March 28

Word-association games can often reveal a bedrock perception of an individual or thing. What if we applied this parlor game to the prospective field of 2016 presidential candidates? If you were given the name of a prospective candidate, what is the first word or phrase that pops into your mind?

Here’s my partial list:

Chris Christie: bully. Jeb Bush: no fire in the belly. Rand Paul: disruptive. Paul Ryan: slick. Rick Santorum: angry. Marco Rubio: inexperienced. Bobby Jindal: short of expectations. Rick Perry: new glasses, same brain. Scott Walker: asterisk. Mike Huckabee: passed-by. Joe Biden: nothing to lose. Hillary Clinton: ambivalent.

Quick takes like these have always been an important part of presidential campaign handicap sheets. They tend to harden into story lines, imperiling the candidates’ narratives before they have even begun to weave them. Mine may have some degree of accuracy. What are yours?