Is Hillary Clinton a foregone conclusion? Can Elizabeth Warren pull off the unthinkable? And is Joe Biden still in the game? The 2016 Election is nearly two years away, but some candidates have begun publicly throwing their hats in the ring already, though none on the Democratic Party side. Still, it’s not too early to begin handicapping the field in terms of the odds of who will end up with the party’s nomination – and it may not be as cut and dry as it initially appears. Here are the odds of each of the major players ending up with the nod.
Hillary Clinton: 80%. The nomination in 2012 was hers for the taking, and she ended up losing that to an upstart Barack Obama. So what’s changed since then? She has. Her four years as Secretary of State established to moderate voters that she’s capable of being a conciliatory elder statesman, in contrast with her earlier reputation as a hardnose. As a result, her popularity climbed to an all time high. Fake scandals like Benghazi won’t derail her candidacy in 2016. Nor will her advancing age; she’s the same age as Mitt Romney. Hillary health could hold her back, but only if her concussion turns out to have long term symptoms. She could, however, simply decide she doesn’t want to run. There’s also the matter of Elizabeth Warren…
Elizabeth Warren: 15%. She’s done the unthinkable in the era of “Citizens United” corporate campaign funding – she’s built her popularity based squarely on attacking the morally suspect financial institutions whose help she would need to get elected President through a traditional campaign. These are the corporations who are going to give the majority of their donations to the republican candidate in 2016, but will also hedge their bets by giving a large minority of their donations to the democrat if they believe that democrat won’t come after them too hard. It’s not yet clear whether Warren is burning bridges with them because she has no interest in running, or because she’s planning to mount a campaign based entirely on small dollar donations from the public. If she does run for President it’ll be less likely about trying to and more likely with the aim of forcing Hillary to steer her platform more liberal. But if Hillary doesn’t run, Elizabeth Warren immediately becomes the frontrunner for the Democratic Party nomination.
Joe Biden: 5%. Liberal voters know Biden an intelligent free thinking who is firmly on the side of the working class and occasionally misspeaks in bizarre ways. The rest of the nation only knows him for his gaffes. That makes him a tough sell to moderate voters who don’t pay close attention, and gives him the poorest odds of winning the Presidency of any of the three major democratic candidates. If he runs, he’ll put President Obama in the awkward situation of not being able to initially endorse anyone. Obama is primarily interested in ensuring that his long term policies remain on track, which will happen with any democratic President in 2016. So if the nation is leaning toward Hillary then, Obama may privately discourage Joe Biden from running so his administration can back her unequivocally from day one. But again, if she doesn’t run, all bets are off for the nomination.