The Republican Party seems to be coming apart at the seams. Three years out from the next Presidential election, the party is still leaderless, and the prospect of joining forces behind a single candidate looks dim.
A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is the most popular Republican politician right now.
But Christie is not popular with Tea Party Republicans, and that could be a serious problem in the primaries, which determine who gets the nomination, because large numbers of Tea Party Republicans vote in the primaries.
Only 39% of Tea Party Republicans have a favorable view of Christie, while 68% of Tea Party Republicans have a favorable view of Ted Cruz, the ultraconservative Senator from Texas whose ill-timed filibuster brought about the Shutdown.
The Shutdown was wildly unpopular with the American people, and up to 70% of Americans blamed the Republicans, and Ted Cruz, for the mess it created.
But that doesn’t deter Tea Party supporters, who seem to have adopted Barry Goldwater’s 1964 campaign motto. “In your heart you know he’s right,” even though that campaign led to one of the worst defeats in American history. Lyndon Johnson received 61% of the vote, while Goldwater only received 38%.
The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll also shows that Hillary Clinton is the most popular Democratic politician, almost by default. According to the poll, 46% of Democrats have a favorable view of Clinton (down from 51% in September).
Don't count your chickens before they're hatched.
Just after the 2012 election, the National Journal published a list of the top ten Democratic candidates:
- Hillary Rodham Clinton
- Vice President Joe Biden
- Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley
- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
- Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia
- Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer
- Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick
- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York
- Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
- Newark Mayor Cory Booker
But some of those candidates look incredibly weak. Vice President Joe Biden has virtually disappeared from the national consciousness, and his cardboard personality doesn’t lend itself to a vibrant national campaign.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has the reputation of being a dull politician, and that isn’t good for someone who wants to be President. Kirsten Gillibrand, New York’s junior Senator, plays third fiddle in the State to both Cuomo and senior Senator Chuck Schumer.
Mitt Romney carried Montana with 55.3% of the vote, so it unlikely that the Democrats would pick Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, a candidate who might not carry his own State.
Like Schweitzer, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley doesn’t have national name recognition.
Antonio Villaraigosa, the former Mayor of Los Angeles, is tainted by a 2007 sex scandal that ended in his divorce after being married for 20 years.
So that really narrow the completion to New Jersey’s brand new Senator Cory Booker (the former Mayor of Newark), Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, and Senator Mark Warner of Virginia.
None of those candidates has the political clout that Clinton has, but then again none of them have the down side that Clinton has either.
Do the American people really want to be reminded of the Monica Lewinsky scandal? Probably not, and that’s why Hillary’s early lead in the polls is not insurmountable.
Hillary is the front runner right now, but 2016 is a long way off. The question is; who will step in to fill the void?