The 2016 'Invisible Primary' — Made Visible

Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana speaks to the National Rifle Association in Houston in May. Could he really be a surprise contender in the Invisible Primary? i i

Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana speaks to the National Rifle Association in Houston in May. Could he really be a surprise contender in the Invisible Primary? Justin Sullivan/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana speaks to the National Rifle Association in Houston in May. Could he really be a surprise contender in the Invisible Primary?

Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana speaks to the National Rifle Association in Houston in May. Could he really be a surprise contender in the Invisible Primary?

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The hotly contested 2012 presidential election hasn't cooled off yet and Donald Trump has already made a pilgrimage to Iowa. Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., are asking people to choose between them. Former Alaska Gov. and Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is pulling for Paul. The Ready for Hillary political action committee is in full gear, and New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd and others are not so tongue-in-cheekily referring to former Secretary of State Clinton as "Madam President."

While much of America is sleeping — politically speaking — campaigns are frantically forming for the 2016 election. Some observers call it the Invisible Primary — that period before voters get fully engaged.

You can get a sense of the candidates jockeying for attention at some national sites, such as It's All Politics, Politico, The Fix and The Caucus.

We asked a trio of our colleagues who follow the ambitious antics of presidential aspirants — Liz Halloran, Charles Mahtesian and Ari Shapiro — to give us some other websites that might help us draw back the curtains. Here are four sites they cited:

1) Iowa Politics — Iowa-centric blog from The Des Moines Register

2) Political Scoop — from the mind of WMUR's political director

3) The Run 2016 — the observations of reporter David Catanese

4) Frontloading HQ — for the serious political junkie

And will there be any surprise candidates? Probably not, says Alison Dagnes, who teaches political science at Shippensburg University and contributes to a blog dedicated to the Invisible Primary. "But there are a few lesser-knowns or quiet candidates."

On the Democratic side, she says, Gov. Martin O'Malley of Maryland "is doing everything to indicate a run, from going on a trip to Iowa to going on a trip to Israel."

Over on the Republican side, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana "seems to be ginning up his resume in the hopes everyone has forgotten his awful post-State of the Union response from 2009. He's had a steady national media presence since the day after Election Day 2012 and has been trying to appeal to mainstream Republicans. "

But, she cautions, "I have to double back to the 'few surprises,' though, because as [former Minnesota Gov.] Tim Pawlenty can tell you, name recognition matters so, so much. Christie and Hillary may have the Invisible Primary spotlight now, but there's still time for them to trip and fall."

And, adds Ron Elving, senior Washington editor at NPR News, "I'd put [Wisconsin Gov.] Scott Walker on the list of actual contenders. He's far more likely to make a splash than Jindal."

What is The Protojournalist? New-school storytelling, old-school reporting. @NPRtpj

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