Making predictions about politics is tricky. It’s tricky because doing so usually involves making certain assumptions about events that have not yet happened and then predicating said predictions on even more assumptions about the future. To make predictions about an upcoming presidential election is a feat in and of itself, but to do so for an election cycle that’s more than four years out is fraught with even more complications. Despite having illuminated all of the potential pitfalls, I’m going to go ahead and do just that, and then we’ll see where the chips fall.
I’m going to make a few assumptions about the coming election cycle, and then set up a scenario for how Democrats could potentially structure their next four presidential campaigns. As of now, I do believe that the President will be elected roughly along the same lines as he was in 2008, albeit on slightly smaller margins. I think that Democrats will retain control of the Senate, and they may even pick up a few seats in the House. In conjunction with a moderately improving economy, voter approval of the President will remain steady throughout the duration of his second term, and he’ll be able to cajole, threaten or force an obstinate array of Republicans in Congress to pass a series of relatively major legislative packages, likely after the midterm elections in 2014 on such issues as the tax code, the budget, and possible immigration, energy, healthcare and education.
It’s not going to be the lofty rhetoric to which we’ve become accustomed from him, but the President is going to have to double down on Congressional opposition in order to justify voter approval of him. Bare knuckled, transactional politics will have to be the lynchpin that girds the duration of his second term. So then, what?
Well, we then have the prospect of an open Democratic field. Vice President Joe Biden has said that he’s not going to rule out another run, but then again, neither has he explicitly embraced the prospect. There’s a whole slew of other candidates that could offer a credible run for the White House, such as Govs. Martin O’Malley of Maryland and Andrew Cuomo of New York. But the elephant in the room is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Long story short: if Hill runs, there’s not going to be a contested primary contest for the Democrats. Bill is still the de facto elder statesman of the Democratic party, and his speech at the convention did a lot to underpin just that position.
As Republicans are wont to nominate the guy who is next in line, I have a feeling that we’ll be seeing Congressman Ryan again. He’s young, he has seniority in the party, and, apparently, he’s their ‘ideas’ guy. My preference would be a Hillary Clinton/Andrew Cuomo ticket, which, assuming that Hillary did well in office, would make Cuomo the most sensible candidate in 2024, which would give us a shot at occupying the White House for the foreseeable future, a period of one party dominance that may be inevitable because of demographics and extremism within the GOP.
But, who’s to know? I’m probably getting ahead of myself, and there’s lots that can happen in the coming two months, let alone the next twelve years. But I do know that the Democrats have a shot at putting their guy (or gal) in the Oval for every contest that’s coming up, and that if I were a Republican, I’d either start thinking about how to moderate my own party, or switching parties.