Larison imagines the 2016 Republican primaries:
As frustrated by a Romney loss as Republicans would be, the party will have an incentive to find a more credible and competitive candidate for the next presidential election. That means that the 2012 also-rans might run again, but they aren’t going to get very far.
A party that hasn’t controlled the Presidency for eight years isn’t going to gamble its future on Rick Santorum or anyone else like that. Party leaders will want to find a well-known and well-connected candidate that can dominate the next presidential field without much difficulty. A drawn-out nominating contest is the last thing they will want, and they’ll try to find someone with the financial backing and name recognition to become the presumptive nominee quickly. It is doubtful that party leaders would rally behind a relatively young and untested candidate, which would probably make Rubio, Christie, and others first elected in 2009 or 2010 unlikely nominees.