The Race for the White House – a follow-up

Programming note: The Crystal Ball is taking a pre-Labor Day break next week. Our next edition will be Thursday, Sept. 5. We hope everyone has a great holiday. — The Editors

Thanks to the many readers who sent us e-mails or tweets about our ranking of the 2016 presidential contenders last week. We thought we would follow up by responding to some common questions here:

Rick Santorum? Puh-leeze – We moved Santorum up in our ratings primarily just because we wanted to move Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) below him. The former Pennsylvania senator deserves some respect for being the runner-up last time, but in all reality his potential bid would be an even-bigger longshot than last time. We doubt he gets higher than sixth on this list. Our readers were right to question his apparent upward movement.

Where’s Jeb Bush? — As we’ve noted previously, we just don’t see the former Florida governor as an actual candidate. We hosted his son, George P. Bush, here last year, and we interpreted his comments as a strong indication that his father wasn’t running (see the second-to-last paragraph of our April ratings for more). If that changed, we would put him on our list and probably rank him high, although his last name is more of a hindrance than a help. Even the irrepressible Barbara Bush said there have been enough Bushes at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Maybe Jeb Bush is the one who belongs in our “wild card” slot.

Why aren’t there any women on the GOP list? — Readers suggested a number of Republican women, such as Gov. Susana Martinez (R-NM) and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), as potential contenders. Could either of them run? Sure, but there hasn’t been much indication that they will, yet. Our lists are not meant to be exhaustive; rather, they’re an indication of the people we see as major players right now. We could certainly imagine adding either Martinez or Ayotte to our list. One person we doubt we’ll add, though, is Sarah Palin. We don’t see her as a candidate for any office anytime soon, and her poll numbers — even in Alaska — are poor.

What about Amy Klobuchar? — The Minnesota senator is another Democrat who is sometimes mentioned as a presidential possibility. She just visited Iowa — which always generates presidential speculation. Again, the lists are not meant to be fully comprehensive. Klobuchar is another person who might be in the mix if Hillary Clinton decides not to run for president. She’s a well-regarded senator, and we continue to believe that there is a hunger among Democrats to break the presidential glass ceiling, especially because the party’s primary electorate is likely to be roughly 57%-58% female in 2016. Again, the Democratic field is so contingent on Clinton’s candidacy that it’s hard to realistically slot in people who would probably only run if she didn’t.

Is Ted Cruz eligible? — Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who is currently fifth in our rankings, was born in Canada, but his mother was an American citizen at the time, so it appears he is eligible to run for president. Cruz actually holds dual citizenship in the United States and Canada, but after the Dallas Morning News published Cruz’s birth certificate earlier this week, Cruz said he was going to renounce his Canadian citizenship. There’s a South Park joke in here somewhere, involving young Ike the Canadian or the song, “Blame Canada.” Could this be the end of the birther nonsense for everyone? Hope springs eternal.

Where’s Donald Trump? — Please, spare us. This predictable game has gotten old, maybe ancient.

You goofed on Rick Perry! Unfortunately, yes we did. Some versions of the Crystal Ball last week included an error about Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) in our ratings chart. Perry cannot lose the 2014 gubernatorial primary because he is retiring. We forgot to update our chart after Perry announced he would not seek a fourth full term as governor earlier this summer. We’d like to thank the many readers for their eagle eyes in spotting this error. That includes incoming U.Va. Center for Politics intern Jarrod Nagurka, whose 2 a.m. tweet allowed us to correct the chart on some versions of the Crystal Ball, and — gulp — U.Va. President Teresa Sullivan, who spent much of her career at the University of Texas. (Sorry boss! On the other hand, it’s an honor that you read us bright and early every Thursday.) At this point, there’s only one thing we can say — oops. You all keep us on our toes.

Don’t underestimate Joe Biden — Biden has more loyalists than you’d think, and quite a few true believers about a third presidential bid. Sure, Biden was an asterisk in the 1988 and 2008 cycles, when he ran for the White House the first two times. But he’s gotten a big job promotion since, with a jumbo jet and dozens of staffers, and the same indefatigable spirit. President Obama isn’t going to diss Biden by endorsing Hillary if they both run, so Obama’s troops may be more divided in ‘16 than they look now. The Geritol generation may be well represented at the next Iowa caucus, with Biden at 73 and Hillary at 68. The young Crystal Ball staffers laugh at the “fossils,” but they give the senior guy at the Ball some hope that it isn’t all downhill after 65.

We’ll give our rankings a full update in the fall. The full rankings are here, and last week’s article is here.