Whatever the outcome of the mid-terms, the House of Representatives is preparing to elect a new House speaker. This comes as the current Speaker, Paul Ryan, announced his forthcoming retirement in April after a distinguished career. The upcoming elections are likely to be something of a referendum on the U.S. president. As such, it's an open question as to which party would control the House following the election. If the Republicans win, they quickly have to fill the leadership void.

In theory, the Democrats already have a leader in place, one who has been House speaker before.

However, Nancy Pelosi, the current minority leader, might not get the chance to reclaim her former position. Pelosi is one of the most polarizing political figures of the country's recent history, and this includes in her own party. Should her members revolt against her, it was thought they would most likely turn to Patrick Crowley. But then Crowley was defeated in a primary in one of the biggest upsets in modern American politics. As a result, the race for House speaker is even more wide open with room for more possible candidates.

Jim Clyburn (D)

Clyburn is the third-most powerful Democrat in the House. A former high school teacher, he represented South Carolina's 6th District since 1993. Clyburn would be the first African-American speaker of the house.

It's been suggested that he could help Democrats make inroads in the South. However, he is approaching 80 years old and has been in Congress for a quarter-century. Recently, many Democrats have been looking for new faces in leadership roles. His age and 'establishment' credentials could be two of the possible strikes against him.

Steny Hoyer (D)

A former president of the Maryland State Senate, Hoyer joined the House in the early 1980s. He eventually became the majority leader for four years. Since then, he has been the minority whip after the Democrats were voted out of power. He is second in line following Pelosi and he has many friends on Capitol Hill.

But the issues facing him include similar ones as Clyburn, and Hoyer also comes from a coast state. Some Democrats might be looking for candidates from other areas of the country.

Jim Jordan (R)

Jordan was a two-time national champion for the highly-successful wrestling program of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After serving in both houses of the Ohio General Assembly, he joined the U.S. House of Representatives in 2007. A prominent voice from the conservative wing of the Republican Party, he co-founded the Freedom Caucus in 2015. Jordan was the first to make his candidacy for speaker of the house official after Ryan's retirement was announced. Many people have speculated that somebody more moderate has better chances of winning, and he faces other issues.

Among them are reports stemming from Jordan's time as an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University. Several allegations emerged of abuse and misconduct by the head coach at the time, Richard Strauss. Some people accused Jordan of knowing about Strauss' behavior and not taking action against him.

Kevin McCarthy (R)

After serving as minority leader of the California State Assembly, McCarthy was elected to Congress in 2006. He rose rapidly through the ranks, becoming majority whip in 2011. Following the Crowley-esque upset of Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a 2014 primary, McCarthy ascended to replace him. After Speaker John Boehner announced his retirement the following year, McCarthy was all but a lock to succeed him.

However, following a gaffe-laden interview with Sean Hannity, he withdrew and Paul Ryan ultimately took over the speakership. The Hill reports that McCarthy openly wants the job and Paul Ryan has endorsed him for it. Possible strikes against him include some believing him to be too moderate.

Tim Ryan (D)

Tim Ryan briefly served in the Ohio Senate before joining the U.S. House in 2003. A prominent moderate, Ryan launched an unsuccessful insurgent campaign against Pelosi for minority leader in 2016. Should he try again, he has some factors in his favor. These include his relative youth and his coming from the Midwest. But as per The Wall Street Journal, Ryan's problems include his recent change of stances on major issues.

Steve Scalise (R)

Having been a member of both houses of the Louisiana State Legislature, Scalise was elected to Congress in 2008. He would eventually take over from Kevin McCarthy as majority whip. In 2017, he received national attention as the victim of an attack by a left-wing activist. Possible problems facing him include the controversy surrounding a speech he made in 2002. During the speech, he appeared in front of a white supremacist organization founded by David Duke. Scalise has since apologized for it and claimed he was unaware of the group's racist nature.