Trail To The Chief: Failure To Launch Edition

The Failure to Launch Edition

If you've glanced at the recent 2016 presidential election coverage -- a herd of reporters chasing a van; pundits penning potent, penetrating pieces on the providence of a visit to Chipotle -- the horrifying thought has likely occurred to you that there are many hundreds of days to go until Election Day. "Sweet fancy Moses," you probably thought, "it is way too early for this nonsense."

We can, and do, empathize. So you'll surely forgive us if this week we turn our attention away from how early it is in the season, and focus on a few people for whom it might actually be too late.

The trickle of declared presidential ambitions has become a flood. First, two anti-establishment tea party-ish freshman senators, Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), got into the race. Then, America lived through the anticlimax of the decade when Democrat Hillary Clinton released a brief announcement of her candidacy last week. Following that was the declaration of another freshman senator, Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Pending announcements are in the wings from Republican neurosurgeon Ben Carson and and former Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley of Maryland. Two other presumed Republican heavyweights, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, are well on their way toward officially getting in, too.

There are plenty of other hopefuls, still daydreaming of -- even hungering for -- the Oval Office.

But there is a sense that the window is rapidly closing, as billionaire funders, Beltway elites, and early-state activists and kingmakers in both parties sidle up to those already in the field. Candidates need to get a move on, if for no other reason than they need enough of a following in the polls to qualify for primary debates. If headlines reflect something of a collective unconsciousness, then many of the lesser luminaries who have yet to jump in may have already been left behind.

This week, we explore which of these potential candidates still pique interest, and which have already peaked. They are listed in descending order of plausibility, having been ranked using one of Trail to the Chief's secret, house-made big data algorithms. This formula combines the likelihood of a candidate’s entry into the race with whether anyone in the country cares at all if that person jumps in.

1 JOHN KASICHA blue-collar guy with crossover appeal, he’s a Midwestern governor who (unlike Walker) knows national politics and D.C. Seems thoughtful and usefully conflicted; he could fizzle -- or soar. Republican
2 BERNIE SANDERSThe Jesse Jackson of 2016. A fierce old-school New Dealer, he could easily get 15 percent in Iowa and annoy Clinton, who would not want to debate him one-on-one. Independent Socialist Democrat
3 JOE BIDENThis high on the list because he's the VP and a good guy. But he's perpetually waiting in the wings, slowly becoming a more and more spectral presence. Democrat
4 ELIZABETH WARRENWe like her high click rate on HuffPost. Appears to be running, not for prez, but for conscience of the Democratic Party -- which itself is running on the fumes of idealism. Democrat
5 LINDSEY GRAHAMA campaign as narrowcasting: Neocon trolling of Paul and Cruz will give this South Carolinian the money to run, which could have an impact in ... South Carolina. Republican
6 CHRIS CHRISTIEFirst he closed a bridge. Then he jumped off it by proposing to whack Social Security for the well-to-do. Note to Christie: Even those people think they “earned” the money. And it's usually older people who vote. Republican
7 LINCOLN CHAFEEHe and Jeb Bush were contemporaries at Andover, where they, shall we say, “experimented” with certain substances. TTTC is rooting for a preppy/stoner faceoff. Democrat
8 MIKE HUCKABEEPlenty of guns in America, and not enough grits and gravy to get Mike elected. Republican
9 JIM WEBBIn the old days you almost had to be a war hero, or at least a veteran, to be taken seriously. Jim Webb fits the bill, but still is only an obligatory mention alongside other Dems who will lose to Clinton. Democrat
10 (TIE) RICK PERRY & RICK SANTORUMTwo also-rans that can't make it off the small stages and into the prime-time. Republican
11 CARLY FIORINAShe's Io to Clinton's Jupiter. (If Neil deGrasse Tyson isn’t available, TTTC Googles all astronomical references. He wasn’t; we did.) Republican
12 BOBBY JINDALBashed in the Bayou for gubernatorial record, doesn't even look good on paper anymore. Republican
13 GEORGE PATAKILike a moose in a North Country swamp, the former governor of New York makes selective appearances in New Hampshire. Republican
14 ANDREW CUOMOBenefits from nostalgia. Many longtime observers wish his father had run -- that man could give a speech. Democrat

Candidate Photos: Getty, Associated Press