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How Rand Paul will become the 2016 GOP nominee for president

Rand Paul will be the 2016 Republican nominee for President
Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images

Rand Paul will be the Republican nominee for president in 2016. Take it to the bank and report it everywhere, the creator of UnSkewed Polls predicts that Rand Paul will be the GOP nominee in 2016 presidential race. The Republican Party will break its tradition of nominating the second place candidate from last time around (that would be Rick Santorum, he doesn't have a shot at all) or someone else in waiting with the right name, such as Jeb Bush, and will nominate the new and interesting guy in the crowd of candidates.

Great political skills can go a long way in propelling a candidate to become the nominee of one of the two major parties. Political skills can make up for weaknesses in many other areas, including the carrying of baggage and even major scandals. Look at how the political skills allowed Bill Clinton to come out of almost no where, overcome serious scandals, and beat some solid candidates to by the end of the process, easily win the 1992 Democrat nomination for president. But then he was still considered likely to lose against President George H.W. Bush, who was riding a wave of temporary popularity from the victory in the First Gulf War. Thsoe same political skills, along with the help of the media and H. Ross Perot getting in, and out, and back into the race helped Bill Clinton successfully campaign for and win the president in November of 1992.

Here's how I see the 2016 Republican field shaping up. Rick Santorum and Rick Perry will run again, but I see both dropping out before a single caucus or primary vote is cast, perhaps as early as the major straw poll they conduct in Iowa months before that state's caucus. After abstaining from the 2012 contest, surprise 2008 candidate Mike Huckabee will come back. 2012 also-ran Jon Huntsman will also make another attempt in 2016, hoping to improve from his third placing showing in New Hampshire last time around. Two popular governors, Ohio's John Kasich and New Jersey's Chris Christie will jump into the race. The GOP establishment's new favorite, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush will make the run as well as the TEA party movement's favorite, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who is also the son of former Texas Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul. But the son has substantially more mainstream views and far more political skills than his father.

Here's how I see the race going through the primary and caucus process. Iowa seems to become less important with each presidential election cycle and 2016 will be no different. Chris Christie's upset Iowa win over Jeb Bush will mean more for Bush than it does for Christie, because Bush will fall to third place (like his dad in 1988 losing to Bob Dole while Pat Robertson placed second), with Rand Paul coming in second place. That surprise second by Rand Paul causes newspaper headlines that would make you think Rand Paul had won the whole thing in Iowa. He might as well have, because his second place finish makes the headlines by overcoming expectations.

John Kasich puts his focus more on South Carolina as the other candidates battle for the votes of about one hundred thousand Republican primary voters in New Hampshire. The candidates spend a couple intense weeks of personal campaigning in New Hampshire to get every last vote they can in the primary. Rand Paul, Christ Christie and Jeb Bush finish in a new tie with Paul just hundreds of votes ahead of the other two. Huntsman finishes in fourth and probably drop out, while Huckabee and Kasich were in South Carolina appealing for votes there.

In South Carolina, Huckabee and Kasich split the more conservative vote in the primary while the relatively moderate portion of the vote there is split almost equally between Bush and Christie. That leaves Rand Paul to build a coalition of Republican primary voters, including the more libertarian-leaning Republicans and others, and win a close primary over Bush and Huckabee, who are just about tied for second place in South Carolina.

The primaries in many of the Southern states are split evenly between Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee, making it clear the race for the nomination is becoming a two-man race between those, and Kasich and Bush are clearly falling behind them.

After Bush and Kasich suspend their campaigns, their supporters mostly go to Paul and Huckabee. The GOP establishment only marginally dislikes Huckabee much less than they dislike Paul. They mostly support Christie but don't see him as having a chance to make up for his large delegate defecit he faces against Paul and Huckabee.

By the time most of the states have voted, Rand Paul has won enough delegates to have a majority at the convention and it's clear he will be the 2016 Republican nominee for president. By having more mainstream foreign policy views than his dad, Paul appealled strong for the votes of national security conservatives. Being Pro-Life and standing up for traditional marriage, he kept Huckabee from entirely dominating the evangelical Christian vote as he did in 2008. His strong libertarians stance against issues like NSA spying made Paul extremely popular with some GOP voters that might otherwise have supported Christie or Bush. In the end, Rand Paul very skillfully merged a solid activist base that included supporters of his dad's past campaigns and those he recruited and added to that base while building a diverse coalition of conservative and Republican voters from all factions of the GOP.

Democats should be both impressed with, and very worried about, Rand Paul's ability to appeal to a wide variety of voters from different constituencies. And if they think they will easily win by smearing Paul as a Republican extremists, they should be aware that is already underway against their own nominee – former Vermont Governor Howard Dean. That infamous Howard Dean scream from 2004 will be heard many times before November comes.

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