We haven’t certified the 2014 election results, which can only mean one thing:

It’s time to start looking at the 2016 election.

All the buzz is that California’s 74-year-old U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer is retiring in 2016. She’s got less than $150,000 in the bank. If she doesn’t raise money fast, she’ll be vulnerable to an intra-party challenge from an ambitious Democrat-in-waiting. Paging Ro Khanna.

As far back as 2011, reporters have been setting the stage for the inevitable “Kamala vs. Gavin” showdown for either governor or U.S. Senate.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that they’re on a collision course for running for governor in 2018,” Democratic consultant Garry South told the L.A. Times earlier this year.

The Friday following the 2014 general election, the San Francisco Chronicle asked, “Newsom vs. Harris: Who got bigger bang for the buck?” Even former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa gets mentioned before, arguably, the strongest Democrat-in-waiting: Controller John Chiang.

Here at CalNewsroom.com, we’re convinced that John Chiang belongs in the top-tier. Thus far, only the Desert Sun’s Sammy Roth has given Chiang the same billing as Kamala, Gavin and Antonio. Chiang’s second billing baffles us, especially when you look at the 2014 margin of victory.

2014 Margin of Victory: Chiang bests Harris and Newsom

There are still roughly half a million late absentee and provisional ballots left to count, but Chiang’s on pace to deliver the best performance of any statewide candidate after Gov. Jerry Brown, hereafter referred to as A.B. (After Brown).

Despite being further down the ballot than Newsom, Chiang earned the most votes A.B. and had the widest margin of victory A.B. He’ll be the second candidate in the state to hit 4 million votes in November 2014.

Chiang performed 2.8 percent better than Kamala, and 3.4 percent better than Newsom. His margin of victory – 17.2 percent – was closer to Brown’s 19.4 percent than it was to Harris or Newsom.

If you were to classify winning Democrats, you’d put Brown and Chiang in Tier 1 and Harris and Newsom in Tier 2. Of course, as our stock broker commonly reminds us, “Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results.”

Nov. 2014 Performance: California Statewide Democrats

Candidate Race Votes Percent Margin %
Jerry Brown Governor          4,140,682 59.7                 1,344,232 19.4
John Chiang Treasurer          3,945,528 58.6                 1,155,968 17.2
Kamala Harris Attorney General          3,872,021 57.2                     976,967 14.4
Gavin Newsom Lt. Governor          3,876,147 56.9                     939,871 13.8

Cross-posted at CalNewsRoom.