The 2016 presidential election is less than two years away and the field of potential candidates on the Republican side is growing by the day. Expanding faster than “The Blob” that haunted a young Steve McQueen, the potential Republican debate stage might not be big enough to hold everyone that plans to run.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum made it official on May 27 when he announced his candidacy for the Republican nominee for president. With Santorum now in the mix, he marks the seventh official Republican who has declared their candidacy, with others expected to follow. Some candidates have more credibility in the eyes of voters, and some don’t have much of a chance at all. In descending order, here is a list of the likelihood each candidate has of winning the Republican primary.
8. Ben Carson –
Dr. Ben Carson became a household name and a conservative hero during a speech at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast. As Carson blasted President Obama and “Obamacare,” he quickly became a favorite with Tea Party conservatives, and has been a regular on the Fox News Channel. Carson might be the biggest long shot of all the Republicans running, as he has no experience running for any office, and has made comments that even strong conservatives have cringed at. Though Carson has made some noise in recent polls, he isn’t expected to be a serious threat as time moves on.
7. Carly Fiorina –
As the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard from 1999 to 2004, Carly Fiorina was responsible for the company’s questionable merger with Compaq, the outsourcing of 30,000 American jobs, and a stock that plummeted. After her time in the private sector ended in disaster, Fiorina became an advisor to John McCain’s failed 2008 presidential campaign, and in 2010, challenged Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer for her Senate seat. She lost again. Some in the Republican party are welcoming to Fiorina, as she gives the party a much needed female voice, especially with the expected success of Hillary Clinton for the Democrats. With only that to hold on to, don’t look for Fiorina to have much success.
6. Mike Huckabee –
As the governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007, Mike Huckabee was the prime example of social conservatism and a mirror image of the Republican platform. With a strong hold with social conservatives and evangelical Christians, Huckabee should do well with that wing of the party, but to more moderate voters, the former governor could struggle. Adding fuel to the fire is Huckabee’s latest comments in regards to Josh Duggar, the co-star of the TLC hit show “19 Kids and Counting,” where it was revealed that the 27 year old Christian had molested five underage girls in 2002 and 2003, including his own sisters. Huckabee had some success in 2008, but took a pass in 2012, opting to recharge his batteries for 2016. With his extreme stance on religion, it might be a bit of a turn off to those who don’t feel as strongly.
5. Rand Paul –
As a current Senator of Kentucky, and son of former Texas Rep. Ron Paul, Rand Paul is looked at as a bit different than his Republican counterparts. In breaking with the traditional party line on issues like foreign policy, the National Security Agency, the criminal justice system, and the drug war, Paul has the ability to appeal to millennials and younger voters who might be turned off by more traditional candidates. What might win Paul the youth vote, could ultimately doom him in the end. It just seems too improbable that a Republican can win a primary election and not be a full fledged war hawk.
4. Rick Santorum –
As a former Senator of the more liberal state of Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum was able to win 11 states in the Republican primary in 2012, including winning the highly touted Iowa caucus. Like Huckabee, Santorum is a die-hard conservative Christian and has made a name for himself in conservative circles for his anti-gay marriage, and anti-abortion stance. One of Santorum’s major downfalls is that he lacks a filter, and often finds himself making controversial comments that land him in hot water.
3. Ted Cruz –
One of Ted Cruz’s biggest issues is that he is the face of the Republican government shutdown of 2013. Though many on the right remain in denial, moderates from center right and to the left view Cruz as what is wrong with Washington. Despite this, the Texas Representative appeals to extreme conservatives and is loved by the Tea Party. Cruz previously served as the deputy assistant attorney general in the George W. Bush administration, something that could be a positive or negative depending on one’s view point. While he would be viewed as a major underdog in a general election, Cruz has a chance in the Republican primary.
2. Marco Rubio –
Representing the Sunshine State of Florida in the U.S. Senate, Marco Rubio found himself in the mainstream by winning that seat during the Tea Party wave of Congress in 2010. As a strong hawk on foreign policy, Rubio has the support of more established Republicans, and because he is a second generation Cuban American, he provides a much needed attraction to Hispanics that the party is starving for.
1. Jeb Bush –
Jeb Bush is the only name on this list who hasn’t officially announced his candidacy, and he lands at the top spot. Bush is expected to announce sometime during the Summer, and once he does, he will instantly be considered the favorite to challenge the likely Democratic challenger, Hillary Clinton. Bush was the governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007, and was popular among the state’s Republican voters. Established Republicans love Bush, as do the majority of Wall Street donors who support conservative candidates. In the age of unlimited money in elections, Bush has the clear advantage over all others running for the nomination. The elephant in the room is something Bush really has no control over; his brother. George W. Bush is still fresh in the minds of the American people, and the disaster that he left the country in after he left the White House is something that most people won’t forget anytime soon. With a financial system in ruins, two failed, unpaid for wars, and a national debt skyrocketing, Jeb Bush’s biggest challenge will be trying to get voters to forget what family he is a member of.