You have now had a couple of days free of election angst. Vacation time is over.
Who are your choices -- or rather, what are your predictions -- regarding the major party nominations in 2016?
Do you think that the "major party" label will be restricted to the traditional two? Both conservatives and progs have made noises about the need for alternatives. (Note: Please understand that I'm asking here for a prediction, not a prescription. Keep wishful thinking to a minimum.)
When it comes to candidates, one factor seems to play a major role: Age. Hillary Clinton seems the obvious choice for the Democratic nomination, even though she will be closing in on 70. That's not a deal-breaker -- Ronald Reagan was roughly the same age when he became president. But a lot of people were very concerned about Reagan's age in 1980, and they were even more concerned in 1984, when a doddering debate performance nearly cost him the election.
Bill Clinton did everything he could on behalf of Barack Obama this year. I would go so far as to say that Obama would not have won without the Big Dog. It seems likely that Clinton went above and beyond the call of partisan duty because he wants the Democratic leadership to rally around his wife in 2016.
I hate to say it, but Al Gore is also starting to show his years. Some have mentioned Elizabeth Warren: She will be 67 in 2016. Joe Biden, otherwise an obvious choice, will be 74.
Some people are talking about Andrew Cuomo. Maybe. But he calls to mind that famous line from the salsa commercial: "New York City?"
Others have mentioned Rahm Emanuel. Not likely. The progressive base hates him.
Maryland's governor, Martin O'Malley, seems a nice possibility.
Jim Webb? Even better. He would carry an important purple state, and he provides that southern touch which tends to help Democrats.
Personally, I would prefer Al Franken. Granted, his background is decidedly odd. But if a grade B movie actor could become president, why not a grade A comedy writer?
On the Republican side:
Paul Ryan will make a run. I'm sure of that. But isn't his party burned out on the Ayn Rand thing? The great lesson of 2012 is that the cult of Atlas Shrugged is not suited to democracy.
Rand Paul: See Paul Ryan; add the word "Ditto."
Of the oddballs who ran in the primaries against Romney in 2012, two seem quite likely to make return appearances: Herman Cain and Rick Santorum. They will run, but they won't win.
The party base now sneers and boos whenever anyone mentions Chris Christie. For precisely that reason, he's a strong possibility in 2016 -- if the GOP wants to rebrand itself, as it damn well ought to. Dude's gotta lose some poundage, though.
If the party leadership is really serious about a makeover, they might consider Jon Huntsman. The Republicans may not be ready for another Mormon, even though this particular LDS-er is a lot more intrinsically likable.
Jeb Bush? No. I suspect that the Bush name will still be rather pungent in 2016.
Condi? I just don't think she's very popular.
One choice is obvious: Marco Rubio. Republicans now understand that they have a huge Latino problem. Rubio provides the instant solution. Plus, he would carry Florida.
My prediction: 2016 will come down to a battle between Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio. In that match-up, Rubio has the advantage.