3. Scott Walker: Walker would be ranked even higher if he didn’t have to win a second term this November in a race in which Democrats, who recruited a wealthy businesswoman to run, plan to make a major effort. Walker is already a hero to conservatives nationally because of his fight with public employee unions earlier this decade, and he also happens to come from a state that shares a border with Iowa.
2. Rand Paul: The senator from Kentucky appears to have survived a rough patch over plagiarism allegations in his speeches and is now back to doing what he does best: channeling the growing libertarian sentiment in the country. Paul has emerged as a leading voice opposed to the Obama administration’s National Security Agency, and that perch will put him squarely in the national spotlight this week when the president addresses the NSA controversies.
1. Chris Christie: How quickly can Christie move beyond Bridge-gate? How much of a hit does he take among the donor class? How soon until other 2016-ers jump on the criticism train? There are more questions than answers for Christie at the moment. But everyone ranked below him on this list has questions of his own. And Christie remains the most naturally talented candidate in Republican politics.