The already publicly announced 'serious' viable contenders for the 2016 Republican Presidential Nomination (that is, those who have at least the proverbial "puncher's chance" to even be so nominated) are- at least as of this typing- as follows (in alphabetical order):
- former Governor John Ellis [Jeb] BUSH of Florida
- Neurosurgeon Benjamin S. [Ben] CARSON, Sr.
- Governor Christopher J. [Chris] CHRISTIE of New Jersey
- Senator Rafael Edward [Ted] CRUZ of Texas
- Businesswoman Carly FIORINA
- Senator Lindsey O. GRAHAM of South Carolina
- former Governor Michael D. [Mike] HUCKABEE of Arkansas
- Governor Piyush [Bobby] JINDAL of Louisiana
- former Governor George E. PATAKI of New York
- Senator Rand PAUL of Kentucky
- former Governor James Richard [Rick] PERRY of Texas
- Senator Marco RUBIO of Florida
- former Senator Richard J. [Rick] SANTORUM of Pennsylvania
- Business magnate Donald J. TRUMP, Sr.
To the above list will soon be added Wisconsin Governor Scott K. WALKER and Ohio Governor John R. KASICH (here in order of their expected formal announcements later on this month). In addition, there may well also be at least one or two (or even more!) 'serious' contenders for the next GOP presidential nomination to come, even after those two have publicly thrown their respective- as well as proverbial- "hats into the ring".
All in all, then, there will be close to-if not even as many as- a dozen and a half such viable Republican presidential contenders all told (the largest field of such candidates formally/officially running for a Major Party presidential nomination since the modern "marathon"-style 'run in as many Primaries as possible' campaign for such nominations first emerged during the 1970s!)
So what is most likely to, thereafter, happen to such a large field containing so many GOP presidential nomination dreams?
First off, there will almost certainly be at least a couple to more than a few "casualties" even before the Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire Primary early next year. This will primarily be because, despite the vast sum of money that has been- and will continue to be- raised within all these campaigns put together, there is still only so much campaign cash to "go around": donors who gave to some of the earliest-announcing GOP presidential contenders may well be (soon, if not already) reconsidering giving more money to those same contenders as new contenders have now 'come on board': thus, there will be more than a few arms around a candidate's shoulder and all too many "I'm sorry, son, but I now like so-and-so over there as a possible President much better now"s which, in turn, may well come to signal the death knell of the dreams of at least some presidential contenders whose prospects looked even remotely sunnier back when they first let it publicly be known they were actually running some time before.
Then there are the intraParty televised debates, the first of which- for the Republicans- is currently scheduled for Thursday 6 August on FOX. Because of the large field of GOP contenders, there will likely be much more interest in this first chance for the leading candidates (FOX is, at this typing, still hoping to restrict the participants in this debate to the top 10 Republican contenders in the polls) to face off against each other and, thereby, try and separate themselves from the "crowd" than there otherwise might be.
But somebody amongst those "lucky" enough to be a participant in that first debate will, almost certainly, make a noteworthy mistake, if not a major gaffe (one that will thereafter be seen over and over on the late local news throughout the country [not to also mention Jon Stewart's last appearance on Comedy Central's The Daily Show late that same evening-- let alone its also going viral on YouTube, with links to same posted to untold multitudes of Facebook pages and/or Twitter accounts]); somebody's campaign will spend much of the following morning "clarifying" its candidate's untoward or unthinking (where not even also unthinkable!) remarks from the night before; somebody will be making the rounds of nationally televised morning news and information shows (both over-the-air and on cable) repeating, over and over again, a variant of 'Mea culpa. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa'.
Simply put: come Friday 7 August, one or more of the "survivor"s who will have made it onto FOX's soundstage the night before will- truly- be "envying the dead" (the "dead" here being the several GOP contenders who- because of national polling numbers that were too low hitherto- will have been left out of that first debate). But some of these "dead" will, thereafter, be "dead" no more: for, among at least some who had not at all made the 'cut' for that first GOP debate, having not made said 'cut' will have proved to be the proverbial "blessing in disguise" and their campaigns will begin to rise in the polls as those of others- likely because of what had taken place during that first debate- will, conversely, start to fall!
Yet, although one or more of those who didn't make that 'cut' will now likely make the 'cut' for the next televised debate between Republican presidential contenders (currently scheduled for Wednesday 16 September on CNN), that which I have written in the previous two paragraphs of this piece will only get a chance to then play itself out anew. The long-ago voice of former Democratic Oklahoma Senator Fred Harris (who himself ran [twice!] unsuccessfully for his Party's presidential nomination in the 1970s as the currently-in-vogue "marathon"-style pre-National Convention campaign first emerged) will be plaintively heard in the ever-increasing distance caused by Time itself once again declaiming that "the winnowing out process has now begun!"-- except that, given such a large field of 'serious' Republican presidential contenders, somebody- maybe more than one "somebody", actually- will, even before we all raise our glasses of champagne to the next New Year, not be "winnowed in"!
Therefore, by the time the Iowa Caucuses are held, there will- at most- only be a little over a dozen viable Republican presidential contenders left seriously challenging each other for that Party's presidential nomination (if we here- still so early in the nomination process- continue to include those with but an outside chance of winning that nomination). Only then will the real battle be joined...
... although it will, in reality, be "the battle within the battle"- as, not only will the surviving GOP contenders be trying to garner as much support as possible from each of the precincts across the length and breadth of the Hawkeye State, they will also be battling (within smaller groups of said contenders) for leadership of the various factions/wings within today's Republican Party (a battle that will continue on through the earliest Primaries- in New Hampshire and South Carolina). Answers to these questions- Who will emerge as the Establishment candidate (the candidate whom supporters will hail as "the electable conservative" but of whom, on the other hand, detractors will deem "too moderate"- or even a "R I N O" [Republican In Name Only])? Who will emerge as the candidate of most sociocultural and/or religious conservatives? Who will emerge as the candidate of the bulk of the so-called 'Tea Party' movement and its populist allies? To which presidential contender will the libertarians in the GOP turn? Will a presidential contender or more be able to reach out to more than his/her own supporting faction?- will only truly begin to be seen as we go through next February (assuming, of course, that the current schedule of early Caucuses and Primaries holds).
The results of the precinct caucuses in Iowa will- most certainly- knock out quite a few contenders who will have managed to keep their campaigns going past New Year's Day; the returns coming out of New Hampshire will take out more than a few more; the Presidential Primary in South Carolina and Caucuses in Nevada will, thereafter, produce their own "casualties" ("I'm sorry, son..." and all that, repeated yet once again).
By the time, then, of the first 'Super Tuesday' of Presidential Primaries and Caucuses- Tuesday 1 March 2016- the original, viable, 'serious' dozen and a half GOP presidential contenders of this calendar year will have already been whittled down to but a mere handful or so-- three, perhaps even four? Maybe even as many as five? Six at the utmost, certainly! And it will be from among these that the eventual 2016 Republican presidential nominee will come: it will be from among these that the voters in all subsequent Primaries and Caucuses over the next little more than three months will have to make their own selections as to whom they would like to see as the Grand Old Party's candidate for President of the United States going into the General Election in early November 2016...
that is: unless a clear Front Runner for the Republican nomination has already, and so clearly, emerged during the course of next February... if not, however, then please fasten your seatbelts! You have been warned.