It's become clear that the Republican nomination will go to Mitt Romney this year, and that can only mean one thing: time to kick off the 2016 race. Out this week was a poll showing Hillary Clinton with a huge lead among possible Democratic candidates in 2016, with 57 percent. Vice President Joe Biden was second (14 percent).
If you want to know who liberals and conservatives will nominate, you have to understand what they really want.
When people say "Republicans always pick the next guy in line," they're not just whistling Dixie (although Southern support does help). That's what "conservative" means.
True conservatives remember the virtues of 1954, but not the inequities, and crave a return to that era. If they can't reverse time, they'll try to make it stop. Their ideal candidates (Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, Robert Young in "Father Knows Best") are dead, so they support ones who remind them of those guys, and with whom they're comfortable.
Mitt Romney lost in 2008 to John McCain, who lost in 2000 to George W. Bush, who had governed Texas for eight years and was the son of a president. Before Junior, the Republicans had Bob Dole in 1996, who lost the nomination in 1980 and '88; George Bush the Elder, who lost to Reagan in 1980 and was his vice president for eight years; and Reagan, who lost to Ford on the convention floor in 1976.
Democrats support the glistening newbie because that's what "progressive" means. Liberals acknowledge the inequities of 1954, but not the virtues. They want the world of 2112, with flying cars run on hemp, total social and financial equality, and groovy new dance moves even the middle-aged can master.
Their ideal candidates are so open-minded, multicultural and gender-blind we haven't evolved enough to produce them yet, so Dems seek the next best thing: fresh, young candidates without any significant track record.
Democrats rarely pick the next in line, and when they do, they lose. Their winners in the last 45 years are Barack Obama, whose political profile before his nomination was built on an awesome speech at the 2004 Democratic convention; Bill Clinton, who was unknown nationally until his speeches at the 1980 and 1988 Democratic conventions; and Jimmy Carter, who could have been chosen "governor least likely to be president" just months before his nomination.
They had Walter Mondale, who had been vice president, but got crushed. Mike Dukakis and John Kerry never sought national office before being nominated. The Dem's best recent shot at running the next pol in line was Al Gore, who had been vice president, and had run for president, but again, he didn't win.
Really. He didn't. Get over it.
There's a reason Democrats mostly support societal changes good and bad, like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, civil and women's' rights, the welfare state, urban renewal and gay marriage, while Republicans mostly stymie them. As William F. Buckley Jr. declared: "A conservative is someone who stands athwart history, yelling 'Stop.' " A liberal stands behind history, shoving it, screaming, "Hurry up." It's the compromise between the two -- the recognition of the value of our traditions and the value of improving upon them -- that's made this nation great. But when prognosticating, we must remember who is who.
Hillary Clinton will be 69 when the primaries begin in 2016, and will have been a part of our national political landscape for 25 years. Joe Biden will be 73, a former VP first elected to the Senate 44 years before.
At that point, they'll be no match for the shiny young Democrats and their promises of fission-powered air conditioners to end global warming, much less the reanimated cadaver of Robert Young they might have to face in the general election.
Lane Filler is a member of the Newsday editorial board.