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Updated on March 13, 2013

This article was originally published the day after the 2012 election. Updates should be forthcoming as the race evolves and gets closer to 2016. We can't know what the Democratic Party will be looking for in 2016. A lot will depend on a second Obama term, policies that his administration might implement, and the success of those policies. There are candidates hyped who will choose not to run and there will be unknowns who throw their hats into the arena. As this hub is updated, I will make changes and note where those changes have been made in the evolving race. As of now, this is how the race looks.


Hillary Clinton

Why Her?: The former first lady, Senator from New York and Secretary of State is well known, popular, and has experience that would make her highly qualified to be President. After losing to Obama in 2008 in a close Primary, many feel she was robbed and that we are overdue for a woman as President.

Primary Chances: Clinton would likely roll through all comers in the primary. In the 2008 primary she was seen as the establishment candidate, and Obama as running to her left. After eight years of center right policy from Obama, voters might be feeling more realistic.

General Election Chances: She can be seen as cold, but her husband would negate that if he campaigned with her. If people are feeling good about Obama in 2016, this would help any Democratic candidate and the election of a woman would be historic.

Mark Warner

Why Him?: A former governor and current Senator from the swing state of Virginia, Warner knows Washington and knows how to govern. He is also famously moderate, which will make him a favorite of the Democratic establishment. He has been reluctant to run, but his party keeps pushing him.

Primary Chances: With Clinton running he would not stand much of a chance, but if she were to decline he would suddenly be the frontrunner and the establishment pick. If an upstart runs to his left he could find some trouble but could still win the nomination.

General Election Chances: There is a good chance that Warner could hold the map as Obama has redrawn it. He would almost certainly win Virginia and appeal to independents.

Andrew Cuomo

Why Him?: The governor of New York has been hyped as a contender since he signed a bill to legalize gay marriage in his state.

Primary Chances: Of the three big frontrunners Cuomo is the most cozy with Wall Street and the most economically conservative. If Hillary Clinton and Mark Warner can attack you from the left then you have issues in the Democratic Primary.

General Election Chances: Being from reliably blue New York will not help him. A good Republican candidate could beat him, unless social issues were the main thrust of the campaign.

Dark Horses

Martin O'Malley

Why Him?: The current governor of Maryland is a rare thing in the current Democratic Party, an actual progressive. He has closed budget deficits by raising taxes and been reliably socially progressive.

Primary Chances: If Clinton declines to run he will almost certainly find himself in the top tier. The left wing of the party will be looking for a champion this time and O'Malley could be it. Without Clinton his chances of winning go up considerably.

General Election Chances: O'Malley raised taxes considerably as Governor of Maryland and this will be where the Republicans attack him. Currently the public is largely in favor of tax increases on the wealthy, how they feel about that in four years will color how this tactic will work. Being from Maryland will not be a geographic advantage.

Elizabeth Warren

Why Her?: Warren has become a hero to the left and having defeated Scott Brown in Massachusetts she is a Senator now. If Clinton does not run, or even if she does, there may be a push for Warren to get into the race.

Primary Chances: It is hard to say. Warren could be a figure like Obama, or she could have a hard time raising money because of her progressive views. If Clinton declines to run her chances of winning go up considerably but getting into the top tier would be tough unless the nomination is largely up for grabs.

General Election Chances: As far as personality she would be a great General Election Candidate, but she might have fund raising problems and her lack of experience would be criticized. This did not work on Obama however. Being from New England will not help her in the swing states but being a female candidate might tip women even further to the Democrats.

Brian Schweitzer

Why Him?: The Governor of Montana is one of the most popular Governors in the country, has improved Montana through many progressive policies and has used his veto to stand up to the Republican legislature there.

Primary Chances: Schweitzer could possibly be one of the best candidates the Democrats could put up. He could mean trouble for Warner or Cuomo and maybe even for Clinton. If he could build his name and use his theatrical personality well in the primaries he could win. Or he could possibly end up with a fate similar to Howard Dean in 2004.

General Election Chances: Schweitzer would win Montana and could play very well in the Midwest and even some other states that the Democrats don't normally win. A match up between him and Chris Christie would be highly entertaining.

Amy Klobacher

Why Her?: If Clinton declines there will be strong interest in a female candidate and the progressive Minnesota Senator has been mentioned more than most.

Primary Chances: She is relatively unknown, and her chances will depend largely on how the field shapes up. Like almost every other candidate, she has a better chance without Clinton in the race.

General Election Chances: In the general election she would be a big question mark. Being from Minnesota would not help. Still, she could fair well against most Republican contenders, especially if the election became about social issues and civil rights.

Wild Card

Joe Biden

Why Him?: Normally the Vice President is expected to run but Dick Cheney broke from this tradition. Biden likely will as well, but with a strong debate performance against Paul Ryan and many crediting him with pushing the administration to support gay marriage, maybe Biden will think his star has risen enough to run.

Primary Chances: Biden would probably do a little better than last time but it is hard to imagine him doing worse.

General Election Chances: He could possibly beat a weak Republican candidate but definitely not a strong one.

Al Gore

Why Him?: If Clinton chooses not to run then there is a good chance that the Democratic establishment will panic and try to get Gore to run again. Even with Clinton, Obama and Edwards fighting it out in 2008, there was still a movement to get Gore back.

Primary Chances: If he ran again he would be a force to be reckoned with. If Clinton declined he would slip right into her frontrunner spot. His strong identification with a single issue, global warming could cost him but this is a Democratic Primary after all, and it could still be his to lose.

General Election Chances: The global warming issue could cost him more here than before, but there is a strong case to be made that the country made a huge mistake not electing Gore in 2000 and this would be remembered.

Deval Patrick

Why Him?: The first African American Governor of Massachusetts, he also was part of Bill Clinton's administration and has a compelling story.

Primary Chances: If everybody mentioned in this field ran, he would have a hard time of it. His narrative is very similar to that of Obama, which is a plus in some ways but will not make him seem fresh. It would be surprising to many if the Democratic Party nominated an African American again immediately after the previous time, but they did do a century of straight white guys, so anything is possible.

General Election Chances: About as good as any candidate who could possibly get the nomination. Being from Massachusetts is not a plus though. He would be competitive with most Republicans.

Rahm Emanuel

Why Him?: The former Obama chief of staff and current mayor of Chicago has gotten mentioned in some circles and he is certainly ambitious enough.

Primary Chances: A mayor has little chance of winning a presidential primary but add to that that many of the left hate Emanuel for coddling Wall Street and insulting progressive concerns while in the Obama administration. His chances of winning do not look good.

General Election Chances: He would make Joe Biden seem like a good choice.


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    • Robephiles profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago


      1. Obama won a greater number of votes in BOTH elections than Bill Clinton did. Bill Clinton was not an overwhelmingly popular President while he was in office. In fact, Republicans said almost identical things about him that they do about Obama. it is in retrospect that Clinton is popular.

      2. you continue to say that Obama had done things on both his terms. As I write this Obama's second term has been going on for eight months. Making any evaluation of Obama's second term just a bit premature.

      3. "but if you don't think that American's are tired of this administration yet then I would suggest that you pick up a newspaper."

      According to polls the Presidents approval rating is much higher than the approval rating of congress . This is not to say that he is especially popular but that people are much less happy with congress. Polls also show that the Democratic party still retains a slight favorability with the public over the Republicans. In the last election The Democratic congressional candidates received over a million votes more than Republican candidates. These polls can all be found in a newspapers.

      4. "Any by the way, making generalizations about political trends doesn't make you an ideologue LOL. That's what political scientists do"

      If you mean by make broad generalizations analyze trends through statistical analysis. The reason your claim is a broad generalization is because a statistical analysis DOES NOT back up the claim when you start to look at it in detail.

      5. This hub makes no claims about the general election in 2016. It does handicap the general election viability of individual candidates. I wrote a separate hub about the Republican candidates. There are a few Republican candidates who could win in a general election. they tend to be the ones who would have the toughest time making it through the primary.

    • Veritas Separatim profile image

      Luke A. Hall 

      5 years ago from Ohio

      Robephiles: Comparing Obama's successor to Clinton is laughable. There is no comparison. Obama's second term has been a disaster... and he wasn't re-elected a second time because he did amazing things in his first term, he was re-elected because the GOP hasn't fielded a decent candidate in the past two elections! Clinton was one of the most popular presidents ever- hell even a lot of conservatives voted for him in the second election. Why? Because (through the House) he passed largely moderate-conservative legislation. Obama... not so much.

      Whether or not what Obama has done is being portrayed as accurate, the impression is that he walked over conservatives like a rug during both of his terms. His house is in shambles (DOJ, State dept, NSA, IRS, etc). I'm not saying that that is a totally fair portrayal of his presidency, but if you don't think that American's are tired of this administration yet then I would suggest that you pick up a newspaper.

      Any by the way, making generalizations about political trends doesn't make you an ideologue LOL. That's what political scientists do. Anyway, we can agree to disagree. Sure, there are exceptions to the rule, but my guess would be that if the GOP runs a good candidate the Elephants will win in a landslide. History supports my opinion, but I guess time will tell. As I said, good luck.

    • chefsref profile image

      Lee Raynor 

      5 years ago from Citra Florida

      I think the election will be determined by who the Republicans nominate. They could well make a Democratic win inevitable. I hope they pick a slate from the the ones who ran in 2012. I think a ticket of Michele Bachmann with Sarah Palen for VP again would be ideal, maybe throw in Christine "I'm not a witch" ODonnel for AG and Rick "Ban Contraception" Santorum to run Health and Human Services although Todd "Legitimate rape' Akin deserves something, maybe Surgeon General.

      Snark aside, I don't see anyone that could stand up to Hillary and she scares the sheet out of Republicans,

    • Robephiles profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      "If you know anything about politics then you will agree that traditionally eight years of one party in office will cause a firesale and the tide will shift to the opposing party."

      Ideologues love to make broad generalizations about politics and lay claims about them as if there was some kind of scientific truth about them. Where is this eight year shift in history? Republicans wouldn't have lost the White House to Clinton if it wasn't for Perot and they had controlled it for twelve years. Gore got a greater percentage of the popular vote in 2000 than Clinton got in either of the elections that he actually WON. So after eight years of Clinton, to say that people were tired of Democrats would be laughable.

      Your claim that any candidates ties to the Obama administration would hurt them in the next election is laughable considering Obama just won an easy re-election after four years of Republicans calling him a failure. This is just another out of touch critique from a Republican using tired outdated talking points.

    • Veritas Separatim profile image

      Luke A. Hall 

      5 years ago from Ohio

      Clinton and Mark Warner are the ONLY people on your list capable of winning an election next season although Clinton's ties to the Obama administration will make her an extremely unpopular choice. If you know anything about politics then you will agree that traditionally eight years of one party in office will cause a firesale and the tide will shift to the opposing party.

      You democrats need to put forth a moderate in the next election to win because if not moderates will swing Red in droves- especially if the Republicans can put forth a true fiscal conservative (which they apparently have lacked for the past two election cycles.)

      My guess is that whoever wins your primary will be facing off against Bobby Jindhal or Chris Christie on the Red side of the ticket which is stiff competition. Not to mention that unless Obama pulls a hail marry off late in the 4th quarter you guys are going to have to fight one hell of a disastrous presidential legacy just like the Elephants did after George W. Good luck.

    • safiq ali patel profile image

      safiq ali patel 

      6 years ago from United States Of America

      Hilary Clinton for President of the United States of America? Well maybe. I was just thinking yesterday that perhaps Mrs Clinton should throw her hat in the ring again in 2016. If rules allow. But she'd have to clinch the nomination for the Democrats first.


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