Welcome to the latest edition of PoliticalDerby.com’s 2008 Power Rankings, the first tracking service of the next race for the White House. The rankings are updated as circumstances warrant, generally twice a month. The rankings are compiled by our Editor using wire reports, campaign staffer scuttlebutt, and confidential tips. The rankings may not be reprinted or quoted in any form without attribution to PoliticalDerby.com.

Updated November 24, 2006

The GOP Horses
Power Ranking The Horse Previous Ranking Momentum The Tip Sheet
1 John McCain 1 The Maverick earned more than frequent flier miles this fall, he collected a tour bus full o’ chits from GOPers across the country. Unfortunately those aren’t worth nearly what they were on the open chit market just a few weeks ago. Many of the folks McCain stumped for are now waiting tables, or worse, practicing law. Now we wait to gauge whether the party’s faithful will embrace his Love Bus Tour. Sure, he still leads in the polls, but it’s hard to believe his numbers include the card carrying base that show up in the ice and snow to vote. For now McCain clings to the top spot, but the horses behind him are picking up serious steam as we round the quarter pole.
2 Mitt Romney 3 Romney has delayed an announcement about his ’08 plans until January, but that isn’t keeping him from closing the gap on McCain. He recently took his first shot, referring to McCain’s position on gay marriage as “disingenuous” and positioning himself as the only top-tier candidate on the right side of immigration, campaign reform, and detainee interrogation. Even Newt, a potential contender himself, has suggested Romney could be the one to offer a clear conservative voice. He’s polling better than six months ago and has a formidable infrastructure on the ground in key states. He trails McCain by less than a length.
3 Rudy Giuliani 2 Rudy is the nicest looking horse on the farm, but will primary and caucus voters feel the same after a full physical? He still lights up a room like no candidate from either side, Hillary inclusive, but he’s only known to most as a 9-11 hero and effective communicator. At some point he’ll have a whole lotta ‘splainin’ to do on affirmative action, gay rights, abortion, guns, etc. But for now he’s comfortably in the lead pack.
4 Newt Gingrich 4 Gingrich is running as an ideas candidate; it’s clear he has no intention of officially seeking the nomination. He recently pledged to hold off on a decision until September, but by then he’ll be 9 months too late. Nevertheless, expect Newt to remain active and relevant. The grassroots loves him and every other horse will be whining for his support and endorsement.
5 Mike Huckabee 5 The Tip Sheet wonders why it seems Huckabee has been running for president since about 1987. Yet despite these obvious designs on the White House, he has remarkably little presence in the key states. Will that change when he leaves the governor’s mansion in January? Or is the new-and-improved Mini-Me-Huckabee actually running for Number 2?
6 Mike Pence 8 Congressman Pence is emerging as the unofficial leader of conservatives in the House. The Tip Sheet hears chatter from House staffers that they pine for him to throw his hat in, but so far he’s given no indication he’s interested. If none of the horses ahead of him fail to ignite grassroots’ passions, look for Pence to start listening to the whispers. If nothing else, the Tip Sheet guarantees that Pence’s name will make the coveted VP vetting list.
7 Bill Frist 7 Frist is hanging by a thread thinner than an European super-model. His tenure as Majority Leader won’t win him many chapters in the history book of conservatism and he’s just watched the Senate slip away under his watch. He remains in the top 10 because he’s done more work on the ground in Iowa and New Hampshire than most others, but the Tip Sheet predicts he’ll gracefully bow out no later than April Fool’s Day.
8 Condi Rice 9 Condi remains in the top ten because she still has very ardent supporters with their petitions, bill boards, web sites and prayer beads. There’s only one problem and it might be tougher to solve than the North Korean standoff. She doesn’t want to be president. Generally that’s considered a prerequisite in this country.
9 Duncan Hunter 10 Hunter’s name appears regularly on at least one ultra-conservative e-mail list as the last great hope for conservatives. He has virtually no shot of winning the nomination, but he’s commended for a record decidedly more consistent than many of the horses beyond his reach. He’s a 1000-1 long shot, but at least he had the hoofs to get in the gate.
10 George Allen 10 Allen unbelievably dropped down the charts faster than a K-Fed album. It was only a few months ago that the former Congressman, Governor and Senator was in the lead and looking like a horse that would sprint into 2007 with major momentum. Now he’s just a proud member of the Virginia Bar. The Tip Sheet predicted not long ago that Allen could get the macaca off his back and still pursue the White House. Well that just sounds silly now, doesn’t it?
The DEM Horses
Power Ranking The Horse Previous Ranking Momentum The Tip Sheet
1 Hillary Clinton 1 Hillary has occupied this spot since day one of our rankings, but the distance between the 800-pound horse and the field has shrunk considerably. The Tip Sheet calls her the most attractive hypothetical candidate in history. When pollsters call it makes democrats feel progressive and brave to say they’d support her for the nomination. But will they feel the same way when it’s time to pull a lever and put her divisive name at the top of a 50-state ballot? Watch your hindquarters, Hillary, your opponents are closing fast.
2 John Edwards 3 Edwards’ numbers have never been better, and, unlike so many of his GOP counterparts, Edwards has chits to spend after canvassing the country in support of democrats for the last six months. He’s refining his message nicely and appears more deliberate than in ’04. His greatest challenge remains a resume with essentially four entries: Trial Attorney, One-term Senator, Vice-presidential Nominee, Shampoo Model.
3 Barak Obama 2 Is the Obamamania Show already off the schedule? The Tip Sheet has seen Fox sitcoms last longer. It’s indisputable the race for this nomination will boil down to Hillary and a representative of the Anybody But Hillary Party. Obama has work to do if he wants to claim that role and it’s unclear whether he’d run to the right, left or alongside Hillary. In some interviews and speeches he sounds like a moderate, independent voice. In others he sounds like a traditional liberal calling for a pullout of Iraq in 2007 and criticizing John McCain, a very popular voice among independents. Still, whether he runs or not, expect Obama to field VP offers.
4 Bill Richardson 5 Richardson has been steadily moving through the pack since recovering from the gaffe over his professional baseball career, or lack thereof. He’s showing some teeth, getting active online, and his resume is unmatched on the track. Still, some are wondering whether he has the discipline for a two-year national campaign. If he finds his message and rhythm, the Tip Sheet predicts he sticks with the lead horses at least through the fall of ’07.
5 Evan Bayh 4 FLASH: Bayh Spotted Joining Local Chapter of Toastmasters. That’s a good first step, but the charismatically challenged could use a Zig Ziglar seminar as well. Notwithstanding his oratorical skills, he’s an attractive candidate who clearly seeks the Anybody But Hillary tag. He’s been running longer than any democrat besides the front-runner but still registers little passion in the polls. He needs to move to early in ’07 or risk being lapped by the other moderates.
6 Al Gore 8 Gore must be giddier than a 7-year old on a sugar-high at the new Senate makeup. The former VP is sure to lobby hard for new energy policies and the resurrection of the Kyoto Treaty because everyday global warming makes the news Gore gets three phone calls from allies encouraging him to run again. He’s become a one-trick pony, but if global warming heats up enough, Gore could feel emboldened to take another shot. Surely he stands a better chance of earning a second whack at the White House than his chum John Kerry.
7 Wes Clark 7 Clark appears to have entered the Witness Protection Program. Either he’s working his ground game quietly in Iowa and New Hampshire, or he’s closing in on the always-popular announcement that he won’t seek the nomination because he still has “important things to accomplish in private life.” The General still has a small army of loyal online supporters and, should he bow out, his endorsement of another candidate could be worth a small bump to another horse.
8 Howard Dean 9 Dean is still basking in democrats’ House and Senate takeovers. This despite the fact that many key insiders contend they won in spite of Dean, not because of him and his much-publicized 50-state strategy. Nevertheless, watch for the good Doctor use whatever good will he’s riding to stick his foot in and test the waters. Then as the old axiom goes, expect democrats to bite his toes off “with a voracity that has no equal on earth.”
9 Russ Feingold 6 Feingold says he’s out. We’re not sure we buy it. He’s the most liberal horse on the farm and if the far-left doesn’t find a winner with any in the lead-pack, Feingold could easily be Rangled (drafted) back into the race. Stay tuned.
10 John Kerry 10 It says something about Kerry that he’s ranked below a guy who says he isn’t even running. Kerry said his final decision on running won’t be affected by his “botched joke”. Indeed, democrats seem to think his “botched campaign” in ’04 ought to affect his decision just fine, thank you very much. As the incomparable blogger Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post recently noted, it’s been 50 years since democrats gave a presidential loser another shot. (Adlai Stevenson, 1952 and 1956) Ta-ta, John.