— Gov. Bobby Jindal. This is one guy to watch. Not only is the Louisiana Republican the first Indian-American governor in U.S. history, he won election to a second term as governor of Louisiana by “the highest victory percentage for any candidate since the state instituted its so-called ‘jungle primary’ in 1978,” per the Washington Post’s Cillizza. Indeed, he won every parish, 64 of them. He is expected to spend his political capital on education and health care reforms. In 2007, almost immediately after winning election with 54 percent of the vote, he called a special session to pass some of the most sweeping ethics reform legislation in the country in a state with a dubious ethical history. His resume is unparalleled in modern American politics: Brown University graduate, Rhodes scholar, consultant at McKinsey and Co., secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (appointed at 25 years old), executive director of the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare, president of the University of Louisiana System, assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and a Member of Congress. He is only 40 years old, and although he endorsed his friend and neighbor, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, for president in 2012, he is a very likely (and attractive) candidate for national office in 2016 or 2020.
— Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. While conservatives may feel that the Obama administration accomplishments on foreign policy are both reflective of continuing Bush-era policies and overblown, Clinton has emerged as a power player in the Obama Cabinet and on the world stage. Gallup’s December 2010 nationwide poll found that Clinton was the most admired woman in America, ahead of Sarah Palin, Oprah Winfrey, first lady Michelle Obama, Queen Elizabeth and Angelina Jolie. A March 2011 Gallup poll found that she had 66 percent approval. When Clinton aired the infamous “3 a.m. Phone Call” ad in her 2008 campaign against Obama, she could never have imagined that she would be answering the phone herself from Foggy Bottom, rather than the residence of the White House. Clinton has delicately handled crises in Libya, Egypt, North Korea, Tunisia, Syria, Burma and other hot spots around the world over the past year. While 2012, and her legacy as secretary of State, will likely be judged by what the end result is with the gathering threat posed by Iran, she has succeeded by doing her job, not making news, being a team player and ignoring domestic politics. Should she choose to run, she will be the frontrunner in 2016 on the Democratic side.