Sunday was Hillary’s day to announce the inevitable: that she was running for president. Monday was Marco’s day to do the same. Rand threw his hat in the ring last week. But Ted trumped all three last month by making his announcement first. Wait -- Marco? Rand? Ted? Who exactly are they?
While seasoned political observers can easily answer that question, it is one that is likely to be echoed by neophyte and otherwise moderately interested voters alike -- and possibly many others -- over the next 19 months as more confirmed White House hopefuls (such as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul) rev up their campaigns in attempts at making themselves into the type of household name that Hillary (Clinton, of course) has enjoyed for decades now.
In a November 2014 poll, 40 percent of Americans said they didn’t know who Republican senators Rubio or Cruz were. Even fewer people recognized Paul’s name, and virtually no one had heard of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has not yet declared his candidacy but is widely expected to.
On the other end of that spectrum, Clinton, a Democrat, was the best known potential candidate for the 2016 presidential election from either major political party, according to a poll from the summer of 2014. She’s taken some hits over certain topics, such as her handling of the U.S. embassy attack in Benghazi, Libya, and her e-mail practices as U.S. Secretary of State. Even with those scandals being revisited and highlighted, and a poll that showed her losing a bit of ground in the arenas of honesty and leadership, she has remained popular in her party.
Fundraising Is Not A Given
Clinton is expected to be able to follow U.S. President Barack Obama’s juggernaut record-breaking $1.21 billion fundraising effort in 2012 -- she’s inviting donors to give personal contributions of up to $27,000 and, on Sunday, one of her campaign officials asked people to “donate $3, $5, $10, whatever they can.” One prominent Democratic donor told the Hill that “Hillary supporters that were there in 2008 will be there for her again,” when she raised $229 million before Obama won the party’s nomination.
Still, advisers have cautioned against expecting the type of fundraising numbers Obama saw, or even the amount Hillary raised during the 2008 primary. “The standards she will be judged on are so high and ridiculous,” Democratic strategist Donna Brazile told Bloomberg. “The expectations are sky high and they’re based on fiction.”
Cruz got off to a fast fundraising start by generating $4 million from small donors in the first eight days of his candidacy, but if history is any indication, his target of raising $40 million over the next year may not be enough, with average donations of $83.
Paul also flexed his fundraising muscle quickly and surpassed $1 million in the 24 hours after he announced his candidacy, showing that he too has the know-how to get donors to dig deep in their pockets. The question now is whether or not he and his donors can sustain the effort.
INCREDIBLE! Thanks to supporters like you my campaign for President has now raised over $1,000,000 - entirely ONLINE. pic.twitter.com/kAW6xJOYhq
â€” Dr. Rand Paul (@RandPaul) April 8, 2015
In a move that may shed some light on how he feels about his actual chances of winning the Republican presidential nomination, Paul has also set up a fundraising committee that allows donors to give to both his presidential and Senate campaigns at the same time.
While it’s still too early to put a finger on the pulse of Rubio’s presidential fundraising efforts, the Washington Post pointed to the success he’s had raising money through three federal committees with nearly $50 million over the course of three election cycles.
However, billionaire Norman Braman has pledged to “give substantially” to Rubio’s campaign, and Republican media consultant Alex Castellanos put it all in perspective: “All you need is one big contributor ... to fund you and you can stay in the race. Say, for example, you had a guy named Braman who could give you $10 [million].”
While the electoral college keeps presidential elections from becoming a popularity contest, name recognition can certainly be a boon for primaries and the general election. A widespread belief may be that Clinton’s name rings bells because one of her family members once held the seat that she aspires to.
Likewise, Jeb Bush is looking to ascend to the same White House once occupied by his own relatives: first by his father, George H.W., and later his brother, George W. His family’s dynastic presence in Washington will almost certainly rally past supporters for his present effort, as found by a recent poll that showed 13 percent of Republican voters were giving him the edge over other GOP candidates.
This Vox infographic based on a four-part graph (with quadrants for popular, well-known, unpopular and poorly-known) showed Clinton as the only candidate with a favorable rating, as all of the Republican candidates (current and expected) were shown hovering around the unpopular and poorly-known quadrants.
Ted Cruz's announcement that he would seek the nation's highest office resonated with voters, according to a recent poll that placed him neck-and-neck with undeclared candidates Walker and Bush, showing an increased amount of support nationally up to 16 percent from 5 percent. However, according to the Huffington Post, which maintains records on opinions of politicians, Ted Cruz still has an unfavorable rating of nearly 37 percent based on a total of 83 polls.
Likewise, Paul has experienced a boost in his national ratings, enjoying a slim percentage-point lead over Clinton in a recent poll of voters in the swing states of Colorado, Iowa and Virginia. Rubio, however, is polling in the single-digits across the board, CNN reported.
Most political experts have predicted that voters will go to the polls in November 2016 to choose between Bush and Clinton, both of whom already have presidential names and big-time backers. Barbara Bush, Jeb's mother, once famously said, “We’ve had enough Bushes” in the White House, but there is at least one somewhat partial person who disagrees.
“There are some people that’ll say there’s no way I’m going to vote for somebody with that name,” George W. Bush said, according to MSNBC. “Of course if [Jeb] were to run against Hillary Clinton then I think the name issue would somewhat dissipate.”