Frank Rich writing at the New York Magazine delivers a hugely negative "state of the party" jeremiad about the GOP's post election blues. His remedy is basically for the Republicans to forget about any cosmetic/media spinmeister tactics and just roll with the punches until the wheel of history turns.
I wrote about Rich's prescription (which I agree with) HERE and agreed that keeping the faith will be rewarded as, as he pointed out, worked for Reagan after the Goldwater defeat.
But who to choose as the flag bearer whilst the true conservative heart beats slowly? The remarks Rich made about the core leadership, where he drew on Nate Silver's work at the New York Times, is instructive.
"All these views are consistent with the actual political leadership of the GOP, as opposed to the more centrist standard-bearers conservative Beltway pundits fantasize about in their dreams. In a recent bout of algorithm-crunching, Nate Silver drew on detailed compilations of congressional voting records, fund-raising sources, and public issue statements to assign conservative “scores” to major Republican politicians of the past half-century.
The scores for the new generation of national leaders (and potential presidential candidates) favored by the party’s base were all high—Jindal (44), Rubio (51), McDonnell (53), Cruz (53), Paul Ryan (55), Rand Paul (65)—placing almost all of them to the right of such leaders as Richard Nixon (22), George H.W. Bush (33), McCain (39), Romney (39), Palin (41), Reagan (44), and George W. Bush (46). Chris Christie (9) and Jon Huntsman (17) may be beloved by what remains of “moderate” Republicans, but they’re the ones who are off-message with the majority of the GOP, not Rubio or McDonnell or Ryan or Paul."
If the need is for the 2016 GOP candidate to be a true conservative, but also to have enough centrist appeal not to be a Goldwater, we can judge, if Silver's work is the guide, that Sarah Palin, with a score of 41 is the closest to Reagan's 44 score.
As a running mate with the highest conservative score it appears that Rand Paul at 65 would be the choice. Paul would also not have to "learn conservatism on the job" to paraphrase Palin's comment as he clearly is a solid conservative according to these rankings. Paul might also bring in the libertarian vote whilst not being a Goldwater as far as the general public is concerned.
Nate Silver's chart plus his full article is available at the link above. Frank Rich's article is HERE