You’ll read some thorough, well-researched analysis about what the 2014 midterm election wave means for various potential 2016 presidential candidates. I think the time is right for some guy out in flyover country to whip a quick post off the top of his head.
Hillary Clinton: Doomed, I tell you. Doomed. I’m more convinced that ever she might not run at all. As Senator Rand Paul has been gleefully pointing out, every clutch 2014 race the Clintons took a hand in was a Democrat wipeout, including a few that ended with mushroom-cloud defeats. That’s a far more accurate measure of Hillary’s influence than any exit poll, although having said that, exit polls aren’t looking to good for her either. Look, if there’s one big takeaway from 2014 – especially from comparing big-media polling and analysis to the actual election results – it’s that a vast gulf has opened between the American people and Beltway-media bubble dwellers. A tin-earned clunker of a political candidate with a comically horrible official record, backed by a hallelujah chorus of adoring Washington and New York journalists, pushing an ideology Americans just rejected with electoral flamethrowers, is not a forbidding adversary. On the other hand, Democrats really don’t have anyone but Hillary – they really don’t want to find out what a joke Liz Warren is, everywhere outside of her home state – and the Clinton mob still has a lot of muscle in the Party, so they might be stuck with her.
Rand Paul: As mentioned, he was very quick to deduce that the important point to score from this election is that it was an even bigger defeat for Hillary than for Obama. That’s sharp thinking. He’s serious about this presidential race.
Ted Cruz: Also doing a very good job of both contributing to the GOP tsunami, and putting it in context. Hey, remember how that government shutdown was supposed to be the worst thing ever for Republicans? Voters sure as hell didn’t. Cruz’s enduring strength should teach Republicans an important lesson about not rending their garments and flagellating themselves after a political strategy doesn’t work out. Democrats understand this very well – Obama’s refusal to take responsibility for their midterm drubbing is comically out-of-touch, but he gets the basic point that it never does a party any good to tell the voters, “Hey, you know what, you’re right, we suck.”
Chris Christie: Did you know Republican governors racked up historic wins in the midterm elections, too? I have a feeling the head of the Republican Governors Association will remind you, once primary season begins.
Scott Walker: One of those governors was Scott Walker, who has now been elected about forty times to serve two terms. Democrats couldn’t beat him by flagrantly abusing the law with an out-of-control partisan prosecutor to witch-hunt conservatives right out of the state. They couldn’t even make him frown.
Jeb Bush: It’s going to help him quite a bit that the issue hurting him most among Republican voters – immigration – will probably be settled, or as settled as it ever gets, before he launches a prospective run. Which I don’t think he’ll actually do, because Chris Christie.
Mitt Romney: Not running, but looking to remain relevant by letting everyone except Ann Romney think he might be thinking about considering the possibility of entertaining the notion of running. Any advantage from the past two years of “Romney was right” sentiment sweeping the nation was lost with the realization that he couldn’t beat the guy who just handed Republicans one of the strongest, deepest, broadest election waves in history.
Marco Rubio: Benefits the same way Jeb Bush would, except even more so, because the 2014 earthquake will give him a chance to re-introduce himself to the national electorate on immigration, and I think he’ll take it. Voters are inclined to nod in agreement when Rubio says he has sadly concluded that Barack Obama and his Party cannot be trusted to hold up their end of any “comprehensive immigration reform” deal, so it’s border security or bust. His other strengths remain largely intact. Also, he just happens to have played a significant role in the victory of rising GOP star Joni Ernst, who just happens to have taken the seat of a retiring liberal dinosaur, and that seat just happens to be located in Iowa.
Rick Perry: He’s still Rick Perry, and Texas is even more Texas than it used to be, thanks to the fantastic implosion of Wendy Davis. Don’t underestimate how much credibility he can pick up by besting very low expectations set by his 2012 flameout – which was partially due to a distracting medical condition that no longer seems to be a problem, although Perry is too much of a grown-up to dwell on that as an excuse. American voters are hungry for a grown-up after years of teenage antics in the White House. Perry will also benefit from the ascendance of GOP governors, whose horns he is fond of tooting during campaign speeches. He’s been tuning up a campaign strategy based on emphasizing the success of Republican governors for years. Favorable terrain for that strategy has been created.
Joe Biden: ROFLMAO
Ben Carson: I like Ben Carson a lot, but I’m very skeptical of the “outsider candidate” concept, a romantic notion that appeals to voters tired of political reality for understandable reasons. He strikes me as a much keener student of politics than many other outsiders have been, so I have some faith that he’ll make a reasoned call about whether to actually run or not… and I don’t think he’ll do it just to take a few wild swings at the other guys in a pointless showboat primary run. The midterms will give him a lot of very useful data to study, on everything from specific issues to demographic trends.
Somebody Else: If Somebody Else wants a realistic chance of being the candidate, he or she had better be putting a solid organization together right now… and had best have some good war stories about what they did during the epic Battle of 2014.