Prognosticators did much better predicting 1920’s Republican presidential nominee two years out than predicting 2016’s nominee.
From the time of the November  election issues between the two parties began to sharpen more rapidly. Two recognized leaders were in command; on the one side Wilson, on the other side Roosevelt [a former Republican president]. Then came, unexpectedly, Roosevelt’s death [in January 1919, a month prior to this article], and since then one fact has continued to impress itself more deeply on the Republican Party: What the party needs most is a leader.
In theory the next president after World War I would be a military leader, but that was not to be:
When the United States entered the war, the prediction was made, based on past experience, that our next President would be some General whose deeds in the fighting on the other side had thrilled the popular imagination. The civil war made Grant President, the Spanish-American War elevated Roosevelt. [And a few decades later, World War II would elevate Eisenhower.] But this war, owing to the suppression by the censorship policy of individual achievement, apparently has left us without a war hero of Presidential popularity among the American Generals who fought in France.
So who would be the 1920 Republican nominee? The anonymous author predicted either former President William Howard Taft or Ohio Senator Warren Harding.
On the Senate list Mr. Harding comes nearer to commanding the support of both ends of the party than any of the others. As Chairman of the Republican National Convention in 1916 he delivered the keynote speech, and the impression he made throughout the proceedings was a positive one. He is of distinguished appearance, and a charm of personality is one of his assets.
But so far as distinct leadership is concerned he has yet to win it; he appears to be a man who advances steadily to a purpose without haste and with reserve force for the greater occasion. It has been made apparent that he is to take a more prominent part in the Senate.
In a recent speech he sharply criticised [sic] the President for not having devoted himself immediately on his arrival in Europe to bringing about a speedy peace, and also for not having given more attention to pressing reconstruction problems in this country. Practical things here at home, the Senator said, were being neglected while the dreams of idealism were being chased abroad.
Harding would indeed go on to win both the nomination and the presidency the following year.
In the past decade, of course, neither of our two presidents were the frontrunners for their party nomination prior to announcing. In fact, the top five Republican candidates at this point in the election cycle last time around were Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, and Scott Walker — none of whom even ultimately finished in the top four:
ROOSEVELT’S SUCCESSOR: Who Will Be Republican Leader and Candidate for Presidency in 1920? — Outlook Two Years in Advance.
Published: Sunday, February 2, 1919