Jindal, who's very popular among fiscal as well as social conservatives, is also entertaining thoughts of running for president, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has to decide about running for re-election in 2014, may also take a second shot at the GOP nomination.
Romney's running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, returns to his leadership role in the House. Will Ryan, a favorite of fiscal conservatives and many tea party activists, make a run for the top spot in the next presidential cycle?
This week's election proved that the GOP has a problem with Latino voters. Will freshman Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a GOP rock star who's urging his party to address this problem, make a run for the White House? If he doesn't, maybe his mentor, two-term former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has strong relations with the Hispanic community, could make a bid.
Rubio, by the way, will be in Iowa in a week and a half to headline an event for the state's Republican governor.
Rubio isn't the only Republican senator whose name comes up. Add John Thune of South Dakota to the list. And will freshman Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky follow in his father's footsteps and run for president?
The GOP is famous for awarding the nomination to the candidate who came in second in the previous primary cycle, like with Romney this time. If that's the case, then watch former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. He gave Romney a run for his money, he's from an electoral-vote-rich state that the Republicans think they can reclaim, he's got a working-class background, and he's beloved by social conservatives.
Add in two more names from the 2008 cycle: Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who performed much better than expected in the GOP primaries, and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who was her party's vice presidential nominee that year. Huckabee is still popular, thanks to his radio programs and weekly show on Fox News Channel, and Palin still commands a loyal conservative following.
"There is a vacuum of leadership right now in the Republican Party. Whoever steps up right now to point the party toward its future will help the party and advance their own fortunes politically," says Republican strategist and CNN contributor Alex Castellanos.
But Castellanos, who was a senior media adviser to Romney's 2008 White House bid, says don't look to the past.
"The next Republican nominee will be tasked with taking the party into the future. It won't be the old retreads. It won't be Santorum, Huckabee or Palin. We need a new Republican from the ranks of GOP governors, senators, or even Jeb Bush and (former Secretary of State) Condi Rice who still represent the GOP's future."
So what do these possible 2016 wannabes do as the very early preseason begins?
If they don't have leadership PACs already, they form them, make speeches, campaign for fellow party members in the 2013 and 2014 races, write books and do cable news interviews, as they build up allies and support in the states that vote early in the primary and caucus calendar.
"This isn't a phase where people decide to run for president, it's when they start to do things that leave that door open," says a different Democratic strategist, who predicts that "there will be a wide open field on both sides next time around."