The worst possible scenario for the Republican Party in 2012 is for Mitt Romney to lose all the swing states to President Obama, subsequently lose the House of Representatives, and drop valuable seats in the Senate. The 2012 election is far from over, (the Real Clear Politics composite polling chart maintains that Obama only has a 4 point lead over Romney) however, it is never too early to speculate about the future of the American politics.
In 2008, after Obama’s dominating victory over John McCain, many pundits predicted the death of the Republican Party. Along with losing control of all three branches of government, the GOP even witnessed Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania become a Democrat. Despite these projections of continued Democratic dominance, the GOP was resurgent in the 2010 midterms picking up 63 seats in the House (the largest gain in seats in any midterm election since 1938), six Senate seats, and 10 governorships. This was in large part due to the strength grass roots Tea Party movement, and the disappointing state of the economy. If the GOP suffers a considerable losses in 2012, there are plenty of leaders willing to the take the reigns and present a formidable challenge to the Democrats in 2016.
The Top 3 Favorites:
1. Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ)
Christie’s track record in the New Jersey has made him a favorite among Republican circles. He has tackled political unpopular issues such as reforming the tenure system for teachers in New Jersey, while also balancing the budget in the state for three consecutive years. His brash and direct talking style cuts through the political jargon that turns away the average voter and meets the present day demand for quick and succinct sound bites. More importantly, Christie is not afraid to challenge the right on certain policy aims, such as gun control, nor is intimidated by criticism by the party extremes. By charismatically describing his governorship and passionately advocating for Romney during his 2012 RNC keynote address, Christie showed he is already a formidable player on the national stage and will pose a substantial threat to any Democratic challenger should he pursue the Oval Office in 2016.
2. Governor Jon Huntsman (R-UT)
Huntsman’s presidential bid in 2012 ended after New Hampshire, however he gained critical exposure and will be a familiar face to voters in 2016. As a businessman, former governor of Utah, and former ambassador to China, Huntsman has a history of experience that very few presidential candidates, Republican or Democrat, could ever match. As governor, his record as a tax reformer will resonate with voters on all sides of the spectrum. Serving as ambassador to China during the Obama Administration, Huntsman brings foreign policy credentials that make him the most prepared to deal with the second largest economy in the world. His private sector experience puts him beyond the typical lifetime politician Washington insider. Lastly, he also does not toe the party line on issues such as the environment and immigration that tend to turn away moderate voters from the GOP. Huntsman may have not won in 2012, but neither did Romney in 2008, or McCain in 2000. Likewise, he is a viable challenger in 2016
3. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)
Rubio is a young face that has quickly become a dominant force in the Republican Party. As a Cuban-American, Rubio defies the conventional Republican demographic. He is an incredibly attractive candidate because he is a Senator of the all important swing state of Florida. Serving on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the Committee on Foreign Relations, Rubio also has foreign policy experience to bolster his candidacy. Although he was only elected to the senate in 2010, by 2016 he will have a longer tenure in the Senate than Obama had in 2008. Similarly, governmental inexperience will not be a substantial factor in deriding his future promise. He is an exciting speaker, and has a familial story of immigrant success that can inspire Americans to vote for him in 2016.
Will the Republican Party be in shambles if they suffer a significant loss in 2012? Absolutely not. These are only three of the potential 2016 candidates. Honorable mentions include Governor Nikki Haley (R-SC), Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Governor Susana Martinez (R-NM), Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), Governor Brian Sandoval (R-NV), and even current VP nominee Paul Ryan may pose a significant for the White House in 2016.
Romney’s success in the 2012 election will not adversely dampen the future for Republicans. If his candidacy fails, there are many members ready to take his place at the helm of the Grand Old Party.