The Countdown Begins: 2016 Presidential election is a year away

by PABLO ROA

On Nov. 3, millions of Americans from around the country went to their local polling places to vote on Election Day. While state and local elections rarely gain as much publicity and public interest as national elections, Tuesday’s elections marked a big milestone in American politics: the 2016 presidential election is officially a year away.

Granted, the election has dominated the news cycle for months and many Americans might already be sick of hearing about the campaign. But with the general election officially less than a year away, many will begin to focus even more on the race to succeed Barack Obama in the White House.

With that in mind, here’s a quick look at where the 2016 presidential election stands as the countdown to election day reaches the one-year mark:

GOP: Carson and Trump Lead A Still-Crowded Field

While a few candidates have dropped out over the last few months, the race for the GOP nomination is still crowded and somewhat hectic. As of today, 15 candidates are in the running for the nomination.

At the top of the pack, of course, are self-proclaimed non-politicians Ben Carson and Donald Trump. Trump led the GOP field for 107 consecutive days, before relinquishing the lead to Carson earlier this week. Despite the change in polling, both Carson and Trump remain the clear frontrunners in the race for the nomination. After them, things aren’t quite as clear.

According to national polling averages from Real Clear Politics, 11 of the remaining 12 candidates are well behind the two frontrunners and have been unable to escape single-digit territory. The closest to Carson and Trump is Sen. Marco Rubio, who has 11 percent of the vote and trails Trump by 13.6 points.

Courtesy: Real Clear Politics
Courtesy: Real Clear Politics

DNC: A Two-Horse Race (and Martin O’Malley)

The race is a bit less complex on the Democratic side, if only because there are far, far fewer candidates. Former senators Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee dropped out last month, leaving the race for the nomination to former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Senator Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley.

As of today, Clinton has 54.8 percent of the vote in Real Clear Politic’s national polling — a 22.3-point lead over Sanders. Clinton’s campaign has seen increased momentum in recent weeks after her impressive performance in the first debate and the Benghazi hearing. Clinton was also aided by the fact that Vice President Joe Biden decided not to run for president, as most of his would-be voters likely went to Clinton’s side.

Despite Clinton’s lead and momentum, Sanders supporters are confident that the race isn’t over and that the battle between Clinton and Sanders will continue well beyond the key early-voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

“After a few good weeks, there is only one way for Hillary Clinton to go: down,” said junior government and politics and theater major Christopher Walkup, co-founder of the UMD grassroots organization Terps for Bernie.

“Sanders can only go up…Clinton may be rounding out her Era of Good Feelings, but her constantly fluctuating poll numbers indicate that her followers are more fickle than Bernie’s.”

Unfortunately for O’Malley, the campaign is mostly a two-horse race between Clinton and Sanders. In Real Clear Politics’ polling averages, O’Malley has just 1.8 percent of the vote.

Courtesy: Real Clear Politics
Courtesy: Real Clear Politics

The Debates

With the Iowa caucuses less than three months away, the primary debate season is well underway for both parties.

The Republican candidates have already met on the debate stage three times, with eight debates remaining. The next debate will be Nov. 10 in Milwaukee.

There has only been one debate so far for the Democratic candidates, with the next official debate set for Nov. 14 in Iowa. The candidates will meet on the debate stage five more times.

The (Very) Long and Winding Road to the White House

For some, the fact that the 2016 election is finally getting closer is a relief. Freshman computer science major Mike Wittner says it’s absurd that people have been discussing the 2016 election for so long and argues that Americans should’ve spent more time focusing on pressing issues instead.

“I feel like people should’ve been more worried about what was going on with the government at the time,” Wittner said. “People don’t realize that the current government isn’t compromising and nothing’s getting done without it.”

Despite the long process inherent to presidential elections in this country, some believe it’s crucial to follow the election from the beginning so that people make informed decisions come election day. And with the 2016 elections a year away, many believe now is the the time to start paying attention.

“It’s very important,” freshman physics majorJared Dobry said. “It’s even more important now than it was at the beginning of the election season.”

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