1. Marco Rubio–Exactly right for the one seed. It’s the rare politician who awakens within even casual observers near-universal recognition that he’s cut from presidential timber.
Does Cillizza’s ranking of Rubio as the leading 2016 Republican presidential candidate actually make sense? I have to admit that I’m a confirmed Rubio skeptic at this point. I don’t deny that he has political talent, and he seems to inspire quite a lot of enthusiasm among movement conservatives, but I just don’t see why he is so often promoted to the top of these lists. I can’t recall any new Senator receiving so much admiration and praise as a presidential or VP prospect so early in his career, and that includes Obama. Assuming Romney loses, is Rubio a possible 2016 candidate? Sure. Is he the GOP’s #1 leading presidential candidate for the next election if Romney doesn’t win? No, he’s not. That’s particularly true if he were (mistakenly) selected as the VP nominee this time, but I think this assessment holds up even if Rubio is not picked as Romney’s running mate.
By 2016, Martinez and Jindal will be far better-qualified than Rubio, and assuming that she wins re-election in 2014 Martinez would arguably be one of the three or four strongest 2016 contenders available. She was an effective campaigner in 2010, and she took apart her main political competition in the Republican primary debates. Martinez actually has some of the electoral advantages that many people imagine that Rubio has. Jindal will have two full terms behind him by then, and enough time will have passed since his unfortunate State of the Union response that voters will be able to form new judgments about him that don’t involve comparisons to sitcom characters. Ranking Martinez and Jindal at seventh and fifth respectively seems wrong. McDonnell and Christie are overrated in Cillizza’s system, and Portman is too low.