The 2015 invisible primary is well under way following the announcement by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush that he intends to 'explore' a run for the presidency. Bush's announcement caught some of the potential GOP candidates off guard and potentially provided the governor with a head start over his rivals. This set off a scramble among other potential candidates to hire talented individuals who could help them raise money and test the waters. Shortly after Bush jumped into the race Mike Huckabee walked away from a lucrative deal at Fox News to explore a possible candidacy. Others in the GOP all but certain to run include Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, and Rick Santorum. Rumors of another run by Mitt Romney are sort of like the stories regarding the exaggeration of the death of Mark Twain. It makes for good political fodder but it just makes no sense at all. His time came and went and the party has moved on.
The challenge for each of the potential candidates is to figure out where their political support is most likely to come from and lock up that support over the next 11 months. Political Scientist Jason McDaniel does an excellent job laying out the case for one of these candidates, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, in his latest post at Mischiefs of Faction. McDaniel also created the following Venn Diagram to show the political space occupied by each of the potential candidates for the GOP, which is another way of saying where each is most likely to find the greatest level of support. If a candidate appears in more than one of the circles, he likely has appeal to two or more factions within the GOP, thus making him more 'viable' to party elites and important donors. Candidates who appear in only one circle have limited appeal outside their own circle and will likely struggle to win the nomination. This isn't to say they cannot win it, just that it is highly unlikely because such a candidate will have a hard time raising the kind of financial support necessary to make a serious run at the nomination. In 2012 we saw this happen to candidates such as Herman Cain, Rick Perry, and Tim Pawlenty. I would go so far as to argue that even Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich were not truly viable candidates in 2012, though they got to hang around due to the support each received from a wealthy donor.