90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Politics

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum addresses the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Barely 24 hours after Americans reelected Barack Obama to the presidency, Rick Santorum sent a mass email to thousands of conservative activists.

Santorum, the former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania and the runner-up to Mitt Romney in this year’s Republican presidential nomination, was writing ostensibly to urge unity between Republicans and Democrats in the face of the looming fiscal challenges. But the real purpose of Santorum’s email was to signal that he’s gearing up for another run for the White House in 2016.

“As a result of this election,” Santorum wrote, “we now need to engage with even more energy and commitment not just in politics, but in our daily lives, to ensure that the values upon which our country has prospered will continue.” And here is the kicker: “Karen and I look forward to working side by side with you to make that happen.”

At this early stage, the only certainty is that Santorum will have a lot of company in the race for the nomination.

It is an open secret that Santorum intends to run once again for the GOP presidential nomination. Why? Because history tells him he should.

The history of the modern Republican Party suggests that the 2016 presidential nominee will be someone who has previously lost the nomination. Since 1980, five out of the six GOP presidential nominees had been runners-up at least once before: Ronald Reagan won the nomination in 1980 but had lost in 1976; George H.W. Bush won in 1988 but had lost in 1980; Bob Dole won in 1996 but had lost in 1976 and 1988; John McCain won in 2008 but had lost in 2000; and most recently Mitt Romney won in 2012 but had lost in 2008. The only exception is George W. Bush, who won the GOP nomination on his first try in 2000.

No wonder Santorum is optimistic about his chances for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. But at this early stage, the only certainty is that Santorum will have a lot of company in the race for the nomination.

The next time around the Republican Party has at least five strategies to select its 2016 presidential nominee and Santorum may not be the best fit for any of them.

First, The Republicans could opt to select a candidate of conservative purity, someone whose conservative bona fides are known and reliable. This category includes former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, South Dakota Senator John Thune, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker or the most recent GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan.

Second, Republicans could choose a moderate, a candidate who can appeal to the center and battle the Democratic Party for moderate swing state voters. In this category, the early favorites are New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte, former Utah Governor John Huntsman, and former New York Governor George Pataki.

Third, the Republican Party could find a candidate who is neither ideological nor moderate but rather a pragmatic problem solver. Some prospective candidates in this category are New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, and former Tennessee Senator Bill Frist.

Fourth, the Republican Party could quite simply pick a big-name star who is already widely known, such as former Governors Jeb Bush or Sarah Palin.

But my guess is that the Republican Party will opt for someone in the fifth category: a youthful, energetic, dyed-in-the-wool conservative whose face represents the nation’s changing demographics. On this list are South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez.

Where does this leave Rick Santorum? He falls in the first category of ideological candidates. Opposed to abortion and marriage equality, he is a father of seven who sees himself as an uncompromising champion of traditional conservative values. But why not get double the value by picking someone who gives you all that Santorum gives you plus the great visual of a non-white GOP standard bearer?

The second strike against Santorum may be the narrowness of his support base in the 2012 GOP nomination race. While much of his committed voting bloc will stand by his side in 2016, it may not be large enough to put him over the top.

Still, it remains possible that Rick Santorum will win the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. History tells us he has a great shot. But he will need more than an interesting historical trend to win.

Tags: Election 2012

The views and opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of the writer and do not in any way reflect the views of WBUR management or its employees.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • LeonardNicodemo

    Santorum running would be a disaster for the GOP. They need to nominate someone like Huntsman.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Leticia-Velasquez/1653352466 Leticia Velasquez

      Huntsman did so poorly in the primaries he was out after New Hampshire. Next suggestion?

  • Sinclair2

    Far-right conservative followers of Rick Santorum, Michelle Bachman and others who share their rigid theocratic and small-town governmental ideaology will shrink to a cult level as this country moves toward becoming more progressive. This could eventually lead to a third party. As the general population becomes more educated and well informed, the conservatives will continue to lose ground.

  • Prash

    Hahahaha … Thanks, I needed the laugh.

  • MF

    Did the GOP not learn anything this past election?

    • NP

      No, the far right never will learn this lesson. They have tried to convince the entire country that they are in touch with what the majority believes, but obviously, that isn’t the case. If they don’t smarten up, they will never will another election, which is fine by me!

    • Jasoturner

      Received wisdom brooks no correctives.

  • VOTE FOR OBAMA TODAY

    ,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,,.,.,.,.,.,.

    really WHO CARES !!!

    ,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,,.,.,.,.,.,.

    REPUBLICANS WERE FINE DURING SLAVERY BUT
    GUESS WHAT WE HAVE A BLACK PRESIDENT THAT
    HAD 2, COUNT THEM 2 LANDSLIDE VICTORIES, THE
    2ND EVEN GREATER THAN THE FIRST.

    NEXT WE WILL HAVE A FEMALE PRESIDENT WITH
    HILLARY CLINTON.

    ,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,,.,.,.,.,.,.

    WE DON’T NEED THE REPUBLICAN LIARS TO KEEP
    CHANGIING AND DOING WHAT THE DON’T BELIEVE
    IN JUST TO WIN AND THEN DO THE COMPLETE
    OPPOSITE OF WHAT THEY SAID THEY’D DO.

    ,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,,.,.,.,.,.,.

    WE NEED NEW PARTIES THAT ACTUALLY STAND FOR
    SOMETHING ….THIINK?????? WE NEED PERHAPS
    LIBERTARIANS, PROGRESSIVES, GREEN PARTIES.
    BUT NO TEA PARTIES THAT ARE JUST REPUBLICANS
    IN SHEEPS CLOTHING.

    ,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,.,,.,.,.,.,.,.

    REPUBLICANS ARE NOT WELCOME !!!!!! HINT…..

    • Daniel

      uh abraham lincoln was a republican

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Leticia-Velasquez/1653352466 Leticia Velasquez

      So you are calling for a one party system?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Garretson/100001092495626 John Garretson

      You’re an idiot. Republicans fought to abolish slavery when Democrats were supporting it it. Republicans fought to eradicate Jim Crow laws that were being put forward by Democrats. Republicans championed a woman’s right to vote while Democrats tried to stop it from ever happening. Throughout history, the republicans have been the party that has stood for equal rights for all men and women. If you have been brainwashed by the liberal media into not believing me… pick up a political history book and read about it a little.

  • J__o__h__n

    Tea-baggers for Santorum!

  • galdove

    I do believe that each of the primary candidates were at one time a favored pick with their party, even Bachman. Now that should tell you they have no clue of what is good representative for them. For some odd reason Huntsman never made their favor while all along they never really like Romney. It is real simple, stop trying to find the one to fit. Someone appealing, with personality, truthfulness, can separate church and state and has a complete disassociation with anyone or anything that is coo-koo in its belief, will be your next candidate. So of your list, Christie, Bush, Frist, Barbour, Huntsman, and maybe Thune at least half a clean start. Any of those others …FUGGEDABOUTIT!!

  • Elijah

    The election was rigged. Obama hired a company from Spain to count votes. Obama rigged this election. Wake Up America.

  • Elijah

    Look it up on Youtube on the Michael Savage Show. Obama even said when I am reelected. The 2016 election might tell us that the election was rigged when the GOP wins the white house.

  • MarkInOhio

    If they nominate the extremist Ricky Santorum in 2016, they will lose even bigger than they did the last two times. I wonder when (or whether) it will dawn on republicans that it is the message that is the problem, not the messenger.

  • Imran Nasrullah

    Really?! Do we need a conservative buffoon?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Leticia-Velasquez/1653352466 Leticia Velasquez

    Rick Santorum was the last GOP candidate standing in the primary against Romney in crucial Midwestern states like Ohio, Iowa, and Michigan. He did not have the funds to run ads like Romney did, but he had the juice with the ordinary Joe the plumber that Romney did not have.
    Given Romney’s money, Santorum might have squeaked out a victory.

  • Tothian

    Reagan also won the most votes in the GOP Primary of 1968 more than Nixon by a slight margin in the popular vote, but not with the delegates.

    Dole was the VP Nominee in 1976, and also lost the nomination in 1980.

    George W. Bush wasn’t previously a candidate for President but he did have family name recognition.

    Some traditions with politicians do tend to break. The 0 Year Curse every 20 years which Reagan & Bush Jr. sort of broke. The VP ’12 Curse, the fact that Governors usually beat Presidents in Presidential Elections. The fact that the way Bush won, statistically he wouldn’t have won a 2nd term but he did.

    Here are some more interesting facts and trivia about the Presidents and Vice Presidents of the United States:

    http://www.tothian.blogspot.com/2011/05/us-presidency-history-electability.html

    -Tothian

  • Tothian

    Chris Christie would make a great choice for 2016. He wasn’t previously a candidate but he was a Potential Candidate who was asked to run, and considered it, but then decided against it.

    Other traditions in the past such as a Dewey, Nixon, Dole, Bush, or Arizona Senator being on the ticket was no longer the case in 2012.

    1944- DEWEY loses Presidential election

    1948- DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN (J/K, DEWEY re-loses Presidential election)

    1952- NIXON elected VP

    1956- NIXON re-elected VP

    1960- NIXON loses Presidential election

    1964- ARIZONA SENATOR Barry Goldwater loses Presidential election

    1968- NIXON elected President

    1972- NIXON re-elected President

    1976- DOLE loses VP

    1980- BUSH elected VP

    1984- BUSH re-elected VP

    1988- BUSH elected President

    1992- BUSH loses Presidential election

    1996- DOLE loses Presidential election

    2000- BUSH elected President

    2004- BUSH re-elected President

    2008- ARIZONA SENATOR John McCain loses Presidential election

  • jonathan

    i think Rick Santorum running for president in 2016 will be great thing he’s the one that could get us out of this obama care mess that we’re in now and he could change our country around RICK SANTORUM 2016.

    • Jim Bob

      I’m rooting for both Bachman and Santorum to win the next Repubican nomination so the Republicans will become a has-been in modern 21st century politics.

  • In2016

    Trust me, by the time we reach 2016, many of us will probably blame Obama/Democratic party for anything bad that is happening in America at that time (My guess probably would be rising national debt)

    At that point, whoever wins the nomination from the other side (The Republican party) will most likely win the election to become the 45th president of the United States, regardless of their ideology.

    Santorum 2016

  • http://twitter.com/Cathconservativ Ken Everett

    Santorum, this time around, represented the best potential to articulate what is increasingly apparent, our social ills are driving our fiscal ills. He couldn’t quite do it, but can he figure it out by 2016? Will anyone else in the GOP get it? But aborting 54 million people, pursuing policies that weaken familes, these lead to less consumers, less economic growth, and a whole lot of government entitlement expenditures. If Santorum can refine his message, then he should join the field in 2016.

  • Pingback: Election 2016: Is Rick Santorum Next?

  • http://twitter.com/NotWhiteyBulger NotWhiteyBulger

    No he won’t be. But sadly, Dems won’t have Obama to run again. Your candidate may have to actually be vetted again without fear from the PC police. Good luck to you. Can you say even playing field?

  • http://twitter.com/NotWhiteyBulger NotWhiteyBulger

    What will you do if a race traitor like Marco Rubio runs? (I thought only the right was bigoted)

  • http://twitter.com/NotWhiteyBulger NotWhiteyBulger

    Think Axelrod can turn Deval Patrick into Obama part 2?

  • http://www.facebook.com/chris.hamner.77 Chris Hamner

    Santorum is Next in Line to win the Nomination. It’s his turn. Good News for Hillary or Joe. :) Good News for us Liberals

  • Lupe Gomez

    LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ….oh wait, this article is serious?

  • Mozart The Dog

    Rick Santorum is the ultimate voice of reason for us conservatives. But the party will in all likely-hood have to go with Rubio, Jindal, or a woman to make history the way the Democrats did with the first African American. Not to take anything away from anyone, but right now we need the wisdom of Rick Santorum and the odds are not in his favor at this time. Nonetheless, he’s got my vote!

TOP