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While the calendar may claim it is still May of 2014, one would think that the 2016 race for the White House is already underway. It’s just about impossible to turn on a cable news station, read a newspaper, magazine or general interest website, or even engage in friendly bar conversation without someone talking about who is, will, should or should not be the next president.
We won’t actually go to the polls to select a president until November 8, 2016. Which, for those keeping track, is 901 days from the day this issue of The Pulse is distributed. About six or so months prior to that, we’ll have to contend with the main party primaries, but even so, it’s still a long ways away before we really have to pay attention.
Or is it?
Generally speaking, Tennessee and Georgia haven’t really had an impact on a presidential race since about 2000 (if Al Gore had been able to win his home state, he would have been president). And while Georgia has been trending a bit more blue, both states (and most of the Deep South) are still very much rock-solid Republican strongholds when it comes to presidential elections.
Where we do come into play, though, and strongly at that, is in the party primaries. One only has to think back to the most recent campaign season to remember when nearly every Republican candidate of note made mulitple visits to both the Volunteer and the Peach states.
So why are we so important? While no major candidate has yet formally announced, that hasn’t stopped a dozen of so hopefuls to already begin fundraising and agressively hitting the speaking circuit. And on the GOP side, with the Republican National Committee severely curtailing the number of televised debates, the need to “press the flesh” will make it more likely that even cities the size of Chattanooga will have a chance to met some (if not all) of the candidates.
While it may seem a bit ludicrous to be thinking about such things well over two years in advance, every politician knows that you can never get started campaiging (and raising money) soon enough. And simply because one candidate may be seen now as being “inevitable”, simply look at the 2008 campaign when no one gave the junior senator from Illinois a chance against the “inevitable” Hillary Clinton to see how the “inevitable” can quickly change.
We still have some breathing room before the true political madness begins. Some. Once we get through the upcoming mid-term elections, expect to see about one (maybe two) days of post-election analysis and then all eyes and ears will be focused on one thing only: who gets the keys to the Oval Office come January 20, 2017.
So, for now, relax. Don’t stress about names such as Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry, Paul Ryan, Rick Santorum, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Howard Dean or anyone else, for that matter.
You’ll have plenty of time later. Over 900 days, in fact.