Four reasons so many Republicans are running in 2016

BY , , and   January 26, 2015 at 9:38 AM EDT
A voter waits to vote in a polling place. Image by Brand X Pictures/ Getty Images

A voter waits to vote in a polling place. 2016 could include even more Republican primary candidates than 2012 or 2008. Image by Brand X Pictures/ Getty Images

The Morning Line

Today in the Morning Line:

  • A weekend full of GOP 2016

  • At least 17 Republicans have indicated their interest in running this cycle
  • Money, attention, the Obama effect, and history are all reasons so many are throwing their hats in the ring
  • What to watch in Congress this week and the president’s ANWR action
  • Republicans itching to start 2016 campaign: A slew of Republican hopefuls spoke at Rep. Steve King’s Iowa Freedom Summit Saturday, and then, on Sunday, some also made their way to an event in Palm Springs, Calif., organized by the Koch Brothers. The Koch event included a closing panel in front of 450 potential donors with Sens. Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio. There is already a veritable caravan of Republicans saying they’re “interested” or “actively exploring” a presidential bid. By our count, there are at least 17 right now in the mix (in alphabetical order): John Bolton, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, John Kasich, George Pataki, Paul, Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Rubio, Rick Santorum, Donald Trump, and Scott Walker. (At the King event, Palin teased that she’s “seriously interested” in running in 2016.)

    Why so many potential Republican candidates? It’s hard to believe it’s possible, but 2016 could include even more Republican primary candidates than 2012 or 2008. So why are so many running or at least floating that they’re serious at this point and so early? A few reasons:

    (1) Money: More than $2 billion was spent on the 2012 presidential election. It’s sure to be even higher than that in 2016, and to raise that much money, candidates have to start early.

    (2) Attention: We are in a new age in politics. There’s a train of thought that says if you’re not in the conversation for president, they won’t pay attention to you. They all want to be president, but if it doesn’t work out, most believe they can at least make money (or get a talk show) off running for it.

    (3) The Obama Effect: Many conservatives are confounded by the idea that Barack Obama, someone who had so little experience before running, could win. (Remember, he was just a state senator four years before running for president.) Many Republicans wake up and look at themselves in the morning and say, “Hey, if he could do it, why not me?” But that can be a dangerous takeaway from Obama’s election. Catching lightning in a bottle twice is nearly impossible. And the fact is, for as much as conservatives have underestimated him, not everyone is Barack Obama — with his personality, oratory, campaign skills, ability to raise money, and perhaps most importantly, an ahead-of-its time campaign.

    (4) History: History is on Republicans’ side. They feel like this is their chance to seize the opportunity. After all, it’s rare in modern history that the incumbent party wins a third White House term. It’s happened just once since 1948 — in 1988 when Republican President George H.W. Bush was elected following fellow Republican Ronald Reagan. In all of American history, it has happened eight times and just twice for Democrats — in 1948 when Truman took over for FDR and in 1836 when Martin Van Buren followed Andrew Jackson.

    What’s more, to show just how rare it would be that Hillary Clinton could be RE-ELECTED if she were to win in 2016, it’s happened just three times in U.S. history that two consecutive presidents from the same party have been re-elected, and it hasn’t happened since 1872 (first, from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison; then Madison to James Monroe; and, finally, Lincoln to Grant). Take a look:

    2012 – D (Obama)
    2008 – D (Obama)
    2004 – R (Bush)
    2000 – R (Bush)
    1996 – D (Clinton)
    1992 – D (Clinton)
    1988 – R (Bush)
    1984 – R (Reagan)
    1980 – R (Reagan)
    1976 – D (Carter)
    1972 – R (Nixon)
    1968 – R (Nixon)
    1964 – D (LBJ)
    1960 – D (Kennedy)
    1956 – R (Eisenhower)
    1952 – R (Eisenhower)
    1948 – D (Truman)
    1944 – D (FDR)
    1940 – D (FDR)
    1936 – D (FDR)
    1932 – D (FDR)
    1928 – R (Hoover)
    1924 – R (Coolidge)
    1920 – R (Harding)
    1916 – D (Wilson)
    1912 – D (Wilson)
    1908 – R (Taft)
    1904 – R/I (TR)
    1900 – R (McKinley)
    1896 – R (McKinley)
    1892 – D (Cleveland)
    1888 – R (Harrison)
    1884 – D (Cleveland)
    1880 – R (Garfield)
    1876 – R (Hayes)
    1872 – R (Grant)
    1868 – R (Grant)
    1864 – R (Lincoln)
    1860 – R (Lincoln)
    1856 – D (Buchanan)
    1852 – D (Pierce)
    1848 – W (Taylor)
    1844 – D (Polk)
    1840 – W (Harrison)
    1836 – D (Van Buren)
    1832 – D (Jackson)
    1828 – D (Jackson)
    1824 – D/R (JQ Adams)
    1820 – D/R (Monroe)
    1816 – D/R (Monroe)
    1812 – D/R/I (Madison)
    1808 – D/R (Madison)
    1804 – D/R/I (Jefferson)
    1800 – D/R (Jefferson)
    1796 – F (Adams)
    1792 – F (Washington)
    1789 – F (Washington)

    In case you missed it, the party convention dates are set. Republicans will meet in Cleveland July 18-21, 2016. Democrats will gather the week of July 25. The final cities under consideration for Democrats are Columbus, New York and Philadelphia.

    Congress this week: For a moment we will imagine a world without a massive snowstorm threatening the East Coast. Should Congress meet as scheduled this week, it will be a busy one. On the official docket for the Senate will be continued debate over the Keystone Pipeline bill, which already passed by the House. A final vote is expected by Friday. But today at least, there may be more audible debate over something else: President Obama’s newly announced proposal to add new protections, including a “wilderness” designation, for large portions of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, known as ANWR. Senate Energy Chair Lisa Murkowski immediately railed against the decision over the weekend. She and fellow Alaska Republicans Senator Dan Sullivan and Rep. Don Young are holding a news conference at 2 p.m. EST.

    What else? Congress has one month to reach a deal with the White House over funding the Department of Homeland Security. As part of that debate, the House is poised to pass a new bill aimed at blocking all illegal immigrations within five years. It could pass there, but it’s not clear that idea could go much farther. Also in the mix, potential moves on trade policy and on an authorization for use of military force against Islamic State.

    To watch today: At 2 p.m. EST, the Congressional Budget Office releases its annual Budget Outlook. This is one of the year’s most important predictors of the major forces in the economy: GDP and government spending/debt. This also could be CBO chief Doug Elmendorf’s last outlook. His term expired a few weeks ago and new House Budget Chairman Tom Price is expected by many to name a new person to head up the office assessing costs of legislation. Elmendorf is slated to testify tomorrow before Price’s committee about the outlook released today.

    Wednesday kicks off a two-day confirmation hearing for Attorney General-nominee Loretta Lynch. She’ll testify then, and on Thursday the committee will hear from other witnesses about the nominations. Thus far, Lynch has not been a controversial nominee in the Senate, but she will likely face sharp questions about immigration policy and the administration’s approach to a variety of issues in the war on terror, including Guantanamo Bay.

    Daily Presidential Trivia: On this day in 1998, President Bill Clinton denied having an affair with a former White House intern. What was Clinton’s famous line from the news conference that later turned out to be a lie? Be the first to tweet us the correct answer using #PoliticsTrivia and you’ll get a Morning Line shout-out. Congratulations to RONNIE‏(@wolf7800_boy) for guessing Thursday’s trivia: Where did Lyndon Johnson, die and where was he born? The answer: LBJ was born and died in Stonewall, Texas, just outside Johnson City.


    • While a large chunk of potential 2016 Republican candidates were in Iowa this weekend, Senators Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul took part in a forum hosted by Freedom Partners, a Koch Brothers supported group. The three senators discussed ways to improve the economy and criticized the income inequality in America.

    • About Christie’s personality-driven campaign, Michael Barbaro writes, “There may be no better laboratory for studying that unconventional approach than his radio call-in show, ‘Ask the Governor,’ a high-wattage rumpus that beams his many moods into the kitchens, cars and smartphones of those he governs.”

    • It’s a trap? At the Steve King Iowa Freedom Summit, Chris Christie hinted that he might not skip Iowa and challenged the conventional wisdom that his Jersey style wouldn’t fly in the Hawkeye State. “If that was the case, why would you keep inviting me back and why would I keep coming back?” Christie said.

    • Christie is launching his PAC, Leadership Matters for America.

    • The Clinton candidacy is all but here, reports Mike Allen, with many top hires already made. As Clinton goes for more of a “big-tent mentality” this time, all eyes are on who will serve as communications director and even potential running mates.

    • Should Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul be worried about his dad?

    • Mitt Romney allies say his Mormon faith has a lot to do with his public service and that he’s likely to make it a more public part of a potential third campaign.



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