It's been six months since I commented on the 2016 presidential contenders. By now I think we probably know who-all is going to run. This post is less about who I think ought to win than who is likely to win.
i) On the Democrat side, Bernie Sanders is a sideshow, although he may expose Hillary's weak support. Moreover, if he's formidable in early primaries, she will have to tack even further to the left. That will generate awkward quotes when she runs for the general election.
ii) Jim Webb has thrown his hat into the ring. I doubt that a 70-year-old white man will wrest the Democrat nomination from Hillary.
If he were the nominee, he might be a more formidable candidate to run against the GOP than Hillary. But since I doubt that's in the cards, there's no point detailing his hypothetical advantages.
iii) On the GOP side, I think Christie has no realistic chance of securing the nomination. To begin with, Jeb is the default establishment Republican in the race. I don't see how Christie can dislodge Jeb.
And if Jeb stumbles, Kasich is the logical fallback for the establishment Republican niche. Kasich is Jeb's understudy.
Christie a liberal Eastern Republican like Giuliani, but he lacks Rudy's 9/11 afterglow (which has faded).
iv) I think it unlikely that Jeb will secure the nomination. There's no enthusiasm for his candidacy, apart from party operatives like Karl Rove. The base dislikes him. And he has much stronger competition than Dole, McCain, or Romney.
v) Kasich is even less likely to secure the nomination than Jeb. To begin with, if Jeb stumbles, it will be too late for Kasich to step in.
Kasich is lackluster. He's good on budget issues. And that's about it. He doesn't resonate with social issues. That's not his center of gravity.
vi) I think Walker and Rubio are the two contenders with the best shot at securing the nomination, with Jindal as the darkhorse candidate.
A lot may turn on debate performances, and who is even able to get into the debates.
On the plus side, Walker knows how to stand up to political thugs. Since Obama has turned the Executive bureaucracy into a partisan thugocracy, that's a job qualification. However, his knowledge of domestic and foreign policy is thin.
Rubio is the favorite compromise candidate. Someone most GOP voters can settle for, with the fewest downsides.
vii) At this point it's likely that Hillary's GOP opponent will be a much younger, much fresher candidate. In presidential debates, that will make her look haggard by comparison.
viii) Hillary's challenge is that she has a low ceiling of support. She needs to raise the ceiling.
There are lots of folks who will voter for her no matter what. But there are lots of folks who won't vote for her under any circumstances.
She has phenomenal high negatives. She has more baggage than the DFW airport.
Moreover, a lot of younger voters are ignorant of Hillary's scandals and hypocrisy.
But paradoxically, the corruption of the Clintons is so notorious that it's like scar tissue. That's "old news." So familiar that many voters don't care. They're used to it.
There are people who will vote for any Democrat. And there are folks who want to "make history" by voting for a woman.
ix) Which brings us to Fiorina. She's certainly interesting. Her resume is far more impressive than Hillary's.
In presidential debates, she'd neutralize the gender card. Hillary couldn't play that against her.
However, I doubt that would be much of an advantage in the general election. If voters have two women to choose from, if whichever candidate they vote for will be a women, then voters who hanker to vote for a female candidate because she's a woman will go with Hillary.
And that will hurt Finorina in the primaries. I doubt Republicans feel like taking a risk on her. There's too much at stake. Moreover, her conservative street cred is a bit forced.
x) Ben Carson would probably be a good pic for surgeon general, HHS, or maybe the CDE. Cruz would probably be a good pick for attorney general.
I haven't discussed Rand, Perry, or Huckabee because it think it less likely that they will lead the pack.