Well, numbers and a little guessing. At this point, with the Republican field so wide open, any guess is as good as the next. The Washington Post put together a top ten list ranking candidates in their likelyhood of becoming the nominee.
Here’s the order the Post calculates from 10 (least likely) to 1 (most likely):
10. Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.)
9. Former governor Mike Huckabee (Ark.)
8. Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.)
7. Gov. Bobby Jindal (La.)
6. Gov. John Kasich (Ohio)
5. Gov. Scott Walker (Wis.)
4. Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.)
3. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush
2. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
1. Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.)
A little of the reasoning behind the top three:
3. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush. Bush offered some interesting comments last week, saying Republicans need candidates who are willing to “lose the primary to win the general, without violating your principles.” That’s a nice sentiment, and few embody that approach better than Bush. But there’s a reason politicians pander: because they don’t like to alienate people whose votes (and money) they need. If Bush does run in the primary as an unapologetic supporter of comprehensive immigration reform and Common Core, we’ll see whether GOP voters reward his electability argument. Count us skeptical.
2. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Few people emerged from November’s election happier than Christie. As the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, it was looking like a tough year — even up to Election Day. But the RGA beat expectations, holding 31 of the nation’s 50 governorships. And, on Friday, Christie got even more good news when a Democratic-led investigation into Bridgegate showed no evidence that he knew about the apparently politically motivated lane closures on the George Washington Bridge.
1. Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.). People used to roll their eyes when we said Paul had a real chance to be the Republican nominee in 2016. Not anymore. Paul has a unique activist and fundraising base, thanks to his father’s two runs for president, and has shown considerable savvy in his outreach to the establishment end of the party over the past few years. Paul still says odd things — his blaming of high cigarette taxes for Eric Garner’s chokehold death at the hands of New York City police being the latest — that would get him in trouble in the heat of a presidential race. But he is the candidate furthest along in the planning process for president and the one with the most strength in early states such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
I would bump Scott Walker up to number 2 or 3 versus Bush or Christie. I also think Rubio is a bit too high, especially depending on whether he’s able to elbow out some space around Jeb Bush.