The Establishment clearly has decided who is "next in line," the favored argument for Republican power-brokers on who they give the nomination to. That's right, "give" the nomination to. How else would you figure all those better candidates sitting out 2012?
I'm never going to be fooled again that anyone named Bush is a true conservative. Fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice . . . still shame on me. Jeb puts a lot of big names out of play. Marco Rubio is a protege of Bush's in Florida, so this would likely mean he is out. Bobby Jindal might be ambitious, but he's also a team player and served in W's administration, so he's likely out as well. Rick Santorum has clearly caught the bug, unaware that 2012 was one of the weakest Republican fields in history, and his argument that Reagan won 11 states like he did in 1976 is insulting to anyone's intelligence. But he will serve as a voice for many of the ardent social conservatives who resist a more libertarian approach to conservatism.
To some it might be too early to talk about this, but I'm guessing the powers in the paty are already greasing the skids for 2016 already for Jeb Bush. Why else would we hear about the Iowa Straw Poll being done away with? I know its largely meaningless, but it allows a conservative who doesn't have the party machinery behind them make some noise and get a look.
Sadly, its never too late to start looking at this. While many of my liberty minded friends at concentrating on Rand Paul, I'm very interested in what Texas Sen. Ted Cruz does in the next few years.