“It is clear to me she is kicking the tires,” said Jim Merrill, a GOP strategist in New Hampshire who served as a top adviser to Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign.

The former CEO of Hewlett-Packard has a slim electoral office record, amounting to the failed bid for California’s Senate seat in 2010 — a race she lost to Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer by 10 percentage points. She also served in positions on Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign and Mr. Romney’s 2012 campaign.

But analysts said her business experience could make her a serious contender despite the relatively thin political resume. She would also stand out in what is now an all-male GOP field.

“If she is the only woman in the race, I think that is going to give her some advantage, some strength there,” said Will Rogers, chairman of the Polk County Iowa GOP. “I think people also are going to look to her as a business leader, and there is a number of people in the Republican base that like that.”