But the two most conservative candidates running for federal office both won: Jeff Flake and Ted Cruz. Over six terms in the House, Flake racked up an American Conservative Union score of 96.73. Along with Ron Paul, Flake typically topped the scorecard of the National Taxpayers Union. He also regularly posted 100 percent scores from National Right to Life.

Flake is not only roundly conservative, he has no qualms about defying Republican mandarins. He was comfortable in tiny minorities opposing popular measures. He also was the founding father of the House “Anti-Appropriators,” a tiny caucus of Appropriations Committee members who repeatedly voted on the floor against their leadership and who used their committee perch not to bring home pork, but to try to reduce spending…

Conservatives can also be thankful that the 2016 Republican presidential field might be very strong. Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Rand Paul, Susana Martinez, Paul Ryan, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Mitch Daniels, Rob Portman, Bob McDonnell, Nikki Haley — not all of them will run, but some of them will. The prospective field sure looks better than Romney, Santorum, Gingrich and Huntsman.

Jindal has a solid conservative record as governor. Walker is battle-tested and clearly willing to stand up to special interests. Rand Paul is showing political carefulness his father has lacked. And maybe by 2016, the name “Bush” will no longer be an albatross for Jeb.