Commentary: Time to start 2016 election speculation

The Kansas City StarNovember 16, 2012 

You and I are such different people. You are just glad the 2012 election is over. I am thrilled that 2016 already has begun.

Ready for this? Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a Republican, speaks in Iowa a week from tonight. And the first polls already are out: Hillary Clinton leads in Iowa 58 to 17 percent over Joe Biden.

• Lesson one from 2012: Even in a year when the ability to create jobs was an obvious attribute, businesspeople made poor candidates. Cases in point: Senate candidate John Brunner and gubernatorial contender Dave Spence in Missouri. Their ability to run successful businesses did not translate to the campaign trail, where both were dismal. Political experience matters.

Lesson two: More often than not, primaries kill. Spence had a primary. It hurt. Democratic lieutenant governor contender Susan Montee had to survive a crowded primary and lost this week. Senate candidate Todd Akin and Secretary of State candidate Shane Schoeller had to win in August. They were defeated in November.

• The most resilient candidate in Missouri? A tip of the hat to Republican Peter Kinder, who won a third term as lieutenant governor. He was forced to fight through a rip-roaring primary (he’s an exception to lesson two above) where he faced a barrage of attacks over his use of taxpayer-financed hotel stays in St. Louis.

He faced the same attacks in November and won even though leading GOP donors abandoned him. His win puts those issues behind him. Once again, he’s the leading candidate for governor in 2016, even though he took a pass on the race this year.

• The feel-good story of 2012 in these parts? Kansas City’s own Jason Kander, who willed himself to victory in the race for secretary of state. The leap from state rep to statewide official is a mighty one, and Kander relied on all-out hustle to overcome a lack of name ID. I didn’t think he could do it. A lot of people didn’t. A tremendous political feat.

• The early front-runner for Missouri governor in 2016 is now Attorney General Chris Koster, whose smooth TV presence has the potential of carrying him a long way. (He works on intonation, I’m told, and the practice pays off.) A Republican who just might emerge as a candidate is U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer of St. Elizabeth.

• The largest number of women in U.S. history will serve in the 113th Congress. An all-time high of 20 women (16D, 4R) will work in the Senate along with at least 77 women (57D, 20R) in the House, also a record.

• Barack Obama is the first president since Andrew Jackson to win a second full term while seeing his share of the popular vote decline from his first election.

• Democrats have won the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections.

• Obama’s winning coalition: 80 percent of minorities and 39 percent of whites.

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