The race for 2016 starts the day after election day. Both parties are going to be searching for their new leaders. A huge question for Democrats is, “What does Hillary Clinton do?” Based on that decision, the race could go many ways.
Besides Clinton, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is a popular but unknown figure in the party, is considering.
Joe Biden, who seems to be intimating he will run, is on the shortlist, but the question becomes whether that is too status quo.
Antonio Villaraigosa, the mayor of Los Angeles, is on the list, and has tremendous support in the Latino community.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York would be a formidable figure if Clinton doesn’t run. She is popular in a big state and a woman candidate is important, because 60 percent of Democratic primary voters are female.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been rumored to want to run and comes from a key state with access to party faithful and money.
There’s also the chance of an unknown candidate who may emerge in the aftermath of this year’s election.
For the GOP, the journey ahead is more perilous. They will be going through civil war after this Romney loss: the very conservatives vs. the establishment; the cultural conservatives vs. the economic conservatives; the populists vs. old school. And there is no clear leader ahead. Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, would be formidable with his name and money.
Paul Ryan is a favorite among deficit conservatives and did well on the Romney campaign.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is a rising star of party and they need Latino inroads.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie did well in Hurricane Sandy and is a tough talker.
Rick Santorum would consider a run, and has backing of social conservatives.
Mike Huckabee needs to make a decision and is a popular figure in the party.
Sarah Palin would be popular with some, though she has a tough road ahead.
Rick Perry may consider another run, though questions surround that.
And again, watch for an unknown candidate to emerge from this election.