The 2016 presidential race is shaping up to be a barn burner with deep differences among both Democratic and Republican candidates. Traditionally the campaign season begins with the first primary. But this year so many Republicans are running for their Party's nomination that it is safe to say the campaign season begins Aug. 6, 2015 -- the night of the first Republican debate. Fox News will air the debate, featuring some of its most recognizable anchors and reporters, such as Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly, and Chris Wallace.
The Republican debate on Aug. 6 will allow all of the GOP candidates to demonstrate to the nation how they handle themselves in a joint news conference, fielding questions from three journalists who are known to hold a candidate's feet to the fire on the hard issues. It is actually a big mistake to call these events a debate since none of the rules of a traditional debate apply. They never have in these televised events. Rather, these are joint news conferences during which each candidate is asked questions from reporters.
More will be written about which candidates have the best ideas, at least in the eyes of conservatives, in the weeks and months to come. But who as of now at least appears to be the best suited to carry the conservative and libertarian message to a new crop of American voters?
The answer to that question is a matter of opinion. Thus, the answer provided here will be opinion, but an opinion that is informed and armed with the facts.
At this point in time it is a bit too early to have one's mind made up. There is plenty of time to do that, and thus the only thing one can do is to cite those candidates who have garnered a generally favorable rating from likely Republican voters in the primaries. It goes without saying that the process at this point is quite fluid among GOP voters. Anything could happen and it is way too early to count anyone out.
As of today the candidates who appear to have gained general favorability are Scott Walker, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, Donald Trump, and Dr. Ben Carson. The next grouping of candidates cites those who have not been able to catch fire as of yet, for various reasons, yet they are within reach of the nomination nonetheless. They are Rick Perry, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, and John Kasich. The last group out of the 16 candidates is made up of those that many if not most conservative/libertarian voters within the GOP consider unacceptable due to their stated stance on vital issues. Most believe that these candidates could not get elected anyway, and they are Jeb Bush, Chris Christy, Lindsey Graham, and George Pataki.
Over on the other side the Democratic hopefuls are a train wreck. Hillary's negatives are through the roof, and most view her as basically a dishonest person. The slow drip of news about the various scandals in which she has been involved are not going away. But her rivals for the Democratic nomination have their own baggage. Most are way too far out of the mainstream to be considered by the general public.