All the attention of late in national 2016 presidential election attention has been on New Jersey Governor Chris christie and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, especially their war of words over foreign policy, Superstorm Sandy and 9/11. The media loves a good political brawl, and they're getting it with two guys not afraid to mince words. Will Christie and his perceived northeastern "moderation" (and, thus, nationwide general election appeal) win out, or will Paul representing the neo-libertarian Tea Party wing of the GOP -- a hugely-influential wing -- come out on top? Hey, only 3 years remain until the GOP convention, so let's decide now!
OK, then, here's your answer: Neither one will be on the 2016 Repblican ticket. Scott Walker will.
Governor Walker is flying under the national political radar, for the most part anyway. He's flying to influential primary/caucus states and places where important GOP players are located -- Iowa, in particular. From my readings, those on the ground in the Hawkeye State say Walker has a strong appeal to the GOP caucus base in the state, and that appeal can easily be translated nationwide with Republicans. He's conservative, but most-notably on fiscal issues, so he avoids issues with social moderation in New Hampshire or strong social conservatism in the south. Republicans adore how he took on unions in Wisconsin and won -- this has been a goal of many conservatives for years, and Walker got results. He's a governor (not a Washington politician) who survived a recall and now seems a shoe-in for re-election in a lean-blue state from the swing area of the Upper Midwest, he's young and isn't prone to hyperbole or controversial quotes. Really, if you're a Republican, what's NOT to like?
Scott Walker may well win the Iowa caucus. Of course, Iowa caucus winners tend not to win the general election, but with the aforementioned attributes and the likely field of candidates, that kind of victory -- especially considering how Walker might fly under the radar right up to Iowa and thus get a shot of momentum and attention in the wake of Iowa -- could get him in excellent shape for the nomination. At the very least, these traits might guarantee him a VP slot; the only factor holding him back could be those that don't want the Veep nod going to someone from the same state two elections in a row, but if that's the strongest anti-Walker argument in the GOP, you know he's in good position to be on the ticket.
The reality is Scott Walker is too conservative to win a general election. What makes him so appealing to conservatives also makes him one of the few Republican that can energize liberals *after* eight years of having one of their own in the White house, and his actions on unions, abortion and the environment are too far for the mainstream. Unless the Democrats implode and nominate an obscure liberal U.S. House member, their likely candidates like Hillary Clinton, Andrew Cuomo or Martin O'Malley would all defeat Walker -- Clinton especially so. Hillary Clinton will win the presidency if she runs -- the dynamics are set up too well for that not to happen.
Place your bet: Scott Walker will be on the GOP ticket, very possible as the nominee. He might find himself in October, 2016, sharing three debate stages with Hillary Clinton. And, one month later, he'll be pondering how to oust her from the Presidency after four more years.