Romney and Graham: Two Republicans You Can Cross Off the List for 2016

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Ann Romney, wife of 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney, was the most certain sign her husband would not be running for president. When he spoke in interviews, there was a small gap left open in his phrasings; the merest possibility that he might wedge that door back open to 2016. Mrs. Romney, on the other hand, spoke with far more certainty — the kind of certainty that makes doubt difficult. “We’ve moved on,” she said in an interview with ABC.

“We’re not doing that again. It’s a no.” But debate surrounding a potential return of Romney to the election trail next year didn’t cease as a result — for one, because of the pressuring being put on Romney to run, for another, because he wasn’t entirely blunt on the matter. Finally, discussion of his chance of running continued simply because some on the right were clinging to the hope that he might take another run at a campaign, either because they like him as a candidate, or because he’s done very well in some of the polls, suggesting he’d be competitive against Hillary Clinton’s popularity and name recognition. Whatever the reasons, they’re all gone now, because Romney has announced for absolute certain that he will not be returning to the electoral ring to duke it out with fellow Republicans come next year.

In a phone call to his private supporters via CNN, Romney said that their interest “does warm the heart,” but that while “I’m convinced that with the help of the people on this call, we could win the nomination,” he doesn’t “want to make it more difficult for someone else to emerge who may have a better chance of” beating the Democratic candidate. “I believe that one of our next generation of Republican leaders, one who may not be as well known as I am today, one who has not yet taken their message across the country, one who is just getting started, may well emerge as being better able to defeat the Democrat nominee,” said Romney. He closed by saying that while it would be hard for both he and his wife to pass on the opportunity, he would not be putting together a PAC, accepting donations, or looking for a campaign team, and that his supporters should fin another candidate who they could passionately support on the Republican side.

Romney isn’t the only Republican that analysts can probably cross off their list of 2016 potentials, at least according to FiveThirtyEight. Despite the fact he’s begun an exploratory group to consider his chances in 2016, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is a non-contender.

Graham said in announcing his exploratory group: “What I’m looking at is, is there a pathway forward on the ground in Iowa and New Hampshire for a guy like me? I don’t know until I look,” he said, according to Reuters. FiveThirtyEight suggests the answer is a quick, simple, “no.” The group, called “Security Through Strength,” focuses on fear, as does much of Graham’s rhetoric, bringing up concerns about terrorism and extremism. “Ronald Reagan’s policy of ‘Peace Through Strength’ kept America safe during the Cold War. But we will never enjoy peaceful coexistence with radical Islam because its followers are committed to destroying us and our way of life,” said Graham. “However, America can have ‘Security through Strength,” and I will continue to lead in that critical fight.”

As evidence that Graham is a bad bet, FiveThirtyEight cites Betfair’s candidate listing. Betfair is the equivalent of an online bookie, combined with a bet against friends or people at the bar, because of the way bets are put together. What’s important though, is that bets offered for the 2016 presidential election really run the odds, from likelier — Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, etc. — to very unlikely — Mitt Romney, Donald Trump, and Sarah Palin. One of the only names not on the list? Sen. Graham.

Graham’s not included in many of the more recent polls, from Fox News, to CNN/ORC, to Quinnipiac. And while some candidates lack the necessary experience for the presidency — for example Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewett-Packard, who ran for, but failed to win a seat in, the California senate — others are hurt by their time in office. Pew Research released data in May 2014 that suggested more time in Washington could be a negative for possible presidential candidates.

He also lacks the background, personality, and history to draw the support of enough of his fellow party members, especially given some of his more center-right ideas that could anger conservatives. At the same time, many right leaning liberals are alienated by him as well. Nothing is ever certain of course, but there are always going to be candidates that are clearly not able to measure up from the getgo (Jim Webb, anyone?).

Follow Anthea Mitchell on Twitter @AntheaWSCS

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