Republican Presidential Candidates 2016

Updated on April 13, 2017

GOP Presidential Candidates 2016

While Mitt Romney was unsuccessful in his race against President Obama in 2012, Republicans are hopeful that they will have better luck in 2016 against Hilary Clinton. Many political journalists expect the 2016 election to be hotly contested by both parties, with many candidates throwing their hats into the ring and no incumbent candidate assuming the position of automatic front runner. This hub looks at the candidates who ran for the GOP Presidential nomination in 2016 - will they be able to take back the White House after two straight losses to the Democrats in 2008 and 2012? Or will Donald Trump go down in flames to Hilary Clinton?

The Main Contenders

Donald Trump

Why he'll win the nomination: He has a $4 billion fortune (maybe much less, sad!) he can fund himself with, he has high name recognition, and (as of the summer of 2015) he is doing better than many of the other candidates in the polls. Crazier things have happened!

Why he'll fall short: People aren't sure if he's actually serious about running, many of his current political views are in direct opposition to views he has expressed in the past, and he had a very bad habit of insulting just about everyone, including veterans, immigrants, and Hispanic voters during a short three week stretch in 2015.

Marco Rubio

Why he'll win the nomination: Currently serving as a Junior Senator from Florida, Marco Rubio was discussed by many as a potential running mate of Mitt Romney in 2012 before Paul Ryan was ultimately selected. Florida will still be an important state in 2016 and Rubio is a relatively popular senator there. Rubio could also help the GOP improve its performance among Hispanic voters, a key constituency that will only grow in electoral importance between now and the next election.

Why he'll fall short: Rubio has somewhat of a mixed record on issues like immigration that could leave him open to attacks by the conservative wing of the Republican Party.

Ted Cruz

Why he'll win the nomination: Ted Cruz is a hero of the Tea Party and has consistently exceeded expectations during Republican primaries, including his unexpected assent to the Senate from Texas in 2012. He's also a great speaker on the stump and had some success in winning the Iowa Primary early in the election cycle.

Why he'll fall short: Cruz is great at throwing "red meat" to the far right wing, delivering applause lines about eliminating the IRS and passing a balance budget amendment to the Constitution that have no chance of ever being implemented. He has almost no chance of winning the general election, and most Republican primary voters will recognize this even if they like his tough talk about President Obama.

Dead in the Water...or maybe the next VP?

Jeb Bush

Why he had a shot at the nomination: He came from a political dynasty that includes two former Presidents, including his brother George W. and dad George H.W, and was backed by an immense amount of Super PAC money from influential donors. He also was a reasonably popular governor of Florida (an important swing state), spoke fluent Spanish, and had more moderate positions on issues like immigration that may help win over moderate voters.

Why he fell short: Many Republican activists from the Tea Party remember his brother's time in office as an unmitigated disaster as budget deficits ballooned and the U.S. got engaged in multiple foreign wars. Trump also owned him, repeatedly, in numerous debates. Simply put, people weren't buying what he was selling.

Chris Christie

Why he had a shot at the nomination: The current governor of New Jersey, many speculated that Christie would run for President in 2012 despite repeated assertions that he was not interested in the job, and he ultimately decided not to enter the race. Christie had relatively high name recognition, is somewhat moderate on social issues, and has demonstrated appeal with swing voters after being elected governor of New Jersey (a reliably Democratic state historically). His cooperation with President Obama in the wake of Hurricane Sandy may give him some bi-partisan consideration in 2016.

Why he fell short: Christie's moderate stance on social issues turned off conservative voters. Like Jon Huntsman, who was relatively moderate on some social issues, it may be tough for Christie to win some of the early primaries and caucuses in states like Iowa and South Carolina, which voted for Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich over Romney in 2012. Christie also may have been hurt by a series of scandals involving political aids taking vengeance against local politicians in New Jersey by closing bridges, as well as allegations that he misused federal relief money from Hurricane Sandy.

Rand Paul

Why he had a shot at the nomination: He was the son of libertarian hero and former presidential candidate Ron Paul and represents Kentucky in the U.S. Senate. Rand will tried to tap into the "Paul Brand" (and its network of activists and donors), and distance himself from the foreign policies of many of the other candidates, who seemed to be in a competition as to who could say they were going to drop the most bombs on Syria and ISIS in order to fight terrorism and save America.

Why he fell short: Despite his father's appeal among many younger voters and libertarians, he came nowhere close to winning any of the primaries in the 2012 election cycle. Rand also has some libertarian views on the War on Drugs and foreign policy, especially the deployment of U.S. troops overseas, that could hurt him among more mainstream Republican voters, and he was ultimately unable to gain traction in a crowded GOP field.

Bobby Jindal

Why he had a shot at the nomination: Jindal had decent name recognition and might help the GOP appeal to minority candidates who have voted for President Obama in strong numbers over the last two election cycles.

Why he fell short: No one likes him, and he sounds like Kenneth the Page..

Rick Santorum

Why he had a shot at the nomination: He beat Mitt Romney in a number of key primaries in 2012, and has strong credentials among the socially conservative wing of the party.

Why he fell short: Santorum didn't come close to beating Romney, who many Republicans thought was a weak nominee in the first place. His comments on gay marriage and social issues are increasingly out of line with the views of most Americans. He also has been out of office since 2007, which will make it difficult for him to stand out in a field that included several current Senators and Governors.

Mike Huckabee

Why he had a shot at the nomination: Currently working as a host on Fox News (and radio personality), former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has a previous presidential election under his belt in 2008. Huckabee combines social conservatism (Chik-Fil-A counter protest organizer!) and occasional economic populism that could be appealing to many voters fed up with the big business ties of other Republican candidates (see Romney, Mitt).

Why he fell short: Huckabee lacks foreign policy experience and is extraordinarily conservative on social issues. he has previously made statements questioning the theory of evolution and has made strong statements against gay marriage, and issue that is becoming more accepted by the year (especially by many younger voters).

Ben Carson

Why he'll win the nomination: Carson has performed decently well in the polls and has never served in public office, which may give him some appeal among Tea Party voters who think anyone who has served in Washington is likely to be corrupted by the system. He also has expressed extremely strong social conservative views that will appeal to GOP primary voters.

Why he'll fall short: Carson has made many puzzling statements on foreign policy that have shown his inexperienced in that area, which may prove to be a key deciding factor in the election. Also, there is almost no track record of candidates with zero political experience winning the nomination, and he'll have to improve his name recognition to compete in a crowded race for the nomination.

Scott Walker

Why he had a shot at the nomination: The current governor of Wisconsin made his name after a protracted battle to with state employees to reduce their collective bargaining power in an attempt to cut spending and improve the condition of the state's budget. This successful showdown vaulted Walker to national prominence, and his stature as only increased as he won re-election in 2012 and 2014 in a state that has voted for Democratic president in the last seven presidential elections.

Why he fell short: Walker has no experience at the national level and was not as well known as some of the other leading candidates. He also has no foreign policy experience, a fact which may hurt him given recent developments in the Middle East and Russia, as foreign policy may play a much larger role in the 2016 election than it did in 2008 or 2012.

Sarah Palin

Just kidding. But seriously, would you be completely shocked if she's Donald's pick for Vice-President?

Who would you choose?

Who should the GOP nominate in 2016 after Romney's loss in 2012?

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      bbob 3 years ago

      At this moment in time you can blindfold anyone and push him/her into a crowd. The first person they touch, black, white, asian, hispanic, etc., etc., should be sworn in as president immediately to take the place of the one currently in office. As far as the 2016 election ANY Republican or Libertarian candidate will get the votes. People seem to be getting fed up with trusting the democrats.

    • Jo_Goldsmith11 profile image

      Jo_Goldsmith11 4 years ago

      The sad facts you mentioned of each candidate who could take a shot at running on the GOP side as well as the Tea Party crazier folks is the simple fact of...not one of these candidates want to serve the American people and bring the country back to being *United* and not divided on so many issues. I would suspect the American people who sign petitions to break away from being part of the United States, are the ones who may go with the Tea people overboard. The ones who are liberal will probably make the mistake and put Clinton in the Office. The liberals really don't have many viable candidates, just a repeat of another family dynasty like how the Kennedy's and Bush family has been.

      This country needs a change. And it is a matter of wanting a good one or the change which will allow the strong to eat the weak. :(

      Great hub here. Voted up all the way and shared. :-)

    • profile image

      Joe 5 years ago

      Sarah palin ha ha ha...

    • profile image

      Michele St. Pierre 5 years ago

      Rand Paul is the only one who honors his oath of office and defends the Constitution. If he is half the man his father is, he would make a fine Presidential candidate, one that the Country could rally around. Liberty unites people, what ethnicity or race. If Republicans were actually to embrace liberty, they would suddenly find themselves winning again. Articles like this who try to paint liberty candidates as some sort of "fringe" are doing a disservice to this Republic and need a history lesson about the founding of this Nation.

    • profile image

      bobbb 5 years ago

      @Concerned Citizen "The Democrat party are a vicious bunch of savages..." LOL Good comment!

    • profile image

      J tuck 5 years ago

      Rand is the only one of these guys that have earned my trust!

    • profile image

      Concerned Citizen 5 years ago

      Whoever the Republican party nominates, it better be a Tea Party Republican! Not one of these moderate, just as good as Democrat, Republicans that they have been waving in front of us. We need someone that will not back down and will boldly take a stance in this war of ideas. The Democrat party are a vicious bunch of savages and cannot be trusted, as proven by this last election and current administration. If we as a people do not stand up for our freedoms, they will take all of our freedoms away. A great example of this is what Hitler did in Germany. He didn't take away the guns or their rights overnight. He first started with government programs that he said were to help. Like socialized medical care, a program to help feed those who did not have food, unemployment help, ect. And then he took away their guns, all for the good of the people. I bet the millions of dead Jews would argue with him on that point. And now look at what's happening here.

    • Tim Kellogg profile image

      Tim Kellogg 5 years ago from Augusta, Kansas

      I can't believe Christie is still in ANY republican's mind after Sandy and Sandy Hook...can ANY of you really not see YET that Christie is more DEMOCRAT than RINO?! Love the "just kidding" about Palin lol

    • profile image

      Luke 5 years ago

      Rand Paul is the only leader up there. Leaders don't disobey their oaths. Rand will have my vote for sure.

    • profile image

      Leah 5 years ago

      Rand Paul is the only conservative on there.

    • profile image

      S.D. 5 years ago

      I will hope liberty candidate like Rand Paul runs who would win against democrat because use the fact that he fought protect liberty amend the NDAA that say can arrest and that you don't get lawyer even thow the constitution give right to lawyer and trail by jury of your fellow citizen and that will help Rand Paul beat anyone democrat side.

    • profile image

      OB 5 years ago

      Forget about Chris Christie. The American people have not elected a fat President since William Howard Taft, at the beginning of the 20th century. Today's campaigns can't be run from the caboose of a train, stopping ocassionally to deliver a short speecth, get back inside the car and drive off. A candidate needs stamina in today's world. I mean, how much bigger can we make our airplanes?

    • profile image

      Steve 5 years ago

      The Republicans will put up a moderate again. The next four years will likely be similar to the last four. More folks will end up dependent on the government, and as we as a Country have lost our moral compass, the masses will vote in another Democrat, for fear that Republicans would cut entitlements. The Republican will lose (regardless of who they put up - the 47% will be over 50%) and the Democrats will have control for quite a while until there are neither jobs nor enough money in the coffers to keep the government checks coming. Then there will be a more conservative elected. If I am still around, it will be interesting to see if recovery is possible after complete collapse.

    • profile image

      JJ 5 years ago

      Hey guys what about Kelly Ayotte

    • profile image

      Nate Bernstein 5 years ago

      In my posting a few days ago I failed to mention that my "someone else" vote for the Republican presidential candidate in 2016 would be Michele Bachmann, the Minnesota Congresswoman who narrowly was re-elected last Tuesday.

    • profile image

      bobbb 5 years ago

      @Kyle, I agree that we need to pay more attention to the minorities and that its high time we had a Latino president or VP. I believe it will happen in 2016. I'm not so sure all of our 1950s ideals were bad though. Maybe we should take another look at some of them.

    • profile image

      mtrfoto 5 years ago

      Yes Romney could run again I hope he does but I do not see it happening, this fool in The White House had to go.

    • profile image

      Kyle Scribner 5 years ago

      Susana Martinez, Governor of New Mexico should be in this conversation. She is an up and coming star in the Republican party.

      It's time for the old guard, with their 1950s' ideals to stand down, and let the Modern Republican Party to take its' place in today's political world

    • profile image

      Citizen in need 5 years ago

      General Petraeus 2016?

    • profile image

      bobbb 5 years ago

      Its pitiful that neither party can field a candidate that is acceptable to most of our citizens. It seems logical that, with an election as close as our elections have become, the "winner" should be the president and the "loser" should be the vice president with more responsibilities than the current VP. Just a thought. That way 90% of the people would feel like they got something out of an election. It might also teach both sides that they must be able to compromise because together they would represent almost all of the people. I know that isn't the way things work but we need something better than what we currently have. Nearly 50% of the people feel like they got the shaft, and its happening every time for one side or the other.

    • profile image

      Brent 5 years ago

      @Mr. Bersntein: I agree with you 100%. It's the reason I chose to leave, my hearts not in it anymore. I can't deal with the BS that happens there day in and day out. The election results were the straw that broke the back for me (Though I admit I left a year before it but now decide to never go back). I promise I'll be better off for leaving and so will you for me leaving. Dead weight is never good for any society. On to greener pastures for us both I hope. Best of luck... With respect...Brent....

    • profile image

      Nate Bernstein 5 years ago

      To Brent above: Good to get rid of you. Those marines (& one sailor) that hoisted that flag on Mount Surabachi in Iwo Jima certainly would not appreciate your posting.

    • profile image

      Brent 5 years ago

      I did what many of you said out loud but will/would never do. I moved out of the country!! The age old saying that you hear from all Americans "If you don't like it, leave and don't let the door hit you on the way out"... Well I did just that. Good luck America, I will sit on the sidelines and avoid the collapse. RIP America.

    • profile image

      greg 5 years ago

      I hope a leader runs and gets elected so we can get

      out of the un rick perry ron paul or that

      guy who ran for the constitution pary

      virgil goodle this nation needs serious

      leadership by the way I VOTED FOR ROMNEY

    • profile image

      RichardSpeaks 5 years ago

      The Republicans do not stand a chance until they let go of the White Face and embrace the Brown Face. Latinos and other Hispanics are the force to be reckoned with and so far, the White Reds do not seem to get that fact. Besides, the Dems will ultimately talk Hilary into running in 2016, meaning eight more years of Democrats in the White House. Thank God.

    • profile image

      Henrik 5 years ago

      Isn't it possible that Romney will also run again in 2016?

    • RichardSpeaks profile image

      Richard Kent Matthews 5 years ago from Portland, OR Metro Area

      This lineup is the Face of Everything That's Wrong With America. The Dems will take it, no matter which of these strange beings gets nominated...

    • profile image

      Linda 5 years ago

      Why was Gov. Huckabee mentioned in the article but left off the poll???? Someone else is Gov. Huckabee..

    • RichardSpeaks profile image

      Richard Kent Matthews 5 years ago from Portland, OR Metro Area

      Shared this hub. Thanks.