America has never had a female major party candidate nominated to be president, but the odds are growing that it will happen in 2016.
The current favorite for the 2016 Democratic nomination is a woman, and there are at least four other potential candidates in both parties.
It isn’t that female candidates haven’t tried. Hillary Clinton came the closest when she lost the Democratic nomination in 2008 to Barack Obama.
Here’s a look at the top prospects for 2016, starting with the Democratic frontrunner.
The current Secretary of State is a huge favorite for the 2016 nomination for her party.
Clinton is expected to step down from her cabinet position next year. She would be 68 years old at the time of the 2016 convention.
The big question is if she will pursue the nomination.
Clinton has said in the past that she wasn’t interested in a second presidential run. But political watchers believe it will be Clinton’s decision in about two years to pursue the nomination.
One sign that experts point to was the tireless work of her husband, President Bill Clinton, in the final weeks of the Obama campaign.
The Clintons have collected an impressive amount of political IOUs, so it’s unclear if anyone in the Democratic Party would contest her nomination if she ran.
If Clinton decides not to run in 2016, there isn’t a clear-cut alternative at the moment.
Elizabeth Warren is on the current short list of potential nominees, along with several others, including Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and Vice President Joe Biden (who would be 72 at the time of the convention).
Warren is a liberal icon and was recently called “the scholarly heroine of the political left” by The Washington Post.
She would be 67 at the time of the convention.
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Warren is just starting her first term in the Senate. But she has already played a significant role in shaping policy, including leading the creation of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She’s also a dynamic speaker who excites Democrats–and gets an opposite response from Republicans.
The former Secretary of State in the Bush administration, Condoleezza Rice is hugely popular among the Republican base.
Rice, who would be 60 in 2016, is always ranked at the top of GOP candidates in polling, despite never having held elected office.
The one drawback to her potential vice presidential candidacy in 2012 was her pro-choice position on abortion.
If the GOP shifts more toward the center as a party, Rice wouldn’t have any barriers in her way to pursuing a presidential or vice presidential nomination.
The bigger question is about Rice’s interest in running for any elected office. In 2012, she was adamant about not having any interest.
What seemed a certainty now seems a long shot: Sarah Palin’s campaign for a GOP presidential nomination.
The 2008 vice presidential candidate chose not to run in the 2012 primaries. Perhaps it was because the poll numbers weren’t good, or because Palin made the calculation that it wasn’t time to challenge Barack Obama.
But with Palin as a polarizing figure within her own party, it seems that she would be one of as many as a dozen candidates fighting it out for the 2016 nomination.
In recent months, Palin started mentioning the need for a possible third party in American politics.
Could Palin leave the Republican Party and join a group that is more in line with her values? That remains to be seen.
The current governor of New Mexico, Martinez was a rumored vice presidential candidate in 2012.
She would be 57 during the 2016 presidential campaign and could help bridge the GOP’s perceived gap with women and Hispanics.
Martinez spoke at the GOP convention, where she distanced herself from some party positions, especially immigration.
Martinez would need to raise her national profile, and like the other candidates, the 2016 GOP primary season could land her in an historic dogfight.
Contenders like Florida senator Marco Rubio, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, senator-elect Ted Cruz, Congressman Paul Ryan, and former Florida governor Jeb Bush have bigger reputations, and potentially more lucrative campaign support.
Others to watch: Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Representative Michele Bachmann, Governor Nikki Haley, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator Amy Klobuchar, and Senator Kelly Ayotte