I was reading Chris Cillizza's Monday morning fix piece , which by the way, Cillizza is the Washington reporter's Washington reporter. Sure, he makes plenty of appearances on MSNBC, and I am sure he's a registered Democrat, or at least is a reliable D vote if he's a registered Indy, but he's one of few journalists left in Washington. In the piece, he talks about how Mitt Romney has little margin for error concerning the electoral college, and for the most part, I agree.
I agree, Mitt Romney's electoral "floor" is pretty high. On April 30, I'd say he starts with 240 electoral votes and I concede that he flips Virginia, Colorado, Nevada, and Iowa from four years ago to get to that number. From there he needs 30 electoral votes to make Barack Obama a one-term proposition. He could actually win the presidency without winning Florida or Ohio if he wins Wisconsin, Michigan, and New Mexico (31 electoral votes) or if he could swap New Hampshire for New Mexico, he'd be at 270 on the nose.
He won't win Michigan, Wisconsin is likely D, and New Mexico will be deep purple in this election. To put it this way, if Romney wins New Mexico, it likely won't matter because he'll have either won or lost by the time the polls close there. All of this math is worthless in April and May, as there is still a political lifetime between now and November.
For the most part, I expect Barack Obama to win re-election in a very close election, both electorally and in the popular vote. And if you want a bold prediction, I think the electoral map will look almost identical to the one in 2004, with Iowa and Ohio "flipping" from that election and going blue-which would give Obama 275 electoral votes, and re-election. And I am guessing he wins a fraction less than 50% in the popular vote. 49-47ish.
Sparing everyone predictions for what might happen in an Obama second-term, the only natural thing is to look ahead. Who is "next" for the Democratic Party? Of course Hillary Clinton is at the top of the list because, let's face it, she is and will be until she decides on the matter herself. But who else is there to really "get behind?"
What I am getting at is I think the Democratic Party really (pardon the lack of tact) shot their wad when it comes to "stars." Following his speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, the Party got a collective (pardon me) boner for Barack Obama, but the kicker there was, I think most Democrats and their Party loyalists had ideally envisioned a full term and re-election to the Senate (which would have been in 2010) before running in 2012.
But Obama and his people knew that 2008 was really his only option. Re-election in '10 would have been easy, but with '08 being such a Democratic year, he would have had to wait until 2016 to run, and by then he'd have spent 12 years (with 12 years of voting records for the GOP to analyze and publish) in the Senate and would have to forgo re-election in the Senate to win the Presidency.
Obviously his decision was the right one, but now the Democratic Party goes from the guy who ran the never-to-be-forgotten 2008 campaign, who was just likable enough to win re-election to "um, OK, now what?"
The Democratic shortlist (at least the one off the top of my head) for 2016 looks something like this (in no order, except for Hillary):
- Hillary Clinton (Secretary of State)
- Mark Warner (US Senate - VA)
- Dan Malloy (Current Governor - CT)
- Heath Shuler (US Congress - NC)
If the Democrats were smart, they'd stick with a list like that. Hillary, will be 69 if sworn into office in 2013, Warner would be 62, Malloy-60, and Shuler, just a young 45.
Hillary will not run. You heard it here. 2008 was her year and she came up incredibly unlucky, and for so many reasons, namely Barack Obama, but almost as unlucky was the once Clinton-friendly media's full-throated endorsement of Obama during the primary.
Mark Warner is probably the best candidate the Democrats would have theoretically. While the "base" would wince through a primary, they'd fall in line during the general, and Warner has a much more genuine moderate streak than Barack Obama, who got party-switchers because of the nature of the 2008 election and simply his existence as a candidate.
Malloy is relatively young (in terms of the Office) and would have the immediate approval and endorsement of the base. Malloy, who has not bit his tongue when an opportunity presents itself to criticize Republicans and conservatives has some liabilities. However, if he is able to curtail his state's huge budget deficit (almost $3.5 billion) with the huge tax increases he put into place, that alone would make him a viable candidate.
As for Heath Shuler, he's as calculating as it gets. And while you may be questioning my list because he's on it, let me explain. Shuler did the smart thing and decided not to pursue re-election in 2012. Redistricting in North Carolina eliminated 11+% of registered Democrats in his 11th Congressional district. Instead of having a loss on the books, he can spend two years fundraising a potential Senate run in North Carolina for the 2014 race against Richard Burr. In an increasingly more Democratic State, a win over Richard Burr would mean instant stardom, especially in a year that is likely to be horrendous for Democrats (if Obama is re-elected).
Now I am a Republican and I work in Republican politics, so I don't know all the names, but this is a list I stuck my neck out on. The point is, there are very few Democrats the nation will be able to get excited about. Barack Obama changed the landscape and set the bar very high for Democratic candidates down the line. Whether or not it is fair, their campaigns will be set next to the 2008 Obama campaign for a generation. Washington Democrats these days are looking much like Washington Republicans were during the middle of the first decade of the 2000s, old, white, and angry.
The Republicans on the other hand have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to viable candidates for President for the foreseeable future. Perhaps the GOP shouldn't be too discouraged by an Obama win in November, 2014 will be a massive wave year for the GOP, and with massive wave years come new wave stars.