In previous presidential elections, I've had a pretty good idea of whom I was going to support 18 months before people vote.
For example, I was behind Romney at this moment in 2011, McCain in 2007, and Bush back in 1999.
I love our field but would prefer to wait a bit, because there is so much in the air about 2016.
Frankly, I'm not even convinced that Hillary Clinton will be the Democrat nominee.
Furthermore, it's not crazy to say that the final two may not even be candidates yet.
My good friend Barry Casselman, The Prairie Editor, wrote recently about the three elements of 2016. It really made me think:
While there likely will be some inevitable “Obama fatigue” among many voters, particularly among independent voters, in November, 2016, Democratic strategists have options open to them which might overwhelm this 8-year “fatigue” pattern. The 1988 cycle demonstrated how, with a weak nominee/ticket, Republicans were able to retain the White House after two terms of President Reagan. The question is: Is Hillary Clinton a strong or weak nominee? The polls so far indicate that Democratic voters remain determined to nominate Mrs. Clinton, who would be the first woman nominated by a major party for president. Many Democrats, furthermore, consider calls for the liberal party to choose another nominee to be a conservative “plot” to deprive them of their strongest nominee. Many savvy GOP strategists I know, however, prefer Mrs. Clinton over a “wild card” Democratic nominee who might snatch a surprising victory from defeat[.] ... This is not unlike the preference of Democratic strategists for Bob Dole in 1996 and John McCain in 2008 to be their opponents. Well-known nationally, firmly established in their party, Mr. Dole and Mr. McCain were nevertheless ultimately weak nominees. Aside from the gender card she always plays. Mrs. Clinton is a controversial figure and an unimpressive campaigner. The current discussion of her conduct as secretary of state, and of the allegations about the Clinton Foundation which she co-heads with her husband, the former president, are proving to be a protracted and enduring drag on her public image. In some ways, her opponents are accomplishing what Mitt Romney’s opponents accomplished in 2011-12 before his nomination, i.e., so severely wounding his political image early that he could not recover momentum in his race against Mr. Obama.I would add another factor: what I call the passion factor.
On the other hand, the Republican presidential nomination contest has become, at its outset, an opaque battle of several personalities, ranging from center right to radical right. This reflects much of the public discussion of current conservative politics, but not necessarily the mood of most conservative voters. Lacking a frontrunner as the Democrats have, the GOP field of candidates is initially very large, as it was in 2012. In the latter cycle, the debate season produced polls with rotating, frontrunning contestants until Mr Romney finally prevailed. It was thought briefly that Jeb Bush would emerge quickly as the dominant candidate in 2016, but the early picture has at least three major candidates, Bush, Scott Walker and Marco Rubio, with Chris Christie and John Kasich, among others, waiting in the wings. The debates will likely be instructive, but this cycle, the early primaries/caucuses might not play the roles they have in the past. Already, the traditional opening shot of the GOP contest, the Iowa Straw Poll, is floundering as many of the major candidates are skipping the event.
In 2008, and to a lesser extent in 2012, Obama benefited from the passion factor. It was "cool" to vote for Obama, even if a lot of his supporters couldn't tell you much about his record or positions.
Will there be such passion in 2016? I don't see it for the Democrats. Mrs. Clinton is not exciting anybody. Mr. O'Malley and Mr. Sanders have their supporters, but I don't see much excitement.
On the GOP side, there is a passion, but let's hope that we don't beat up each other trying to score debating points.
Again, so much is up in the air. I want to wait a bit before I hitch my wagon to a candidate.
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