Who Will Be Running for the Democrats in 2016?

01/11/2012 11:12 GMT | Updated 31/12/2012 10:12 GMT

Whichever party wins the 2012 presidential election, it is likely that both the Democrats and the Republicans will be looking for new candidates in 2016. What state the country and the economy will be in are uncertain. The midterm elections of 2014 as well as the different senatorial and gubernatorial elections will go a long way to shaping the narrative that will lead one candidate or another to the White House in four years time. It is also possible that a candidate might emerge from nowhere as President Obama did, starting with his impressive speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. In the first part of a two part series, here are some of the Democratic Party contenders that are mulling over whether to run in four years from now.

If President Obama loses this year, it is highly unlikely that he will run again in 2016. Only one president in US history has served non-consecutive terms and Obama would leave office with the perception that he was the man who failed to get the American economy going again. So it will be left to others to put themselves forward as possible candidates.

Hilary Clinton

Many in the Democratic Party would be thrilled to see Mrs. Clinton run in four years time. Whether she will do remains to be seen. She has publicly ruled out seeking the office of president and plans to step down from the office from her position as secretary of state, even if Obama is re-elected. It is possible that she may use these four years to recharge herself and consider the possibility of running in 2016. Her time as first lady, senator for New York as well as her current role have ensured a well established national profile. Her handling of the response to the Arab Spring showed her to be decisive when dealing with matters of foreign policy. 

Why she will run

Clinton's political ambition has never been in doubt and is one of the reasons why her time as first lady polarised the country. She came very close to winning the nomination in 2008, only to be swept aside by the surge of momentum built up by Barack Obama. She polls well amongst independent voters and any potential skeletons such as the Whitewater scandal and the Monica Lewinsky affair will be in the distant past.

Why she won't run

She took up her role as first lady in 1993. So by the time 2016 comes around, Hilary Clinton will have been involved in the top level of politics for 23 years. Her current position as secretary of state is probably the most draining job in American politics, with constant flying around the world and having to juggle endless diplomatic engagements. Whether she intends to run will depend on whether she has the reserves to continue on in public office until potentially the end of 2024 when she will be 77 years old.

Joe Biden

If Hilary Clinton decides not to run, Joe Biden may be the next favourite to get the nomination in 2016. Unlike Clinton, he has not ruled out running in four years time. He is liked by Americans for his patrician demeanour and easy-going charm. He has managed to cut down on the gaffes that marked his time earlier in office. He also has experience of running for president twice before, in 1988 and 2008, so knows how to put a campaign together.

Why he will run

Before becoming vice president, Biden was a senator for 36 years and will see 2016 as his last viable chance of going for the big job. His experience on the Judiciary Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee mean that he is a well-rounded candidate. This allied with his general popularity and ability to raise money for campaigns means that he is a strong proposition for four years time.

Why he won't run

The factors affecting Biden's viability as a candidate depend on Obama getting re-elected and the economy picking up. If Obama loses this year, Biden will be left with the stigma of being part of an administration that failed to revive the economy. The same will be true if Obama wins and the economic recovery fails to occur.

Andrew Cuomo

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is one of the younger breed of Democrats gearing up for a run in 2016. He has made himself a decent prospect after a successful two years, enjoying approval ratings of 68%. He is steeped in political life with his father, Mario Cuomo, having also been governor of the state. He was married to Kerry Kennedy, daughter of Robert F. Kennedy, for 13 years although they divorced in 2005. Cuomo's brief tenure has seen him reform the state's tax code and legalise same-sex marriage.

Why he will run

Cuomo is well established within the Democratic Party and if it chooses to go with a younger candidate, Cuomo has the connections. He worked in the Clinton administration in the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Although favouring liberal policies such as reforming the tax code to increase revenues from the well-off as well as legalising same-sex marriage, he has been prepared to get tough with the public sector unions in order to balance the state budget.

Why he won't run

Although his legalising of same-sex marriage brought him into the national spotlight, he may take the lesson from his father about peaking too early. Mario Cuomo was undermined by constant speculation about a possible run and his son may decide that any bid for the presidency will be done on his terms. Possibly one for 2020.

Martin O'Malley

O'Malley is the governor of the state of Maryland, having also served as the mayor of Baltimore. He was successful in bringing down crime in the city as well as producing Baltimore's first budget surplus in many years. His work did not go unnoticed by the media, being named as 'Best Young Mayor in the Country' by Esquire and 'Top 5 Big City Mayors' by TIME Magazine.

Why he will run

He has done the hard work of setting himself up within the Democratic Party, securing a prime time slot at this year's Democratic National Convention. He has shown himself to be a sharp operator and an inspiring orator who has only gotten better at each convention. His record at state level is impressive and he has support within the party, being the chair of the Democratic Governors Association.

Why he won't run

Given the amount of groundwork he has put in, it seems unlikely that he won't out himself forward. The only obstacle in his way is the Maryland gubernatorial campaign in 2014. Lose this and he will lose the momentum built up.

Cory Booker

The mayor of Newark, New Jersey, Cory Booker has been in public service for 14 years, starting on Newark Council. He is very much involved in Newark's daily life, having stayed in the same apartment block as his constituents, staging hunger strikes to show the dangers of open air drug dealing and saving a woman from a house fire. He campaigned for Barack Obama in 2008 and got Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to donate $100 million to New Jersey's school system.

Why he will run

His chances rest on the 2013 New Jersey gubernatorial election. He will be up against incumbent Chris Christie, himself a possible 2016 candidate for the Republicans. Win this and he has momentum going into 2016. Lose and he will lack the national profile to go on and challenge for the nomination.

Why he won't run

Booker may feel that 2016 is too soon to be making a challenge and that there is still work to be done in Newark. He has an attachment to the city, which is why he turned down the chance to lead the White House Office of Urban Affairs Policy in 2009.

Other contenders: Antonio Villaraigosa, Deval Patrick, Elizabeth Warren