With every passing week, we seemingly get a new Republican presidential hopeful.
On Wednesday, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal became the 14th declared GOP candidate, including long-shot candidates like former IRS Commissioner Mark Everson and Donald Trump. The party itself counts 19 potential candidates in its online straw poll.
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Of course, most such lists weed out the majority of the 98 Americans who have actually registered as Republican candidates with the Federal Election Commission and maybe even put together a campaign website but have absolutely no hope of actually winning. Those are people like an optimistic grandfather in Indiana, or a California Fish and Game employee and "conservative constitutionalist," who doesn't believe the president was born in this country.
Even out of the "real" candidates, only a few will prove viable—and we won't necessarily know who until the first primary in February in New Hampshire. By then, there are usually only about three candidates winning a substantial portion of the votes, according to state election data.
It seems like we have had more Republican candidates come forward this year than in the past, but if we look at the official registration numbers, we actually have far fewer than the 132 registered candidates in 2012. So how do we determine the actual size of the Republican field, and is it really that much bigger than in the past? How can we separate the Republican wheat from the chaff?
One possible method—inspired by a metric developed by ESPN's FiveThirtyEight—would include only candidates who have the official backing of at least one U.S. representative, senator or governor. Here's how many of those candidates we had by this time each year.