I just can't quit you, presidential politics.

I was going to write about something else for this week's column: coffee selections, TV shows, why good movies aren't being made anymore (that one might be a keeper), but nothing, and I mean nothing, got me thinking like the next presidential election did.

I have predicted previously that a second Obama term would be a massive disappointment to just about everyone — not because Obama would be bad, but because the next two years or so will probably look a lot like the last two years, and no one was happy with that situation. History tells us that Obama's last two years in office will be something like trudging through wet cement, as chances are the Republicans have a decent chance of getting the Senate, barring an economic recovery.

It seems to me that this next presidential election will probably be similar to 2008, at least in regards to how the party feels right now. The Republicans have lots of potential candidates, but none (save one, more on who later) who are particularly strong. The Democrats have a few really strong candidates, but not much depth. The major difference is that the Republicans will probably put up a better candidate in 2016 than they have since Bush in 2000.

Right now, the Democrats are surprisingly lacking in the young potential star department. The first two names that come to mind are Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. Given their stature, they have to be considered as the front runners. However, a few years will make a name for other candidates, and depending on how the next four years turn out, they may want to look outside the obvious choices.

The next name that comes to mind is New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. He has a good reputation, comes from a solidly Democratic state, is fairly young in the game, and would probably be compared with Bill Clinton. One more name that is being batted around is Martin O'Malley. While Democrats will love him, he's probably a term in Congress away from checking off all the boxes.

The Republicans, I think, are probably pretty excited about their prospects on the state and local levels. However, few of these are very "presidential" and range from the awkward (Bobby Jindal) to the tainted with defeat (Paul Ryan, and please don't say Sarah Palin) to those with unacceptable social stances (Jan Brewer). Rob Portman, who should attend primaries wearing an "I'm from Ohio!" sign, may be a better VP candidate than a presidential one. Nikki Haley, governor of South Carolina, is a dark horse. She has an excellent conservative record on top of being a woman and a minority, and Republicans might look to her as someone who could help bridge those gaps in their party's image. I have to think that she would be in the driver's seat for the VP nomination, at least.

Of course, the elephant in the room is the current star of the Republican Party, Chris Christie. He's got the best combination of name recognition, charisma, and respect of any of the candidates. He's the rare Republican who can sound like a regular guy, and he has managed to be very direct in his language without coming across as a giant jerk. The major thing standing in his way is this: if he were to be the candidate, it would signify a major shift to the center by conservatives. However, I can't imagine that his debate performances wouldn't be good and he appeals to the middle more than most Republicans. It will be interesting to see if that will be enough.

Of course, I have gone this far without stating the obvious: if Obama's second term goes terrible (and I don't think it will), we may just see Mitt once again.

— Greg Bearringer is a graduate student in history. He may be reached at gbearrin@utk.edu.