I’m reasonably sure one of the big political stories of the 2016 presidential cycle is going to be an effort by movement conservative opinion-leaders to unite early around a candidate of their very own. If it fails, these folks will have to be resigned to pull off the same impressive stunt they performed in the last two cycles: encumbering the eventual nominee with litmus tests, specific policy commitments, and even running mates that inhibited any “move to the center” before or after election day.

Over at TPMCafe, I run through the possibilities for a “unity candidate” of the Right, and conclude it’s not going to be easy, particularly if the Iowa Caucuses are supposed to execute the consolidation of conservative support. At the moment there are quite a few potential candidates with important ties to Iowa, and who will be difficult to keep out of the field before then because Iowa’s their one big shot.

If you hate this sort of very early horse-race analysis, you can certainly give the column a pass, but presidential campaign politics really is 24/7/365 in places like Iowa, and it ultimately matters.

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Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.