Sunday, April 6, 2014

2016: Bush v. Clinton

Is April of 2014 too early to make presidential predictions for 2016? Well, not for me because I am a political junkie.

It’s going to be Jeb Bush vs. Hillary Clinton. 

I feel sure that they both plan to run and that nobody in their respective parties is capable of stopping them.

So who would win a Bush v. Clinton race? I think Hillary has the edge. Now, before you call your bookie, I should point out that my record on predictions is not stellar. In 1980, when the GOP nominated Ronald Reagan, I felt that Carter was a shoo-in for re-election. I had lived in California for six years of Reagan’s governorship, so I knew him to be a class-A doofus of very limited intelligence. “The American people don’t want a not-too-bright doofus for president!” I confidently told myself.

I was wrong.

So, Nate Silver, I am not. But here is my thinking. Hillary’s main weaknesses are her age and the baggage that comes with connections to a controversial political family. Jeb being in his sixties (albeit not as deep into his sixties as is Hillary) will somewhat ameliorate her vulnerability on the age issue.

As for the, “Haven’t we had enough of that family?” factor, only Jeb Bush invalidates that point against her. In fact he more than invalidates it, given the obvious comparison between the disastrous W. presidency as opposed to the economically sound, balanced-budget Clinton era.

Where the Electoral College is concerned, I expect that Jeb will take Florida since he’s still fairly popular here, and Hillary will take Pennsylvania. The winner of Ohio, as usual, will be the winner of the general election.

Jeb has an advantage in being married to a Hispanic woman and having mastered the Spanish language. He may attract more Hispanic voters than the typical GOP candidate. But Hillary has the advantage of being the first viable presidential candidate who can confidently claim to truly get women’s issues.

In the end, I believe Hillary has the edge mainly because of this: Jeb has to deal with the Republican Party. The Tea Party will hammer him during the primaries and probably force him to move right on a number of issues. In order to get the nomination, he may have to take nutty positions on gay marriage, global warming or immigration. Ultimately, the GOP may split into two, with one faction forming a new, officially independent Tea Party, while the other tries to maintain an Eisenhowerish moderate conservative position. Such a split might bring about a Republican resurgence, but I expect this would only happen after the 2016 election.

I will say up front that I sincerely hope that our next president is Hillary, or some other progressive Democrat. This is partly on general principles, but very specifically because the next president is going to shape the Supreme Court in a big way. The latest justices appointed to the Supreme Court have been on the young side, and this is no doubt because both W and Obama wanted to have their influence on that court be enduring. And one thing this country does not need is a Supreme Court that goes on for decades making decisions like Citizens United and McCutcheon - decisions that guarantee ever more corruption in our electoral politics.

May God (or Nate Silver or someone like that) save us, then, from another Bush presidency.