When do we start looking ahead to 2016?

2016The 2016 presidential election is two years away. Hard to believe, ain’t it? I mean, didn’t we just have one of them presidential elections?

For whatever reason, it seems like time has flown since Barack Obama was re-elected. Maybe it’s my vantagepoint in Virginia, where our off-year state elections make it so that we literally have an election of some consequence every year.

Here in Virginia, the midterms have been eerily quiet, with a Senate race that isn’t all that competitive, and a slew of House races that have been far from sexy, especially after our thunderstorm of a spring with the historic upset of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in his June Republican primary.

Nationally, Republicans have their sights set on taking control of the U.S. Senate, and the forecasts have the GOP as the odds-on favorite to get to 51. The question could be, though, when, as in, will Republicans reach the magic number on Election Night, or might there be some overtime?

And it’s looking likely that it may go into overtime before the Senate majority is final and official, with the strong possibility of runoffs being needed in Georgia and Louisiana, and close races in other swing states that could go to runoff.

The impact on the Road to 2016 is that as long as the outcome of 2014 is still at least somewhat in doubt, it’s unlikely that we’ll see any of the serious contenders on either side of the two-party divide make any kind of formal announcement about their intentions for the White House.

The reason: a desire not to compete for attention with a still-ongoing political situation.

You get a campaign up and running publicly to begin to raise money and get folks signed on to support your cause, get staff and volunteers in place, that sort of thing. When the money, the support, the staff, the volunteers are all needed elsewhere, you’re best served as a potential and likely candidate for the next cycle to just lay low.

Which isn’t to say that you don’t continue doing what you’re doing in lining up support behind the scenes, getting commitments from major donors, potential key staff, those who can offer key endorsements in the early primary and caucus states. You just don’t need to do it publicly, even with the incentive to try to get out ahead of the pack.

So we’re not likely to see anything official from Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush and the rest until the dust has settled on the Senate fight, which could be next week, and just as likely could be after Thanksgiving.

If it’s between the holidays, expect the flurry of announcements to delay until after the first of the year. No one wants to compete with the frenzy that is the walkup to Christmas and New Year’s.

– Column by Chris Graham

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