Photo dated; then-presidential hopeful Barry Goldwater and his running mate William Miller accept the Republican Party nomination in San Francisco July 17, 1964.
Photo dated; then-presidential hopeful Barry Goldwater and his running mate William Miller accept the Republican Party nomination in San Francisco July 17, 1964. - 
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With Ohio Governor John Kasich today entering the race for the GOP presidential nomination, the total number of major contenders has risen to 16. There are also five major candidates on the Democratic side.

A lot of them are long shots, whether due to lack of name recognition, lack of financial support, or low numbers in the polls.

But long-shot candidates have a reason to be optimistic. For one, sometimes they win. "Our current president being an example of one, where somebody comes out of nowhere," says Lance Strate, professor of communication and media studies at Fordham University.

The reason for so many long-shot candidates in this election cycle is that campaigns are getting better at organizing online and through social media, Strate says. "A political campaign can get started with a relatively small amount of resources to begin with, and then take off," he says.

Even if candidates don't win, or even get their party's nomination, they can still benefit by improving their name recognition, says Larry Sabato, who heads the University of Virginia's Center for Politics. "You can increase speaking fees. You may very well be offered a TV or radio contract," he says.