At this time, objectively speaking, my feeling is that Scott Walker is the most likely 2016 Republican presidential nominee for the following reasons. (My disclaimer – I no way support Walker or the Republican Party. This is just my thoughts from an analytical perspective).
1.) He’s a governor whose state has been both ground zero and a petri dish for all the most extreme conservative ideas in governance to be acted upon most notably anti-union and anti-teacher legislation. This will pump up the base like none of the other candidates. Also a governor traditionally has been viewed as better preparation for the presidency.
2.) He’s a bit of blank slate on foreign policy and immigration but that is coming. He touches the many different wings of the Republican Party (financial, social issues, etc.) in a way that only Ted Cruz does of other potential candidates (And I personally think it’s likely Cruz won’t run)
3.) Despite his hard right position on issues, his public persona is of a bloodless technocrat. The image in many people’s minds of the Republican Party as a group of crazed lunatics has so far been contradicted by his mild mannered persona. It will be hard for the Democrats to present him in this way.
4.) He is apparently the most popular candidate of two of the main Republican donors – The Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson. Money is everything in politics in the USA.
5.) Democratc overconfidence – In addition to the self-created feeling of the inevitability of Hillary Clinton (topic of another post – She’s far from inevitable even as the nominee), I’ve noticed from reading different political websites that Walker is being mocked for his lack of a college degree. That’s a dangerous and elitist path for the Dems. Many Americans have been unable to complete their degree due to the rising cost of education. Not having a college degree is in no way an indicator of intelligence and ability while many lawmakers of both parties are lawyers – Still a hated profession among the general public. Also none of the various scandals that have been looked into around Walker (most noticeably campaign finance violations) have panned out. None of them were sexy enough unfortunately to warrant further investigation or prosecution despite the presence of (in the campaign finance case) of e-mails that implicated Walker by himself.
In general, the Democratic strategy of besting Walker so far has consisted of campaign finance accusations, Koch Brothers linkage, and not having a college degree –Pretty weak. Dems underestimate Walker at their own peril.
We’ve still got a long way to go with many candidate debates to come. Walker, however, sums up the Republican party now in terms of what he wants to do better than anybody else at the moment. If you want to see how a Republican president would govern in conjunction with a Republican house and senate, take a look at the career of Scott Walker.