If you've ever wondered what pollsters and numbers crunchers do when we've just finished an election and before we head into an other election cycle, get a load of this new work from Nate Silver at fivethirtyeight.com. In attempting to answer the question of whether or not Jeb Bush is conservative enough to win the Republican nomination (I say he is; but I'm not supporting him), Silver has put together a chart ranking most of the current candidates (and he includes the legendary conservative Barry Goldwater, perhaps as a benchmark).
Silver ranks Rand Paul (yes, he's my candidate) as the most conservative based on four criteria. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is second most conservative among potential candidates; coincidentally (or maybe not), Walker is my second choice for President.
I've lost all respect for Florida Senator Marco Rubio with his muddled Cuba positon, but that's another story. Suffice it to say I agree with Obama and Paul and the vast majority of the American people (49-28 percent in a new Rasmussen Poll) on normalizing Cuban relations. Rubio actually defends himself by saying he doesn't care if everyone disagrees with him, a sure sign of a politician doomed to failure--and rightly so.
Chris Christie is the least conservative, and Richard Nixon rates as the third least conservative (no surprise, at least not to me). Silver gives Jeb Bush a score of 37 (in the Dole/McCain/Romney range and very close to the average for a Republican Congressman last year); father George H.W. Bush gets a more liberal score of 33; brother George W. Bush gets a more conservative score of 46.
For what it's worth (and it really is kind of fun during these poll-less days), here's the Silver chart.