Don’t bet the farm on Clin­ton vs. Christie in 2016

The Covington News - - THE SECOND OPINION - SCOTT RAS­MUSSEN COLUM­NIST To find out more about Scott Ras­mussen, and read fea­tures by other Cre­ators writ­ers and car­toon­ists, visit cre­

One of the sure signs that po­lit­i­cal ac­tivists have too much time on their hands is all the chat­ter about who will win the 2016 pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tions.

The con­ven­tional wis­dom seems to be that for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton has a lock on the Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is the fron­trun­ner among Repub­li­cans. Some of the silly chat­ter from the con­de­scend­ing class in Wash­ing­ton won­ders if the Repub­li­can base will be smart enough to nom­i­nate some­one like Christie or if they will in­sist on a more con­ser­va­tive can­di­date.

Th­ese at­ti­tudes are bol­stered by early pub­lic opin­ion polls show­ing Clin­ton and Christie both lead­ing the pri­mary bat­tles. Not only that, Christie is do­ing bet­ter than other Repub­li­cans in matchups against Clin­ton.

De­spite that, I doubt that ei­ther Clin­ton or Christie will top the party tick­ets in 2016.

I say that de­spite the fact that there are many things I ad­mire about both of them.

Among the Democrats, the con­ven­tional ar­gu­ment goes that Clin­ton has an enor­mous lead and a great po­lit­i­cal or­ga­ni­za­tion back­ing her. Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den is a se­ri­ous can­di­date in his own mind but an af­ter­thought to other Democrats. No­body else is even reg­is­ter­ing a pulse in the early polls.

But as oth­ers have noted, the last can­di­date to have such an enor­mous early ad­van­tage was none other than Hil­lary Clin­ton her­self, just eight years ago. At that time, hardly any­body had even heard of Barack Obama.

Among Repub­li­cans, Christie has a smaller lead, but his re­sume in­cludes a tan­ta­liz­ing electabil­ity argu- ment. Af­ter all, he man­aged to win as a Repub­li­can in a solidly Demo­cratic state, and he is coast­ing to a huge re-elec­tion vic­tory.

Ad­di­tion­ally, his blunt style has won him ap­prov­ing no­tices in many places around the coun­try. Christie is also ben­e­fit­ing from very pos­i­tive me­dia cov­er­age at the mo­ment.

The New Jersey gover­nor’s cam­paign is look­ing a lot like an ear­lier cam­paign by an­other North­east­ern Repub­li­can, for­mer New York City Mayor Rudy Gi­u­liani. At the same time Hil­lary Clin­ton looked un­beat­able for the 2008 pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion, Gi­u­liani was lead­ing the GOP polls. His strength was built upon a national pro­file earned in the af­ter­math of the 9/11 tragedy.

Like Christie, though, Gi­u­liani’s lead was partly the re­sult of a crowded field. He had a base of sup­port­ers, while other vot­ers were di­vided among many other op­tions. But he also had a num­ber of li­a­bil­i­ties that placed an ef­fec­tive cap on his level of sup­port. That’s true of Christie to­day.

Still, Gi­u­liani led in the polls al­most un­til the end of 2007. But once the vot­ing be­gan, re­al­ity set in, and the li­a­bil­i­ties be­came clear. The mayor did poorly in Iowa and New Hamp­shire, took a break be­fore los­ing in Florida, and then dropped out of the race. He didn’t win a sin­gle pri­mary, much less the nom­i­na­tion.

None of us knows what the po­lit­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment will look like when 2016 ar­rives. We don’t know how the can­di­dates will per­form on the long cam­paign trail. Some, like Barack Obama, will ex­ceed ex­pec­ta­tions. Oth­ers, like Fred Thomp­son and Rick Perry, will dis­ap­point.

When all the votes are tal­lied, I ex­pect both par­ties will nom­i­nate de­cent can­di­dates. But the names Clin­ton and Christie will not top the ticket in Novem­ber 2016.

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