Yes, I predicted in 2012 (end of that entry) that this 2016 election would go to a Republican. At the time, it was more of a gut feeling combined with the fact that Mitt Romney won two more states in 2012 than John McCain had won in 2008, while Obama didn’t gain any states. The Republican victories in the 2014 mid-terms helped bolster my opinion.
It doesn’t help that Democratic presidents rarely follow each other — the last time a Democrat was elected president following a two-term Democratic presidency was Franklin Roosevelt (succeeding himself via a third term). If you don’t count FDR replacing himself, then you have to go back to 1856 to find the last time a Democrat succeeded a Democrat in the presidency.
(We can’t count LBJ succeeding JFK, or Truman succeeding FDR, since those were via death.)
Republicans have a little more luck at this; you only have to go back to 1988 when the first George Bush was elected to follow Ronald Reagan.
For both parties, it’s fairly common to lose the presidency after having it. The reason for this is fairly simple, I think. Neither party has a majority of the voters. To win the presidency, one party or the other has to draw in the independents, the moderates, and even a few third-party advocates. That group of people in the middle swings back and forth, apparently on whims, possibly based on disappointment with the status quo. “Someone new” is the mantra of that group, according to most presidential elections, unless an incumbent is involved.
This “someone new” philosophy seems to have expanded, explaining the surprising popularity of both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump this year. Though Sanders is not new to politics, he’s new to nationwide name-recognition. Trump is not new to national attention, but is new to politics. Though both are running as members of the two main parties, both are seen as outsiders and “non-establishment”.
On the Democratic side, Clinton still leads most national polls, though Sanders has seen recent gains. Most pundits predict Clinton will be the nominee. Despite multiple polls showing Sanders does better than Clinton against leading Republicans, many Democrat voters refuse to believe it and are voting for her anyway.
On the Republican side, it’s starting to look like it will be Donald Trump. He leads in 18 of the 19 national polls conducted since Iowa. Even voters who don’t favor Trump specifically believe he has the best shot of beating a Democrat candidate in November — and I tend to agree with them, especially if it’s against Clinton.
Let’s assume for a moment that these polls and trends will bear out, and the November race is between Trump and Clinton.
Conservative voters dislike Clinton more than liberal voters dislike Trump. (That’s an impression of mine rather than a fact based on polls.) Many Sanders supporters are actually anti-Clinton, so when Sanders drops out they won’t necessarily flock to her side; they might not vote at all. Many have said they’ll vote third-party if Clinton is the nominee. I know a similar plot is playing out on the Republican side: when Carson, Kasich, Cruz, and Rubio drop out, their supporters won’t necessarily get behind Trump either. However, I believe enough of them are anti-Clinton that they’ll vote for Trump anyway, just to make sure she doesn’t win.
Not to mention the big block of unaffiliated voters who tend to vote for the non-incumbent party. Between Trump and Clinton, she is by far the establishment candidate — she’s already lived in the White House for eight years, besides being a senator and Secretary Of State under the current administration.
Of course, I hope I’m wrong about this analysis. I’m often very wrong with my sports predictions, so maybe that will hold true here as well. I might be proven wrong as early as Tuesday.
Other November possibilities exist, of course, including the following (listed in the order of likelihood, in my opinion), with my predictions in parentheses for each of these scenarios:
• Trump vs. Sanders (prediction: Sanders)
• Cruz vs. Clinton (prediction: Cruz)
• Cruz vs. Sanders (prediction: Sanders)
• Rubio vs. Clinton (prediction: Clinton)
• Rubio vs. Sanders (prediction: Sanders)
Yes, I’m predicting Sanders wins against all three leading Republicans, while Clinton loses to Trump or Cruz.
The last four scenarios above ignore the possibility that either Cruz or Rubio is ineligible to run. Some conservatives are beginning to explore this idea. Regressive outlet WND says they aren’t eligible, as does a Republican National Committee member. Conspiracy theory website “Whiteout Press” agrees. The Tea Party Tribune disagrees.
To summarize, I think it’s next-to-certain that the Democratic nominee this year will be Hillary Clinton, and the Republican nominee will be Trump — with some wiggle room; it might be Cruz. And I think either Cruz or Trump will beat Clinton in November.
(Note: “2017” is in the title because the president elected in 2016 won’t take office until 2017.)