It seems as if it's a foregone conclusion that Hillary Clinton will become the Democratic nominee for president heading into the 2016 election. While the mystery is all but gone for Democrats, the flip side is a lot more inconclusive.
Following the economic disaster in the fall of 2008, Republican nominee for president John McCain and his campaign team had to make an impact move in order to make a serious run at keeping the White House "red." With the stain of the Bush administration hovering above their head, the McCain campaign rolled the dice with former governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin. Despite drawing impressive crowds and appealing to the far right conservative base, the spotlight proved too great for the inexperienced Palin, and on the first Tuesday of November in 2008, Sen. Barack Obama became President Elect.
Since that time, Republicans have done everything in their power to make the Obama administration and ineffective one. Consistent allegations of government overreach, questionable scandals and never ending gridlock have become the norm when it comes to how the current Republican party views the Obama administration. Despite all the mudslinging, President Obama was able to overcome a slow economic recovery and win reelection over Republican challenger Mitt Romney in 2012.
With the Obama administration approaching the back-end of its second term, Republicans are gearing up for an expected strong showing in the 2014 mid term elections with their eyes set on an even greater prize in 2016. Though they might have a positive outlook, the reality doesn't show such optimism. The current crop of Republican challengers just don't seem to get the conservative base excited. According to a poll released this week, the top vote getter in a hypothetical Republican primary would actually be 2012 nominee, Mitt Romney.
One potential challenger is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who even before he was disgraced with the Washington Bridge scandal, was seen as too "north east" for southern conservative in and around the Bible belt. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) plays well to the religious right and Tea Party crowd, but scares away moderate Republicans and the establishment who know a Cruz nomination would be an all but certain defeat in a national election.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is someone who is an interesting possibility due to his stance on foreign policy, NSA surveillance and the war on drugs. Those issues alone could catch the eyes of many younger voters, a voting block that the Republican party is starving for. Paul's major problem within his own party is that the establishment is highly unlikely to elect someone who is so against the grain when it comes to foreign policy. The "hawks" in the party simply just won't let it happen.
Another name that has been linked to 2016 is Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Mitt Romney's running mate during the 2012 election. Ryan has put his name back into headlines in late July when he revealed his plan to fight poverty, which many say was just more of the same from the fiscally conservative Ryan. With the memory of being on the losing ticket in 2012 still fresh in his mind, the Tea Party favorite will have an uphill battle to climb to move to the front of the line in two years.
Names such as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) have also been mentioned, but many wonder if the current Republican party would be comfortable nominating a minority in a national election when such a large voting base are southern whites. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Sen. Rick Santorum and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn), all who failed in 2012, have hinted at a possible return in 2016. Those three, like many other potential candidates, are considered too extreme and fanatical to win any national election.
The one name that could give Hillary Clinton or any Democratic nominee a strong challenge would be the former governor of Florida, Jeb Bush. When Jeb Bush left office in 2007, he was seen as a success in the eyes of many in the Sunshine State and has had greater aspersions ever since. Jeb Bush's biggest problem might be his name, one that carry's the memory of his brother who is universally seen as a massive failure.
Putting their candidates aside, the Republican party as a whole is not moving in the direction of the majority of the country when it comes to important social issues. Over 50 percent of the American people now support same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization, as well as a more reasonable response to immigration than the party currently offers. Key voting blocks that have only continued to grow in size, such as women and Hispanics, have overwhelmingly supported Democratic candidates in the recent past.
No matter who the Republican party props up to challenge for the White House in 2016, they will be seen as the ultimate underdog in a race that they need to win. If Republicans don't adapt to the current state of the country and provide voters with a better group of candidates, the 2016 election will look eerily similar to 2008 and 2012.