|U.Va. Center for Politics Director Larry J. Sabato is contributing a column every other week to Politico Magazine. This week, he delves into why Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) could be the kind of candidate Republicans need to win the White House in 2016. — The Editors
We are already at the point in this prematurely unfolding 2016 presidential campaign when a glance down the list of prospective candidates can cause most observers to wince. As that seductive and sultry crooner Peggy Lee once sang, “Is that all there is?”
At the U.Va. Crystal Ball, we currently have 11 Republicans and nine Democrats as probable or possible presidential contenders. The Democrats have fewer and more tentative contenders because of the paralyzing gravitational pull of “Planet Hillary,” as the New York Times Magazine described the Clinton operation. The former secretary of state is a kind of massive Jupiter in a solar system that may not have many more worlds if she runs.
The Republicans have a sharply different problem. They have plenty of wannabes but no obvious general election winner. It’s not that we can’t construct scenarios by which this or that GOP nominee will capture the White House three years hence. Rather, it is that no one on the present list seems able to convincingly combat the growing demographic edge that produces a Democratic lead in the Electoral College.
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