Chris Matthews: Sen. Paul will be the 2016 GOP nominee

Updated

Let me finish tonight with this.

I’ve been offering a prediction of late.  Let me nail it down tonight.

I believe the Republican party is going to go hard-right in 2016.  It’s going to someone from the growing hard-right wing of the party, something it hasn’t done since 1980.

Here’s the thinking, which works equally well for Democrats as well.

Parties, as you’ve noticed, face a conflict every four years: should they run someone who represents their strongest passions - right or left? - or do they run someone who appeals to the center?

Most of the time, they head to the center.

This is what Republicans did most successfully in 1952 - when, after twenty years of Roosevelt and Harry Truman - they wanted back in the White House.  They ran the general who received the Nazi surrender and won big.

In 1956 and 1960 they stuck to the middle, with Ike the second time, then Richard Nixon.

In 1964, the right said it was its turn and blew the roof off the Cow Palace out in San Francisco - mocking Republican moderates and liberals like New York governor Nelson Rockefeller - then getting killed by Lyndon Johnson in November.

The Democrats ran moderates in 1960 and 1964 and 1968 but then went wild in 1972 and ran anti-Vietnam warrior George McGovern of South Dakota.  That’s the year  the Democrats got killed.

And so the pendulum goes.  The party bases get pushed aside for several elections and finally build up steam - much like a volcano - and come roaring to the surface.

Obama won in 2008 over Hillary Clinton because the opponents of the Iraq War - had had it with party leaders who played it safe and backed the war.

I believe that the Republican base will do the same in 2016.  They put up with George Bush the first, put up with Bob Dole, were deeply disappointed by the big-spending George W and last year, again, by Mitt Romney and are now going to come loaded for bear into the race for 2016.

So I predict the hard right is going to take over the Republican party in 2016 and that the nomination is going to Rand Paul.

You watch!  This is what I do for a living.

Chris Matthews: Sen. Paul will be the 2016 GOP nominee

Updated