Looking ahead to 2016

Midterm elections are in full swing, setting up the players and platforms for the race to the White House in 2016

With the control of the Senate in play, pick nearly any state that is competitive and you'll see heavy hitters and potential presidential candidates on the stump, rousing their bases, brandishing credentials and collecting IOUs.

The president isn't on any ballots, but Republicans have been running against him these midterms and expect him and his policies to continue as targets through 2016. Whether any of the big names take the presidential plunge and run in 2016 could be influenced by today's voting. Were the battles fought today rehearsals for what's to come? 

We consulted a panel of experts for the Inside Story.

‘The Republicans have glommed on the issues. With Ebola, foreign policy, it’s really important that people get to see what the off-season elections are like, and that gives a sustaining interest going into 2016.’

Michael Shure

political analyst, Al Jazeera America

Hillary Clinton — a former first lady, senator, presidential candidate and secretary of state — dramatically reappeared on the political scene in September at the annual Harkin Steak Fry in Iowa, a state she lost to Barack Obama in 2008. She hasn't declared her candidacy, but supporters are ready.

Iowa holds the first caucuses of the election cycle, so nearly all expected White House aspirants have been on the ground, getting attention and building support.

Campaigning in Iowa alongside the Republican candidate for senate Joni Ernst have been other high-profile potential candidates like Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and previous presidential candidate Gov. Rick Perry of Texas.

‘Social issues will still play a prominent role. And I expect there will be movement to bring Republicans to the center more on social issues to bring in young voters.’

Andra Gillespie

professor of political science, Emory University

Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren has also been on the hustings, supporting Bruce Braley, Ernst’s opponent for the open Senate seat.

“We’ve been counting on you, Kansas. You’re a Republican state, for goodness sakes,” said Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul in Kansas in support of the endangered incumbent, Sen. Pat Roberts, and revving up the base.

It’s a wide field of could-bes on the Republican side. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has made more than a dozen appearances outside his state in support of many candidates, such as Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott.

‘Republicans have to play to their base. The base has moved further right. We’ve seen an advent of the tea party. A lot of pent-up demand while … demonstrating that they can govern.’

Mike Viqueira

White House correspondent, Al Jazeera America

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