After President Obama's victory over Mitt Romney, thinking about the 2016 election may seem like we're jumping the gun. However it is never too early to consider the presidential candidates of the future. With an ABC News-Washington Post poll indicating 57% of Americans would back her candidacy, Democrats would love to see Hillary Clinton run for president again in 2016. It is highly unlikely that she will face an intense primary fight like 2008, which would give her a substantial amount of money to contest her opponent in the general election. With Clinton’s perceived advantage at the onset of the 2016 race, the Republican candidate that has the best chance of beating her is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Christie is currently the most popular Republican presidential hopeful with 55% approval rating nationwide according to a poll by Farleigh-Dickenson University. Although in recent months he has come under fire by some of the GOP die-hards for praising President Obama’s reaction to Hurricane Sandy and slamming House Speaker John Boehner for delaying federal relief aid for the storm damage, Christie’s straight-talking style is in sharp contrast to Clinton’s more drawn out diplomatic rhetoric.
Christie presents Americans with a rebuttal to the status quo of congressional gridlock; he is outspoken when it comes to partisan maneuvering on both sides of the aisle. With Congress’ approval rating at 18% during the fiscal cliff debate, a candidate like Christie that is willing to bluntly cut through Republican and Democratic platitudes is appealing to the American public. Christie’s record of reducing spending in New Jersey will significantly bolster his candidacy as recent congressional debates have failed to produce any legitimate reductions in government.
Although she is well qualified and experienced enough to hold the Oval Office, Clinton represents a continuation of the current political discourse. Despite high favorability ratings during her tenure as secretary of state, if past polling holds true Nate Silver projects that Clinton’s favorability will decrease substantially if she is a presidential candidate. During her tenure as first lady, Hillary Clinton’s favorability decreased when she was more engaged in policymaking, such as when she advocated for health care reform in front of Congress. Simultaneously, when she ran for the Senate seat in New York and ran for president in 2008, Clinton’s favorability and unfavorability ratings were virtually identical.
In addition, a Hillary Clinton presidency would represent a continuation of the Clinton-Bush dynasty that would span 32 years of involvement in the Oval Office including her service as Secretary of State (1988 to 2012, 2016 to 2024), if she was re-elected in 2020. Hillary Clinton’s age is also working against her, as she will be 69 years old in 2016 compared to Christie’s 54.
Poll numbers throughout her involvement in national policymaking show that Hillary Clinton’s superstardom in American politics does not guarantee her a victory in 2016. Simultaneously, Christie’s rapid ascent and increasing approval among both Republicans and Democrats prove that he has an appeal beyond the GOP. With 2016 only a few short years away, Chris Christie’s trademark style and fresh approach to politics will propel him to victory over the familiar Hillary Clinton. The country is eager for a different approach to the unchanging state of Washington politics.