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

Last updated on January 10, 2007 (* denotes change in ranking)

The DEM Horses
Power Ranking The Horse Momentum The Tip Sheet
horse Hillary Clinton Clinton Hillary is still the lead horse, but the distance between her and her rivals has narrowed to half-a-length. The polls have tightened and her once impressive, overflowing financial war chest took an inexplicable hit during her easy breezy senate reelection campaign. She still wows the crowds and has plenty of A-List talent on her team, but being the front-runner for so long has taken a toll. Watch your back, Hillary, your nomination is no longer a foregone conclusion. (previous ranking: 1)
horse *John Edwards Edwards Edwards benefits from Obama’s drug rash of stories and takes the #2 spot, but the gap between the two is still tighter than John Kerry’s forehead circa 2004. Former Senator Shampoo has been working harder than any horse on the left and it’s finally paying dividends. The Derby wonders what Edwards says in private about Obama’s meteoric two-year rise from IL State Senator to convention speaker to his chief competition to become the ABH (Anybody But Hillary) candidate. We can hear Edwards now: “That dude totally has like NO experience!” (previous ranking: 3)
horse *Barack Obama Obama Obama took a hit last week when the Washington Post revisited the many “hits” he took as an adolescent. This isn’t exactly news, the book is over a decade old, but it never helps when the wanna-be-leader of men, women and children is painted with the drug brush. However, the Derby speculates his greater long-term problem is his penchant for cigarettes. A smoker arguing for universal health care? In a close horse race likely to be decided by hundredths of a second, these things matter. Plus, can he really represent the party that is actively working to ban smoking every place but the moon with a butt hanging out of his mouth? (previous ranking: 2)
horse Bill Richardson Richardson Richardson earns his ranking with a very impressive resume, even if you remove that little error about being drafted by the Kansas City A’s in 1966. He seems to have everything going for him and is certainly more moderate than either Hillary or Obama. The problem is ground support. He doesn’t have the infrastructure in early states and many of the Clinton-era allies he might have leaned on have already jumped on Hillary’s back. He’s still a force because he’s a popular hispanic and he thankfully doesn’t have the dreaded “S word” in front of his name. If he fades, watch for him to make the VP very-very-short list. (previous ranking: 4)
horse Tom Vilsack Vilsack Vilsack should at worst be in the #3 spot. He has an amazing story: orphaned at birth and later adopted, former mayor, state senator, retiring governor coming off two successful terms in the crucial state of Iowa, highly likeable, blah blah blah. So why is he in the crowded middle pack of ’08 horses? Because the Derby cannot find a single poll that gives him more than 2% and most have him at 1% or less. Even in his own state he recently polled 4th among contenders. He’s a threat, but he better get money in the bank on supporters in his pockets or this horse will be glue by Memorial Day. (previous ranking: unranked)
horse Joe Biden Biden Biden reappears in our rankings after a brief absence. The Derby doubts he’ll make a serious run, but for now he’s a very entertaining Sunday morning interview and he speaks with more candor than most of the horses ahead of him. Expect him to be off the racetrack and back in the stable before summer hits. (previous ranking: unranked)
horse Wes Clark Clark Clark was recently asked point blank on FoxNews whether he’d run in 2008. He answered, “I haven’t said I won’t.” Clark fans think that means he’s in. The Derby disagrees. Clark doesn’t appear to have the appetite for a grueling national campaign. He hoped to cut off much of the work in 2004 by entering the race just four months before the first votes were cast. It proved to be much too late. This time he might too late already. (previous ranking: 7)
horse Dennis Kucinich Kucinich Kucinich makes the rankings for the first time because, frankly, the Derby loves him. He’s an underrated public speaker and a surprisingly effective campaigner. Of course that’s outweighed by the fact that he’s too short and too liberal to be president. Kucinich is so far to the left of the other horses he’s running on the grassy infield. Heavens to murgatroid, he makes Hillary look like Brownback. You get the picture. (previous ranking: unranked)
horse Chris Dodd Dodd Dodd is a senator, he’s from the northeast, he’s virtually unknown outside his own kitchen and senate office and he has a very long voting record that’s bound to bite him in the hindquarters. Yet he wants to be president, has the reputation as a dogged hard worker, and he’s likely to make an announcement any day now. For that he enters the rankings. But how far he moves up will have more to do with how many stumble in front of him. (previous ranking: unranked)
horse John Kerry http://politicalderby.com/images/headshot_kerry.jpg Kerry, if we’re keepin’ it real, is the one candidate on the racetrack who thinks and looks most like a horse. Plus he’s the kind of candidate who would run just because the horses in front of him are running, and they must know what they are doing, right? Not to mention the fact that he’s got Theresa on his back wearing leather chaps and carrying a whip. The Derby isn’t convinced he’ll run, but we’re sure rooting for it. (previous ranking: 10)

Other DEM horses receiving votes: Howard Dean (please run), Al Gore (please don’t run), Mark Warner (rumors abound that he’s reconsidering)
The GOP Horses
Power Ranking The Horse Momentum The Tip Sheet
John McCain McCain McCain has finally made it official–sort of. He’s “exploring” a run for the White House, which is apparently different than what he’s been doing since 1962. So why does McCain remain the lead horse despite polling just behind Rudy Giuliani in every available poll? For starters, it appears he actually agrees with most conservatives on limited government, second amendment rights, abortion, etc. He certainly has his critics among the grassroots over his illicit affairs with campaign finance reform and global warming, but the Derby still suggests that if McCain were 10 years younger and 5 shades less pasty, he’d be running away from the field. (previous ranking: 1)
*Mitt Romney Romney Romney had quite the week. He picked up a few key endorsements from Sens. Demint and Owens, and unless you’ve been glued to the TV Guide Channel following Trump v. O’Donnell, you know that he shattered expectations by raising nearly seven million dollars during his “National Call Day”. McCain and Rudy won’t be shaking in their horseshoes, but the horses like Newt, Hunter, Brownback, and Thompson might be reconsidering whether to bother hitting the track at all. Those candidates likely couldn’t raise that much in 90 days – combined. Romney is inching up to McCain and could pass him with some favorable post-announcement poll numbers. Stay tuned… (previous ranking: 2)
Rudy Giuliani Giuliani Rudy is also just “exploring” a national campaign, but in doing so has also assembled an impressive posse of campaign and media gurus. From high in the grandstands Giuliani looks like the strongest horse. And once he gets a chance to talk to voters, he comes across as smart, confident, and dedicated. Will that be enough to overcome the fact that he is a smart, confident, dedicated social liberal? Take note: Rudy could be the first horse in the lead pack to pull up and out of the race. (previous ranking: 3)
Sam Brownback Brownback Brownback certainly has his share of fans in the far-right of the republican party. No other horse generates as much supportive e-mail to the Derby. Yes, he sings all the right songs on the issues, but he pulls no higher than 3% in any of the preference polls. When you look at Brownback, do you see the one senator that can finally break the streak of senators losing presidential elections? Brownback gets some love for running strong and standing for something, but he’s a long shot to break into the lead pack, let alone win. (previous ranking: unranked)
Newt Gingrich Gingrich Gingrich continues telling people he won’t make a decision until September. What he’s really saying is, “please continue listening to me until then.” When it comes to actual proposals for the future, no republican wins more praise than Newt. And while having ideas is nice, Newt also has more baggage than Jet Blue. Unless another horse trips and falls, expect Newt to stay in the middle of the pack. (previous ranking: 4)
Mike Huckabee Huckabee Huckabee has everything going for him. He desperately wants to be president, he has a compelling story, he’s coming off 8 years as governor, and he’s from the south. Why then has he done so little on the ground in the early states? He has less of a campaign presence in Iowa and New Hampshire than Jeb Bush, and he’s not even running. There’s still some time, but unless he makes up some major track position in the next 90 days, Huckabee’s best hope for appearing on a national ballot in ’08 will be on the #2 line. (previous ranking: 5)
Tommy Thompson Thompson Thompson’s resume gives him some valuable street cred and he appears to be with conservatives on the key issues. But he’s so far behind the contenders when it comes to staff and money that he’d need the Hubble just to see their fat behinds. If the Derby didn’t know better, we’d think Tommy is positioning himself to run the VP vetting team. Can you say, Dick Cheney? (previous ranking: unranked)
Duncan Hunter Hunter Hunter, much like Brownback, has a surprisingly fervent army of online supporters. It’s difficult to imagine him passing enough horses to threaten the top three, but the Internet can make stars of candidates in a hurry. Of course it can also send them screaming back to reality. (See Dean, Howard) Hunter gets credit for being so bold so early, but he’s not likely to make a legitimate charge up the track. (previous ranking: 9)
Jim Gilmore Gilmore Gilmore? It’s OK that you don’t know him, neither do 293 million other Americans, and that’s assuming seven million Virginians remember that he was once their Governor. Gilmore just formed one of those trendy “exploratory” committees that allows him to fly first-class and not pay for it out of his own pocket. To his credit, he enters the rankings as Virginia’s former golden boy drops out. Who would have predicted that in 2007 we’d be talking more about this former governor instead of George Allen? If all this doesn’t make Allen ball up in the fetal position and sing old George Strait songs, something’s wrong in the cosmos. (previous ranking: unranked)
Mike Pence Pence Pence is a popular Congressman who’s revered among grassroots conservatives. He has little name ID outside only the closest political watchers and to date has not indicated he’ll run. Nevertheless, The Tip Sheet hears that there is a quiet whisper campaign on the Hill in his honor. Honestly? Pence is ranked because the Derby needed a 10th and the field is pretty weak at the back of the track. There, we said it. (previous ranking: 6)
Other GOP horses receiving votes: George Allen (we kid because we care), Chuck Hagel (cool name), George Pataki (nice guy, horrible candidate), Mark Sanford, (we still think the SC governor is draftable), Tom Tancredo (we just don’t see it)

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