2016 Republican Handicapping, or the Short-Straw Lottery

As promised, below is my amateur handicapping for the race for the 2016 Republican nomination for President of the United States.  Again, the major caveat here is that I am assuming, because I am delusional an optimist, that the party has no choice but to move to the middle, so that informs my oddsmaking.

I would still vote for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) in a heartbeat, but something tells me he won’t win (or even compete) for the GOP nomination.

(* – rising stars)


  • Gov. Chris Christie (NJ) 2:1 – Demonstrated bipartisan support of the President after Sandy; vocal representative of the moderate side of the party and Vice Chair of Republican Governors Association.
  • *Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) 3:1 – A thinly-veiled olive branch to both young voters and Hispanics; the closest thing we have to Barack Obama.
  • Former Gov. Jeb Bush (FL) 5:1 – A popular moderate governor of a critical electoral state; his brother’s legacy will likely be resurrected as foil to Obama’s eight years.
  • Former Gov. Jon Huntsman (UT) 7:1 – With strong record as Governor, strong private sector resume, and strong foreign policy experience, Huntsman could be best hope for moderate GOP.  (Maybe 2012 would have been different if he had a longer look…)
  • Former Something Herman Cain (GA) 9-9-9:1 – Just kidding.
  • Sen. Rob Portman (OH) 10:1 – Those who wish he would have been Mitt’s VP will test his electability as the intellectual and seasoned alternative to Christie’s braggadocio and Rubio’s inexperience.
  • *Sen. John Thune (SD) 10:1 – Floated as POTUS candidate since beating Tom Daschle in 2004; GOP rising star.
  • Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (TX) 12:1 (retiring) – Easily (IMO) the strongest female candidate in the party; maybe too socially conservative but strong record in Senate.


  • Former Mayor Clint Eastwood (CA) 15:1 – Just kidding – these are the odds are that he will be alive in 2016.
  • *Rep. Eric Cantor (VA)/*Rep. Paul Ryan (WI) 15:1 – Too conservative on social issues, but if these issues are off the table (unlikely) and progress is made to achieve compromise, they still belong to the next generation of Republican leadership.
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC) 18:1 – Has always been one of GOP’s most moderate Senators, in line with John McCain pre- and post-2008.
  • Gov. Tom Corbett (PA)/Gov. John Kasich (OH)/ Gov. Bob McDonnell (VA)/Gov. Rick Scott (FL) 20:1 – Mostly moderate governors of demographically-shifting states, all essential for GOP victory.
  • Gov. Mitch Daniels (IN) 22:1 (retiring) – Declined 2012 run for family reasons; 2016 might be perfect timing for smart, moderate Midwestern Republican.
  • Gov. Bobby Jindal (LA) 25:1 – Still hanging around as an experienced, minority candidate, but would need to run the table.  Incoming Chair of Republican Governors Association.
  • Sec. Condoleezza Rice (AL) 35:1 – As a DU alum, I’d love to see it, but unlikely as a top-tier candidate.
  • Former Gov. Mitt Romney (MA) 50:1 – Extremely unlikely that 1) he would run again and 2) that he would win nomination again.

Darkhorses (50+:1):

  • Sen. Bob Corker (TN)
  • *Gov. Luis Fortuno (PR)
  • *Rep. Sam Graves (MO)
  • Gov. Susana Martinez (NM)
  • Gov.-Elect Mike Pence (IN)
  • Gov. Brian Sandoval (NV)
  • Gov. Scott Walker (WI)

Eliminated (as too conservative, incompetent or both):

  • *Sen. Kelly Ayotte (NH)
  • Rep. Michelle Bachmann (MN)
  • Speaker John Boehner (OH)
  • Sen. Ted Cruz (TX)
  • Sen. Jim DeMint (OK)
  • Former Rep. Newt Gringich (GA)
  • *Gov. Nikki Haley (SC)
  • Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (AR)
  • Former Gov. Sarah Palin (AK)
  • Sen. Rand Paul (KY)
  • Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty (MN)
  • Gov. Rick Perry (TX)
  • Former Sen. Rick Santorum (PA)


  1. Moe Durrat says:

    The Bowtie, why would you leave Former Governor Gary Johnson off of your list? Just the other day, you wrote about how the Republican party needs to get in touch with the modern Republican. I would submit that he epitomizes that persona. He only picked up the Libertarian nomination because he was shunned by the out-of-touch Republican establishment and not allowed into the primary (or CPD for that matter) debates. Is it because he supports legalizing Marijuana?

  2. Not at all. I left him off because he isn’t a Republican, by his own admission. Yes, a candidate like Johnson would be a pretty formidable contender in a moderate iteration of the party, but Johnson himself is a Libertarian now. If he reidentifies as a Republican, I will gladly include him in future handicappings, despite my contention that the party will never forgive him for what they believe he did to assist an Obama victory.

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