The United States of America chooses who it wants as it’s President on the 8th of November 2016. So why you ask am I posting about it now? The fact is the United States votes for a president, an individual, separately to it’s Congress. In Britain the very basic equivalent would be for David Cameron and Ed Miliband to square off to be the official leader of Britain but for the rest of Parliament to be decided in a separate set of elections. However another difference between the British and American system is that the prospective candidates for the U.S. Presidency, unless standing as an independent, will have to win a Primary election before becoming the Presidential candidate for either of the two main parties: the Democrats and the Republicans. The Primary elections kick off in January of 2016 and the entire process from the Iowa Caucus on the 18th January to the Presidential election itself in November is a long, tough road that requires an awful lot of money. As a result candidates who fancy their chances at running in the Primaries and hopefully then in the actual Presidential race all begin to announce themselves now as an official candidate. 2015 is the time to look for ways of raising money and putting together teams that can deliver them victory. I will be writing about the U.S. election and updating you all on the candidates who step into the ring, hoping that they could one day take a seat in the Oval Office. Let’s begin then.
Hilary Clinton (Democrat)
With Barack Obama’s second term winding down Hilary Clinton has stepped up and entered the race as the Democrat heavyweight. The former Secretary of State under Obama and the First Lady to Bill Clinton whilst he was President, Clinton is favoured as the 1st or 2nd choice by 83% of the Democratic Electorate. Such a position of strength can be both a blessing and a curse. The likelihood is that unless someone else comes from nowhere to inspire the Democrat voters Clinton will sail through the Primaries and the sense that she will simply ‘inherit’ the Presidency after Obama could prove to be unpopular with a majority of Americans. Having already been governed by two Bushes and Hilary’s husband there is a danger that Clinton will come across as just another member of a dynastic elite. More recently another potential pitfall is scandal. The email saga is an example of that and while technically Clinton did not do anything illegal, were a scandal to force her out of the race the Democrats may struggle to field another candidate that the electorate could believe in. At the moment she so dominates the race and the polls that a Clinton collapse could spell disaster for the Democrats.
At the time of writing Hilary Clinton is the only Democrat that has officially declared that she is running for the Democrat nomination. So let us jump over to the Republican Party – where the fun begins.
Ted Cruz (Republican)
Of the official candidates running for the Republican nomination so far Cruz is the most outspoken Conservative and a self-styled leader of the anti-establishment movement that has been developing in the Republican party since George W. Bush was President. Cruz has a history of shocking the establishment with upsets: his win in the Texas Senatorial election in 2012 where he beat Republican David Dewhurst before triumphing against Democrat Paul Sadler was hailed by the Washington Post as the biggest upset of 2012. By clearly identifying with the Tea Party movement Cruz hopes to cause a shock to the Republican establishment and secure another upset – if he comes close then not since Ronald Reagan in 1976 would a candidate seen by so many in the party as too Conservative be a legitimate candidate for the Republicans. At 44 years of age Cruz has plenty of time on his side and with bigger, more moderate candidates still to announce their candidacy, he may have to bide his time and improve his relationship with the party leadership.
Marco Rubio (Republican)
Another young gun with strong Tea Party support, Rubio is slightly different from Cruz in that he holds a greater level of respect and support from the Republican establishment. As a fluent Spanish speaking 43 year old Rubio can be seen as the future of a party that has been accused of being made up of just old, white men out of touch with a developing and diverse United States. A talented orator Rubio appears to be, for some, the perfect mix of conservative rhetoric and establishment credibility – a young and inspiring new voice of a generation – and therein lies the danger. The possibly stark comparison between one Barack Obama and Marco Rubio will be furiously downplayed by the election team of Rubio’s. Anything positive to do with Obama is electoral poison to the usually grass-root Conservatives who regularly vote in Primaries. Finally being a jack of all trades may lead to being a master of none and Rubio is not the only Spanish speaking candidate likely to run in the Primaries. A certain Jeb Bush is also a Spanish speaker.
Rand Paul (Republican)
Although Rand Paul is standing as a prospective Republican candidate he is more a Libertarian at heart in the vain of his father Ron Paul. He certainly has appeal across the party: Tea Party activists agree with his small-government stance while he will hope to carry the majority that voted for his father in 2012. His call for the individual freedoms and rights of the people to be respected has garnered support from both the young and blacks, groups that have historically not voted for the Republicans. However like Marco Rubio, Paul may find that he is coveting too many different groups that others can easily eat into such as the Tea Party vote that will be contested by both Ted Cruz and Rubio. Finally Paul has been unafraid to criticise Obama and the Republican Party and that, coupled with his strong Libertarian views, will make him an isolated figure in the Republican race if he cannot gain early momentum in the Primaries.
Domestic US and North America
All images used are in the public domain and from the US Senate
Cover photo is by Lars Plougmann from London, United Kingdom