Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker: Mega-billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch seem to have settled on Mr Walker as their preferred candidate, and most of the other super-rich guys who finance the Republican Party seem satisfied with their choice. Some eccentric billionaires might choose to boost other candidates, and there are candidates who might be able to keep their names on ballots throughout the process without big money backing, but the way the US process works, the Kochs (pronounced “Cokes,” as in what may as well be Mr Walker’s personal anthem, “I’d like to sell the Kochs the world, to do with as they please/ I’d like to sell the Kochs the world, and make the workers scream…”)
Former Florida Governor John Ellis “Jeb” Bush: Entered the race as the presumed front-runner, has struggled to stay in the top tier. Perhaps he ran for president of the wrong country.
New York real estate heir-turned-reality TV star Donald Trump: Has attracted a large following among Republicans while espousing ideas that do not fit with the anti-tax, ultra-free trade orthodoxy of the party’s Washington-based policy elite. I grant that his ideas are not good ones, but the interesting thing he has demonstrated is that there is a market among Republicans for ideas that Grover Norquist wouldn’t like. Perhaps the next cycle will feature a Republican candidate or two who has ideas that are both unorthodox and good.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: 99% chance of being the Democratic presidential nominee. If something unforeseen happens to her while the filing deadlines for the primaries are still open, or after she has accumulated a majority of delegates, then Vice President Joseph Biden will likely enter the race and the party’s moneymen will transfer their loyalty to him. So Mr Biden has a 0.9% of being nominated. If both Ms Clinton and Mr Biden become unavailable for some reason, then the establishment will find some other stooge to put in that place; former Vice President Albert Gore has been mentioned in that connection, but it could be any of a number of people. So I’d give “Some Other Stooge” a 0.09% chance.
Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley: If, due to some freak occurrence, Hillary Clinton becomes unavailable after the filing deadlines have closed and before a majority of delegates have been selected, then an already announced candidate would likely win the nomination. Mr O’Malley’s campaign seemed at first to be premised on this remote possibility, that he might be the person to step in should such a thing happen. He carries some pretty heavy baggage, though, and it’s hard to imagine that the party would rally around so obviously flawed a candidate in the turmoil that would follow Ms Clinton’s sudden implosion at so inopportune a moment. Therefore, I wouldn’t assign a very large fraction of the 0.01% chance that the party will nominate someone other than Ms Clinton, Mr Biden, or Some Other Stooge to him. Perhaps 0.001% might be a fair estimate of his likelihood of being nominated.
Vermont Senator Bernard Sanders: A vote for Mr Sanders is a vote for the Democratic Party to move to the left on economic issues, and so I plan to cast my ballot for him. Were he a viable candidate for the nomination, however, it would be necessary to oppose him vigorously. I’d say that the biggest problem with US policy in Southwest Asia and Northeast Africa is that we are too supportive of Saudi Arabia’s various projects, as the biggest problem with our policy in Europe and Northwest Asia is that we are too supportive of Germany’s ambitions. In each case, the tail has wagged the dog so strongly that the US has waged multiple wars that do not promote any identifiable national interest of this country. Mr Sanders not only does not see it this way, but actually calls for the USA to show even greater deference than it already does to Saudi Arabia. Be that as it may, Democratic voters are if anything less likely to turn to Mr Sanders as a safe harbor in the event of a Clinton collapse than they are to turn to Mr O’Malley. The “socialist” label he has from time to time embraced will likely scare many of them off, his ludicrously feeble response when two or three people from Outside Agitators 206 confronted him a couple of weeks ago left him looking like Abraham Beame, and any aggressiveness he might muster in an attempt to breathe life back into his flagging campaign would also alienate the Clintonite voters who would become available in that event. So 0.001% is a generous estimate of his chance of winning the nomination.
Former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee: As a bland moderate who is attracting no support the polls can measure, Mr Chafee will probably not have made a negative impression on anyone by the time the voting starts. Therefore, if he can file delegates, he will be in the best position to become the substitute candidate should something happen to knock Hillary Clinton out of the race between the end of December and the beginning of April. Perhaps his chance of winning the nomination should be rated as high as 0.005%
Former Virginia Senator Jim Webb: I’ve left 0.003% unaccounted for. I wouldn’t give more than about a 0.0001% chance to Mr Webb. I like him a lot, but he isn’t the sort of fellow today’s Democratic Party would find at all appealing. The other 0.0029% is a reserve in case something entirely unforeseen happens, like a deadlocked convention or a genuine insurgency on behalf of a non-establishment candidate or an asteroid striking the earth and canceling the election, something that is theoretically possible and should be given some kind of numerical value, though it can be disregarded for all practical purposes.