With one year to go, the presidential race is heating up. It’s time to tune in, because Iowans caucus in just 12 weeks and New Hampshire votes a week later.

Jeb Bush

Theme: Says he can fix Washington.

Assets: He still has a bigger stash of cash than his opponents.

Challenges: After underperforming for months, he needs a comeback.

Prospects: The GOP establishment backs him, but its clout is waning.


Ben Carson

Themes: Not a politician, harsh critic of President Obama’s health care law.

Assets: Ample outsider appeal — and he’s not Donald Trump.

Challenges: Focus on his veracity and quirky views hurts; has no detailed policy proposals.

Prospects: Barring big wins early, broad backing could be elusive.


Chris Christie

Themes: Willing to speak the hard truths, has won in New Jersey, a Democratic state.

Assets: Has charisma and is nimble in give and take with voters.

Challenges: Has little in common with Christian conservatives who are key in early voting.

Prospects: He’s betting on New Hampshire, which he must win.

Ted Cruz

Themes: The most conservative conservative, with a batch of bold ideas.

Assets: Rhetorical skills, uncompromising stances in a party that’s shifting right.

Challenges: Unclear how he can stand out in a conservative crowd.

Prospects: Could be outdone by rivals with more cash, crossover support from moderates.


Carly Fiorina

Themes: Only woman in the GOP race, says she’s Clinton’s “worst nightmare.”

Assets: Poise, spunk, executive background.

Challenges: Hard to imagine the party nominating someone who’s never held office.

Prospects: Sometimes campaigns are a launching pad for other professional pursuits.


Jim Gilmore

Themes: Defeating terrorism, improving the economy.

Assets: With a largely invisible campaign, it’s hard to assess.

Challenges: Out of politics since 2002, has raised little money.

Prospects: Let’s be honest. He doesn’t have much of a chance.

Lindsey Graham

Themes: Foreign-policy hawk, says he’s ready to be commander in chief.

Assets: Likable personality, self-deprecating humor.

Challenges: Unclear how he can build a wide base of support.

Prospects: Must win in homestate S.C. primary


Mike Huckabee

Themes: He’d be a leader with “moral clarity,” has a tax-cutting legacy.

Assets: Support from Christian conservatives who gave him Iowa in 2008 could still be intact.

Challenges: He’s not the only candidate who appeals to that bloc.

Prospects: If he can survive until March 1, he could fare well in Southern primaries.


Bobby Jindal

Themes: Says he would shrink the government and grow the economy.

Assets: Appeals to part of the base with opposition to same-sex marriage, support for religious freedoms.

Challenges: Hasn’t pulled himself out of lower-tier debate group, limiting his national exposure.

Prospects: He’s only 44, so this campaign could position him to compete in the next one.

John Kasich

Theme: Has proven record of balancing budgets in Washington, D.C., and in Columbus.

Assets: Attracted blue-collar votes and won twice in Ohio, a crucial swing state.

Challenges: Seems like the adult in the room at debates, but that hasn’t boosted his standing.

Prospects: Bush’s slippage might create an opening for him.


George Pataki

Themes: He’s the only supporter of abortion rights and gay rights in the GOP field.

Assets: His record as New York governor was solid.

Challenges: This really isn’t the right year for a socially moderate Republican.

Prospects: Candidacy is a capper — he’s 70 — to a distinguished career.


Rand Paul

Theme: Both parties share the blame for the country’s problems.

Assets: He’s the favorite of Tea Party members and libertarians.

Challenges: Hasn’t managed to spark buzz around his campaign.

Prospects: His unusual ideology could attract a diverse coalition, but it hasn’t so far.

Marco Rubio

Themes: Youth (he’s 44), energy and diversity.

Assets: A compelling personal story, appeal that could unite the party’s unruly factions.

Challenges: Scrutiny is increasing as he moves up in the polls; his Senate attendance is an issue already.

Prospects: He’s gaining momentum at the right time as his rivals’ appeal starts to fade.


Rick Santorum

Theme: Helping working Americans through conservative policies.

Assets: Iowa loves him; he won the 2012 caucuses.

Challenges: Needs to distinguish himself in the crowded field.

Prospects: A return to his commentary and advocacy background? Another run?


Donald Trump

Theme: Making America great again.

Assets: Star power, bluntness and deep pockets.

Challenges: Hasn’t shown a sophisticated understanding of key issues — or much interest in them.

Prospects: Recent polls show that voters might be tiring of his swagger.

Hillary Clinton

Themes: Competence, experience, Obama 3.0.

Assets: Support of the party’s establishment.

Challenges: Excitement deficit despite her chance to make history as the first woman president.

Prospects: Here’s the real question : Can anybody stop her?


Martin O’Malley

Themes: Fresh leadership and progressive values.

Assets: Youth (he’s 52) and vitality.

Challenges: He hasn’t generated much excitement and isn’t ahead anywhere.

Prospects: Barring major collapses by his rivals, he might be positioning himself for VP slot.


Bernie Sanders

Theme: Antipathy toward billionaire capitalists.

Assets: Enthusiam among voters who want a liberal option, fires up youths who might otherwise not vote.

Challenges: Viability could fade without strong showings in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Prospects: Will Democrats really nominate a self-described democratic socialist?