A Look Ahead to 2016

Alex Simard '18, Writer

Hopefuls are lining up a year in advance for what is expected to be on of the closest and most contentious presidential election in years. But many Americans are not aware of who the candidates are, or what this election will entail for the American people. And many students here at Marin Catholic will be able to vote.

Let’s start with some basics. In the United States, elections generally revolve around two parties — Democrats, who are more liberal; and Republicans, who tend to be more conservative. There are many other parties; however, these usually receive a very small percentage of the vote. First, there are primaries, which are races in which each political party tries to find their best candidate. Once these candidates are chosen, they go head-to-head in the general elections. The situation for each party and their respective primary is very different. Republicans have a large field of candidates, and it seems as if every week there is a new frontrunner. Democrats, on the other hand, have a clear leader amongst their party.

First, we’ll look at the Republican candidates. On March 23rd, Ted Cruz, a member of the far-right Tea Party, announced that he would be entering the race — the first to announce his campaign. Though Cruz’s poll numbers that very morning showed that he would only receive 3% of the Republican vote in primaries (Quinnipiac), many are still championing his cause. While Cruz is popular amongst the party’s far-right wing, recent polls favor candidates who are more in line with the establishment, or members of a party who tend to be more moderate.

Jeb Bush, brother of President George W. Bush and former Florida governor, is at the head of the polls at 13%. Bush, part of a more moderate wing of his party, has showed support for both Immigration Reform and Common Core Standards, two issues that have made him unpopular amongst more conservative voters. Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, is also strongly considering a presidential bid. Another more establishment candidate, Walker has managed to win 3 gubernatorial elections in a traditionally Democratic state. Amongst other announced candidates are Rand Paul, a staunch Libertarian candidate, and Marco Rubio, an establishment candidate who hopes that his Hispanic heritage will appeal to minorities, a portion of the population Republicans have struggled reaching.

The Democrats have a more narrow pool of potential candidates. In the lead is former Senator, First Lady, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Clinton’s poll numbers in both the primaries, where she leads by 40 points; and in the general elections, where Clinton leads by about 8-15 points, are promising for Democrats and for Americans who favor a center-left candidate. Clinton’s ability to move toward the center on many issues will be key to winning the general election. Elizabeth Warren, a die-hard liberal, is also a contender. Though she is popular amongst very liberal Americans, she does not have much support from the Democratic establishment, where she polls 40 points behind Clinton. Vice President Joe Biden has also expressed interest in running, as well as the incumbent Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo.

Democrats face another challenge — or strong point (however you look at it) — in President Obama’s record. Democrats are bound to face tough questions about the Affordable Care Act, Foreign Policy specifically in the Middle East, and the recovery from the 2008 Recession. The Democratic candidate will have to not only defend the President’s work, but also present new ideas to benefit the American people, all while being subject some Republican scrutiny.

One of the main political issues that will surround 2016 is the growing problem of Income Inequality. How the candidates will deal with lack of upper mobility, a growing amount of wealth in the hands of the few, and stagnating wages will play an important role in who the next President will be. The candidates will also the discuss racial tensions that have plagued minority communities and police officers alike. Issues like Immigration Reform, our relationship with Israel and Palestine, and even the legalization of marijuana are bound to emerge. It’s every American’s duty to be informed, and even though you may think it’s too early, candidates are already emerging and announcing their campaigns. Be informed, because many at Marin Catholic right now will be eligible to vote: if you were born before October 24th, 1998, you will be eligible to vote in 2016. So start getting informed; get to know the candidates and the issues; discuss and debate with classmates and teachers; and most of all, when the time comes, watch the debates and vote!

All polling figures represented may not be up to date due to article release logistics; a recent check showed the numbers to be near the current polling figures.