Jessica DeLoach Sabin: The Early Line On The 2016 Presidential Field

by Jessica DeLoach Sabin ([email protected]) 134 views 

Just recently, Mike Huckabee brought his weekly Fox News television show to a close in order to begin meeting with potential donors and supporters so that he may gauge his support for launching a 2016 campaign. The move, which had been anticipated for months, also came shortly after Jeb Bush’s announcement to explore a bid of his own.

While no other Republican contenders have formally indicated their intentions to run, the potential candidacies of Huckabee and Bush alone serve as a solid representation of the conservative spectrum that will be represented within the 2016 primaries.

Bush, who has often been criticized by the far-right members of his party as “too moderate” and even sometimes as “too liberal” due to his support of comprehensive immigration reform and “Common Core” education policies, comes from a key state where he remains incredibly popular and has significant relationships with many key voter demographics.

He also polls consistently ahead of Senator Marco Rubio, another potential contender in 2016.

Huckabee, too, has found himself on the receiving end of criticism from members of his party over his brand of politics – more particularly, his approach to foreign affairs by more isolationist-leaning voters.

His overarching battle, however, remains the same as it was in 2008, which is focusing too hard on a far-right approach to some of our nation’s most hotly debated issues like abortion or same-sex marriage. Should he go too far out on social issues for the sake of maintaining the conservative evangelical Christian vote, he may miss out on other key demographics, which currently seem to be best represented by the politics of Jeb Bush.

Huckabee’s recent actions, however, do indicate an awareness of the qualities he must promote in order to disrupt his 2008 persona from creeping into his potential 2016 bid, as he has recently focused on bolstering his foreign policy credentials by spending time abroad.

In an effort to accurately arrange certain known political figures on a conservative spectrum, Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight Politics, created a “conservatism scorecard” which was based on an analysis of fundraising, congressional voting records and public statements on issues.

The “scorecard” featured many plausible GOP candidates for the 2016 elections and ranked Bush similarly in ideology to moderates John McCain and Mitt Romney while Huckabee was ranked closer to Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. The individuals who were noted as the least conservative were former Utah Governor John Huntsman and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

The alignment with McCain and Romney is a good sign for Bush, as both individuals have one great detail in common: They both received the GOP’s nomination to seek the presidency.

If this spectrum is still reflective of where most conservative Americans feel most comfortable placing their votes, then Jeb Bush may very well be their next presidential nominee. When compared to Huckabee, this possibility becomes even greater when one considers how the former Arkansas governor’s inclination to double-down on his viewpoints over social issues will coincide with the support and favorability that many Americans have indicated over the same issues over time.

Only time will tell how the GOP’s race for the presidency will shape up.

There have been rumblings that Mitt Romney may embark upon a third campaign for the office and while he has a losing record, he is still well financed, well connected and has had plenty of time to learn from his mistakes.

That said, none of these individuals have the experience, network, and the consolidated infrastructure of party support that Hillary Clinton already has in place should she decide to officially declare herself a candidate for president.

The ball is clearly in her court and she has the luxury of building her stature and frontrunner status while the Republican field bloodies itself during the long primary season.