By Chris Cillizza
The Washington Post
The 2012 election is behind us. Let the 2016 speculation begin!
With President Barack Obama’s victory, 2016 will be a race without an incumbent president and, depending on what Vice President Joe Biden does (more on that below), we could be looking at a race as wide open as 2008 for both parties.
Here are the five most likely — and strongest — contenders for the Democratic and Republican nominations. They are listed in no particular order.
CHRIS CHRISTIE: The idea circulating in some conservative circles that the New Jersey governor’s kind treatment of President Obama in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy somehow led to Mitt Romney’s loss is preposterous. If Christie can win reelection next year — and that’s a big “if,” given the possibility that Newark’s Democratic mayor and Twitter superhero Cory Booker might run — he has a strong case to make for the GOP nomination.
JEB BUSH/MARCO RUBIO: It’s hard to see both Florida Republicans running in 2016, since Bush has long been a political mentor to Rubio. Bush probably has the right of first refusal in the race, but our guess is he stays away and plays a leading role in helping Rubio. Rubio has a real opportunity to try to lead his party to its next stage by pushing for a reassessment of the GOP’s relationship, or lack thereof, with Hispanics.
BOBBY JINDAL: The Louisiana governor seems all but certain to make a bid for the presidency in 2016, and he’s got a strong argument in his favor. He’s Indian American, he’s compiled a decidedly conservative record as governor of the Bayou State, and he’s among the wonkiest members of his party.
PAUL RYAN: Ryan acquitted himself well in his brief time on the national ticket and in so doing raised his profile with donors and activists within the GOP. His announcement that he would return to the House in 2013 to chair the Budget Committee suggests that Ryan will spend the next two years or so burnishing his reputation as the “ideas guy” within the GOP and, perhaps, as the most high-profile foil to President Obama and his policies.