The Republican Party does not normally seek out fresh faces in their nominating process. Bush 43 cut to the front of the line based on his family name and I suppose Barry Goldwater came from nowhere in 1964, but otherwise the party likes to nominate familiar faces - I am thinking of Reagan, Bush 41, Dole, and McCain in 2008. My theory - we Like Ike and love Reagan, so going with a grey-haired veteran of the political wars is fine.
(By way of contrast, Dems are always in search of the next JFK. They need someone young and charismatic who has not actually taken positions or developed a track record that will antagonize some portion of their fractious base. By this rule, John Edwards should have defeated John Kerry in 2004, but I guess Kerry was unobjectionable enough, and he had an actual Kennedy in his corner.)
But 2012 will be different - setting aside Ron Paul, the only declared candidate that is back from 2008 is the shape-shifting Mitt Romney. On the other hand, the current field is, hmm, susceptible to improvement.
Rick Perry looks like a Central Casting President, but he carries the "fresh face" burden and he is increasingly annoying on immigration. As I recall (and pending a moment's research) he has been panned for fading in each of his debate appearances.
OTOH, Mitt Romney is the other Central Casting candidate, he is a familiar face, and he should do well in New Hampshire.
So, do Republicans embrace the familiar and get behind Mitt? Do we hold out for a re-tread like Sarah? Do we hold out for yet another fresh face like Chris Christie?
It's a bit early to say this is over, but as a public service announcement I offer the advice that Mitt wil be the one to oppose The One. People can start practicing their teeth-gritting nose-hold-while-filling-in-the-ballot right now.