While we pretend there's a guessing game about who might run for president in 2016, the reality is that most of the people who "might" be running are actually running, and the only way they'll surprise us in two years is if they opt out. "Will she run or won't she?" Politico asks of Hillary Clinton Thursday. She will! She has a staff, a website, a super PAC. She's giving a bunch of speeches about the importance of female leadership in the world. She's running! And so are the pack of 40-something Republican senators setting themselves up as statesmenish principled compromisers who just so happen to tour early primary states. Here's our ranking of the candidates from most likely to run to least, with The Atlantic Wire's new 2016 Conventional Wisdom Meter.
Public Appearances: Forget the book deal. Clinton endorsed gay marriage at the exact moment to maximize attention. On Tuesday, Clinton gave a big speech about empowering women at the Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards. On Friday, she's giving another big speech — the headliner at Tina Brown's Women in The World conference. Perhaps Clinton will discuss the how we need more women's voices leading the world. A very important message for the potential first female president of the United States!
Global Tours: Unlike her likely Republican rivals, Clinton has pretty solid cred in this area already, having been secretary of state and all. Politico suggests she could take a position on intervention in Syria, though that risks alienating some Democrats.
Campaign Infrastructure: Clinton has a staff of six people in Washington. She has a fancy new website. She has a super PAC called Ready for Hillary. Her husband's old strategist James Carville has just signed up to work for it.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul
Public Appearances: Paul will give the keynote address at the New Hampshire Republican Party's first Liberty Dinner on May 20. That's a week and a half after Paul speaks in Iowa at the Faith and Freedom Coalition's spring meeting. New Hampshire and Iowa are the first states to vote in the presidential primary. Based on the basic information about these speeches, he will talk about libertarian things in libertarian New Hampshire and social issues in socially conservative Iowa. Paul has openly said he's considering running for president.
Global Tours: In January, Paul did the tour of the Middle East required of all serious people running for president. Business Insider snapped the critical photos of Paul meeting with Israeli leaders like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Naftali Bennett.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio
Public Appearances: Rubio visited Iowa right after the 2012 election. His speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in March was about finding new kinder and gentler ways to sell the conservative economic message to struggling middle class people. He has presented himself as a visionary on immigration while maintaining his conservative boa fides by doing stuff like threatening to filibuster gun control.
Global Tours: Rubio did his tour of the Middle East in February, visiting Israel and Jordan and smartly getting many more photos of himself looking statesmanly. He met with Jordan's King Abdullah, Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz
Public Appearances: Cruz will give the keynote address at the South Carolina GOP's Silver Elephant Dinner on May 3. (South Carolina is another early voting state in the primaries.) The freshman senator has done a lot of stuff to get attention from conservatives. He joined in Rand Paul's filibuster last month when it was getting lots of coverage on cable news. He asked tough questions on Benghazi, drones, and gun control at various Senate hearings. Sarah Palin likes him.
Campaign Infrastructure: Cruz was well-supported by conservative super PACs when he ran for Senate last year.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush
Public Appearances: Bush went on a publicity tour after publishing his immigration book last month. Bush's goal was probably to project himself as a leader on immigration reform, but he miscalculated, and his proposals were to the right of Rubio and many other Republicans.
Global Tours: Bush has not recently gone on a Middle East tour.
Campaign Infrastructure: Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education, based in Tallahassee, is seen as a campaign team in waiting. The staff is packed with former political operatives.