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Democratic Presidential Candidates 2016

Updated on May 19, 2015

Democrat Presidential Candidates 2016

With President Obama back in the White House through 2016 after defeating Mitt Romney in the 2012 Presidential election, speculation is already beginning to swirl about potential Democratic Presidential Candidates in 2016. After all, Barack Obama was a relatively unknown State Senator from Illinois when he gave a well-received speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention, an event which many think helped propel his eventual nomination in 2008. This hub will look at the current front runners to become the Democratic Presidential nominee in 2016. With Republicans hoping to return to the White House after 8 straight years of Democratic control, 2016 figures to be a close fought race for the presidency.

The Heavyweight Contender

Hilary Clinton

Why she may run: Hilary Clinton is widely expected to resign of Secretary of State and will have plenty of time to recuperate before the 2016 election if she decides to go for the nomination. She has broad experience at many levels of government, serving as a Senator from New York, and came within a few votes of winning the presidential nomination in 2008 before eventually losing to President Obama.

Strengths: Name recognition, fundraising ability, experience. Hilary has been in the public eye for over 20 years and will instantly attract millions of dollars in donations (and millions more in free media coverage) if she decides to go for the nomination. Recent polls have put her approval rating at over 66% among all voters, and her views generally fit in with the mainstream of the Democratic Party. Additionally, many strong candidates will probably stay out of the race if she decides to run.

Weaknesses: Hilary will be 69 years old in 2016, which is a bit on the older side historically for successful presidential candidates, though she would still be younger than Ronald Reagan was when he was elected in 1980 (and younger than John McCain was in 2008). She also will have to contend with renewed reporting of some of the scandals that plagued her husband during his time as President.

Odds of winning the nomination: 95% if she decides to run. For all other candidates the provided odds assume that Hilary won't run.

No Hilary, No Problem

Joe Biden

Brief Biography: Our current Vice President, Joe Biden has served as the country's second in command under President Obama since 2008. He previously served for 30+ years as a Senator from Delaware.

Strengths: Biden is an experienced campaigner and is relatively well liked by many Americans. He will have the advantage of incumbency and experience over most of his rivals and should be a formidable fundraiser given his connections and relationship with President Obama.

Weaknesses: Biden was a non-factor in the 2008 Democratic Presidential election, and despite his current popularity, there's not much to suggest he's dramatically increased his profile among voters. He'll also have to counter the public's image of him as a "lovable guy" who is prone to gaffes and mistakes in order to make a serious bid for the presidency.

Bernie Sanders

Brief Biography: A Senator from Vermont, Sanders has a long history of supporting progressive political causes and announced his candidacy for President in 2015.

Strengths: Sanders has seen a surge of support from "netroots" activists and online communities like Reddit and Actblue that tend to lean progressive. His credibility as a long-time progressive will make him very attractive to Democratic primary voters who think Clinton is too centrist and are worried about ties between the Clintons and big business.

Weaknesses: Sanders is a self-declared socialist from one of the smallest states in the country. He has zero chance of winning a general election, and even if many primary voters may like his take on the issues, they aren't going to vote for him and risk someone like Scott Walker or Ted Cruz taking the White House. He also will have problems competing with the massive donor base and name recognition that Hilary has established through her years in Washington and the public eye.

Mark Warner

Brief Biography: Currently serving as a Senator from Virginia, Mark Warner was the governor of Virginia from 2000-2006.

Strengths: Warner was a wildly popular Governor in Virginia, leaving office with an approval rating over 70% in 2006. That appeal translated into his run for the Senate in 2008, as he dominated opponent Jim Gilmore 65% to 34%, an unheard of margin for a Democrat. Warner also a considerable private fortune (estimates of around $200 million) that he could put to use in a campaign if he decides to run, and has connections in the tech and business worlds that could give him a leg-up in fundraising over his opponents.

Weaknesses: Warner has relatively few legislative accomplishments from his first four years in the Senate. He also has limited foreign policy experience, though the same will be true of most of the candidates described below.

Andrew Cuomo

Brief Biography: The Governor of New York since 2010, Andrew Cuomo previously served as the Attorney General for New York State from 2007-2010 and as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Clinton

Strengths: Cuomo is popular in his home state and has shown the ability to reach across the aisle to get legislation passed. He also has signed legislation reducing spending on government employees in New York, an accomplishment which may be appealing for more budget conscious voters in 2016. Finally, Cuomo has relatively close ties to the financial industry, which could help his fundraising ability in the early stages of the campaign.

Weaknesses: New York politicians have historically underperformed on the national stage, the last New York born politician to become President was Franklin Roosevelt. Cuomo helped pass a bill legalizing gay marriage in New York, an accomplishment which may hurt him in some more socially conservative primary states in the South and Midwest, though this should be much less of an issue that it would have been even 5 or 10 years ago.

Martin O'Malley

Brief Biography: The current governor of Maryland and former Mayor of Baltimore, Martin O'Malley is strongly rumored to be eyeing a run for the White House in 2016.

Strengths: Governor O'Malley has been a leader on issues such as gay rights, education reform, and transportation/infrastructure development as the Governor of Maryland. He is the current chair of Democratic Governor's Association, a position which was also held by former President Bill Clinton as well as past presidential candidates Howard Dean and Bill Richardson,

Weaknesses: Maryland is traditionally a very liberal state, and O'Malley may have a tough time appealing to voters in more conservative primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire. He also has limited experience at the national level. While this historically hasn't been a problem for Presidential candidates, both parties have trended towards nominating politicians with some experience in Congress or in the Executive branch in recent years.

The Unknown Challengers

A lot more potential candidates will emerge after the 2012 election. While nominees won't start officially running until 2015, candidates will begin to organize trips to key states like Iowa and New Hampshire and will need to start raising money to realistically have a chance at making a run for the nomination. Other potential candidates include former Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emannuel, Antonio Villaraigosa, the former mayor of Los Angeles, and many others. Follow this hub and the best political blogs online to get up to date information about the potential nominees!


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    • Waldo Numbly profile image

      Waldo Henry Hiram King 

      6 years ago from Mountain Wilderness

      Can Obama run for a third term?

    • Tom T profile image

      Tom T 

      6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I believe the Benghazi fiasco will eliminate Clinton. My bet is if Romney wins, it will be a much more moderate Democrat probably southerner. If Obama win's, lay odds on someone more liberal like Biden or Cuomo.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 

      7 years ago from Ohio, USA

      "She has broad experience at many levels of government..."

      Seriously? She was married to the president for 8 years, then she carpetbagged her way to a Senate seat in a state where she never lived, and she's been Secretary of State for less than 4 years. That's 2 levels of federal government. No state, no local. One elected position and one appointed position and one by marriage position.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      7 years ago from Arizona

      Interesting prognostication. Who knows what will be. Hope the country is doing well by then..That's what has most of my concern. Thanks for putting together some interesting thoughts.


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