as Martinez. She is the first woman and Indian to hold the governor’s mansion in the Tarheel state. Her administration has been solidly conservative and she helped lead the fight against Obamacare on the local level.
Strengths: Governor, woman, in charge of a state holding one of the earliest primaries.
Weaknesses: Having grown up Sikh might be a deal breaker for the evangelicals within the party. Also, there is some sort of scandal involving her having an affair with a conservative blogger. It is probably false, because seriously, who would have an affair with a blogger?

It is actually a little known fact that Thune's forehead grows and shrinks as part of an 18 month birthing cycle

Sen. John Thune

John Thune, senator from South Dakota, is pretty much the Republican version of Martin O’Malley. He is what people picture when they think about a traditional Republican candidate. He has been in the Senate for a while, racked up a steady conservative record and is relatively telegenic. He has done nothing to make waves, one way or another, and was considered for the vice president slot by both McCain and Romney.
Strengths: He is inoffensive to Republican voters and will toe the party line.
Weaknesses: He is really, really boring.

What About ????

Yes, I left some people out because I don’t believe they are seriously considering running. Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren and Mark Warner. Why? Because all those people are really happy doing what they are currently doing.

Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee are making good money on the conservative speaker circuit (from Fox News to your medium-sized county fair!). Schumer wants to be majority leader after Harry Reid retires, Elizabeth Warren is really enjoying her role as slow-roaster of Wall Street crooks  and Mark Warner just wants to stay in Virginia.

Let me know your thoughts on the 2016 race in the comments below. I will circle around and reassess these candidates as they jump into the race.



  1. Glad you included O’Malley this time. He’s not a scintillating candidate, but he has a solid record of getting the job done and is a bonafide liberal. He lacks foreign policy experience, though. Only HRC and Biden have the chops in that realm. The President had to shore up that weakness by having Biden as his VP choice in 2008. I’d like to see you address who on the left could perform that function for any of your other Dems. Romney was boring as it gets and yet 48% of the electorate voted for him anyway.

    I’m not convinced that middle America cares about libertarian wet dreams like Rand Paul. Americans as a whole are moderates, not libertarians. I’d like to see you take that filter off your brain and evaluate candidates the way the middle does.

    Could definitely see the Clintons giving full-throated support to Gillibrand. I don’t like her and strongly suspect she’s a neocon like HRC, but they love her. I really don’t think people care about Wall Street backing: see Romney, no tax returns.

    Think you’re right about Sanders. He’s our version of the clown car. That said, I’m darn glad we don’t have a crazy base to pander to.

    I think the GOP primaries will be harder to predict because they’re making radical changes to the way they will be conducted. They got suckered into a long drawn out process and lots of debates last cycle (thank you, Michael Steele) and they won’t make that mistake again. They don’t have an heir apparent to the nomination this time, so it’s an open field.

    I agree, I don’t care how much weight Christie loses, he can’t and won’t pander to the base and no way they nominate a conservative from the East. Conservatives in the East don’t have the same world view as the rest of the conservatives in this country. Why Christie doesn’t see that is beyond me. He definitely does not know his audience when it comes to the national stage.

    Also, I’d like it better if your If, than statement were If, then.
    Nice work.

    • I agree that Rand Paul is out of touch with middle America but there are some issues in which he will draw support from the left – oversight on drones is one of those issues. However, I think his biggest strength is his ability to unite the fractured GOP.

      I’ll take a look at those if, than’s and clean them up.

      Good question about foreign policy experience, I’ll chew on that and get back to you.

  2. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the D’s are likely to go a third term, just as the R’s did 1980-1992. Being the first female presidential D nominee would not be seen as a failure if she didn’t win either by her, or most others…it would be seen in context, as an historical milestone. Schweitzer might be on the long-list of VP’s for Sec. Clinton, but 2016 is not his year, and he seems to know it. The R’s will likely run Christie, though many of their whack-jobs won’t like it…He’s their Wendell Wilkie to our FDR, if you will…probably not far apart on many issues from Sec. Clinton, but distinct enough, and seen as a maverick considering his breach with the R Party base…Christie has some good qualities—he’s no president, but he would give Clinton a run for her considerable money…Christie’s biggest problem will be, of course, the mangling he’ll get from his Republican compatriots in the primaries…the only question remaining about who the R’s will nominate is whether or not Christie survives his primaries…it’s not really very complicated, because they aren’t…

  3. the inner party rejection of Christie that you mention is the same exact stuff that McCain and Romney had from their party. But the favorite idealists tend to implode. So by attrition, the nominee usually ends up being the boring moderate that none of the GOP activists really wanted. All the Bachman and Santorum folks got stuck with Romney. All the Herman Cain folks did too. The issue crusaders can’t get a wide enough coalition… the faith guys can’t get the Libertarian support, the big biz guys can’t get the anti immigrant support etc…. until the single issue candidates crash and burn and everyone’s stuck with McCain or Romney. Christie could still get the nomination. There’s nothing inconsistent with that possibility. But… mark my words, if they do “get stuck with him”, he is 10 times the potent and credible candidate than a plastic fake like Romney or a maniacal suckup like mcCain.

    • I think Romney benefited from his completely inferior competition. I don’t see Rand Paul going down easy against Christie.

  4. And how many presidential candidates can dance on the head of a pin..? 🙂

    The point that is being missed in all this is that the “system” is irrevocably broken, bought and sold as it were to the highest bidders (the Kochs, the Gates, no amount of prognosticating about the candidates will make one whit of difference. We need to be explaining the terrible tragedy that has befallen this country for if we do not carry that knowledge with us into the future, the presence of this person or that in the offal (sic) office will continue to be of no import. We do not and we cannot under the present circumstances know these candidates whose every move and word are the product of a Madison Ave ad campaign. What does that say about our ability to make rational choices in this cacophony of lies and misrepresentation that set us against one another?

    A friend recent wrote to me and said, “and people who vote do in fact read & listen to news, which does not put them to sleep…but rather reduces them to mad beasts that bite & snarl at one another.

    Those who do not vote do not know what’s going on, & just how are they to know – especially the younger tier of those 21 & above, dispossessed of any role in civic or economic life, & between working, or trying to find work, studying in order to pass largely meaningless courses, finding the money to live & pay bills & loans, fighting off depression, trying to socialize with one another, get laid or hooked up or married? In the time available to most of us to take in news – that would be what, 30 minutes, an hour a day – how could we be expected to vote to any effect other than to express the same confusion that we feel in our minds, & do other than misdirect this society exactly as it so powerfully & relentlessly misdirects us?”

    This must be our conversation.

    • You forgot the unions.

      • I did not forget the unions. I just failed to mention in this particular post their destruction and the terrible effect that has had on labor laws and wages. Thanks for bringing up the topic.

        David Macaray writes in Counterpunch: “In the 1950s, the U.S. was prosperous, optimistic, and buoyant with confidence. During that period union membership was a staggering 34-percent. Today, we’re struggling, polarized, and pessimistic. And union membership barely moves the needle.

        Yet you still hear people—not just conservative pundits and free market fundamentalists, but regular working folks—blame the unions for our problems. It’s true. Regular, good-hearted working folks are now hostile to the only institution capable of representing their interests. How bizarre is that?”

        You can read the entirety of Macaray’s essay at:

    • Dick – depressingly true. Systematic corruption, in which every one of our “representatives” has his job bought for him by corporate interests. For whom therefore does he work? NOT US!

      I’d add that the presidential election is pretty much a pre-vetted beauty contest between candidates chosen to be reliable salesmen for the Complex. Symbolic interest only.

  5. I would heartily support Warren/Sanders in 2016! However I will most likely vote my conscience and vote Green Party again as long as Washington State’s electoral college delegates are unlikely to go for a Republi-Tea-Fascist ticket.

    • Now that was a constructive comment!

  6. Any candidate that is vetted by the media and the corporate backers in order to get the nomination of the two “major” parties, will be one that will not rock the boat, even if be headed towards an iceberg.

    • yup – he gets to play president on the teevee.

  7. On Truthdig today Chris Hedges writes on just one (banks) of many topics that are relevant to us locally but are never mentioned by our local politicians, “We won’t be saved by anyone in Washington. We will have to save ourselves. We will have to transform our communities, cities and states into places where the consent of the governed is no longer a joke. We will have to take back power, which in a corporate state is financial power, from the venal class of speculators who hold us hostage. In open defiance we will have to build our own independent institutions. Of course the speculators will fight back. And they will fight dirty—they know the consequences of this revolt. Public banks are not just about the economy. They are about liberty.” [ Overthrow the Speculators ]

    Unfortunately not many people, even in our fair city, read or even know about these issues. The voice of Bernie Sanders is an outstanding exception on the national level, however, he like Elizabeth Warren are essentially locked out of the process and their speech is belittled and condemned not only by political shills but by the very people, the low information voters, who would gain from the changes Sanders and Warren are proposing.

    It is up to us to bring this information to Bellingham.

    • Is a Political Shill better or worse than a Political Junkie?

      • Junkies just get high on politics. Shills get rich. 🙂

      • Dang, I need to upgrade.

        @everyone on this thread, if you haven’t already, hover over the pictures for added snark.

    • Isn’t the internet wonderful: anyone can provide links to anything-truthful or untruthful. In a court of law a judge would consider them hearsay.

      • I think you meant your comment to be sarcastic, Wayne – but you are literally quite correct. The internet allows all of us access to information to form our own judgments in contrast to the corporatist media that spoonfeeds and programs in order to control and profit. Yes the internet is wonderful (and teevee is horrible)!

      • You don’t know whether or not my comment was meant to be sarcastic or not do you?

        Thanks for simply agreeing that I am correct rather than putting the usual progressive spin or it.

        A slight correction: all information from whatever medium allows to form our own (individual) judgements.

        Are you saying that there is no “corporatist media” on the Internet?

        And Happy New Year to you from the TEA Party movement.

      • Well, Wayne, for once I would appreciate your providing some useful information such as that upon which you base YOUR opinions. Your one-liners offer nothing in the way of substance. If the links I provide to information offer facts or concepts with which you disagree, let us have a discussion about that and the conclusions drawn from what is presented.

      • My comment speaks for itself.

      • @Wayne – I agreed with your literal words (just as I agree with the stated aims of the Tea Party). The corporatist media is pervasive – I avoid it, and I can’t tolerate teevee for very long.

        If you Tea-partiers are really serious about freedom, why are you not fighting the prohibition of cannabis, which is an insult to any concept of freedom?

        And a happy new year from me (not a subscriber to any ideology).

      • David,

        Actually, I am from the Libertarian wing of the TEA Party, which is substantial, so I have no problem with cannabis.

        And Happy New Year to you too.

  8. When people were calling Dubya “dumb,” I as a texan knew better…he was incurious, disinterested, a bit simple…but not dumb…Rand Paul is dumb.

    • Dick,

      i will have to get back to you as I am taking the rest of the year off.

  9. Andrew Cuomo is divorced from Kerry Kennedy.

    From Wikipedia
    Cuomo was married to Kerry Kennedy, the seventh child of Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Skakel Kennedy, for 13 years. They have three children: Cara, Michaela and Mariah Cuomo. The two separated in 2003 and divorced in 2005. As of 2011, Cuomo lived with his girlfriend, Food Network host Sandra Lee.

    • Thank you for that, I’ll fix it. 🙂

      • Sandra Lee famous for her semi-home made style of cooking.

      • I had no idea who Sandra Lee was but now do – thanks, Hue! Here’s a link to a Wiki article with a rather good photo:

    • Don’t you mean Paula Dean? LOL!

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