Hot Topic: Who Should Be the Republican Nominee for President in 2016?

Those readers who believe it's too early to be talking about 2016 will be forgiven if they wish to click out of this post and on to something more interesting, like the latest from VDH or Spengler.

But for those of us who can't get enough raw politics, welcome to the kickoff of the 2016 GOP presidential race.

In case you haven't noticed, the race for the 2016 nomination began, for all intents and purposes, about 24 hours after the 2012 presidential election. The reason for that is that our current system for choosing a nominee demands that candidates begin to plan early, lock up donors and staff early, and start to build name recognition in early primary and caucus states.

You've heard that running for president is a marathon. That's not entirely accurate. It's more like an Ironman Triathlon where, after swimming 2.5 miles and bicycling 112 miles, you then get to run the 26.2 mile marathon. And if you're on your feet at the end of all that, you win.

So it is perfectly logical that more than two years from Election Day 2016, political junkies would not deem it out of the ordinary to begin to talk in earnest about who should be the next president of the United States.

There is already no lack of potential candidates. A recent story in The Hill gave thumbnail sketches of 13 top Republican prospects.

And a recent CNN Poll revealed Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney were the favorites of their respective parties. But the #2 Republican favorite raised a few eyebrows:

But the GOP side included something of a surprise in second place. The survey showed Romney with an edge over Republican contenders with his 20 percent. Among 510 right-leaning voters, 10 percent said they would support conservative Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon. Ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was next with 9 percent support, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie drew 8 percent support.

Carson has gained considerable ground in the polls, beating out well-known GOP contenders despite a lack of experience and despite -- or maybe because of -- some controversial remarks. Carson has called Obamacare "the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery" and slammed President Barack Obama for worsening race relations. The retired doctor told FOX News in May the Veterans Affairs debacle is a "gift from God."

The professional pundits and commentators are weighing in with their choices. Now it's your turn. Who do you want to see as the Republican nominee for president in 2016?

Please leave your thoughts below in the comments. If you haven't registered to comment yet, please take a few seconds to do so.