Welcome to the latest edition of PoliticalDerby.com's 2012 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 Editors 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.

The GOP Horses
Power Ranking The Horse Momentum The Tip Sheet


Governor Grassroots Darling makes his way to the front of the pack because he has the audacity to think SC might know better than Washington how to spend all that bailout booty. If he's successful in standing up to the 700,000,000-eyed stimulus monster, this shiny-toothed horse may stay out front through the first turn and be well positioned for the back stretch in 2010. If not, he could waste away faster than Katie Holmes on the cabbage soup diet.


Mitt holds on to #2 by simply staying steady. He continues to give good speeches and they seem to only get better with practice. Did winning the CPAC straw poll for the third time in a row reassure conservatives that he might actually be the answer this go 'round? Time will tell, but for now he just needs to hope that his health care legacy in Massachusetts doesn't end up being proof that Obama's can't work.

3 Sarah

Just when her daughter and grandbaby had become yesterday's news, America's favorite moose hunter has to deal with an ex-future-son-in-law. Palin must have cringed at Bristol's comment that abstinence isn't practical. (Technically the teen was right. Studies prove it's pretty dang tough to practice abstinence as a teenager while still having sex.) Now toss in the news that the woman who previously tried to convince us that the only good earmarks are the ones used to tag caribou slyly slipped a few of her own into the ominous omnibus bill. Is it 14:59 for Sarah?

4 Mike
Sanford’s move to the front of the pack knocks Huck back a slot on the track. The former governor is getting plenty of face time, but a central question seems to remain for many conservatives: Huck Glib Finn the best we can do? Really? He’s certainly working hard to convince his Switzerland-sized army of Fox News viewers that the answer is a big fat yes. Good thing for Huck that Hannity or Beck aren't running.
5 Bobby
Bobby breaks back into the front five by embracing the any-publicity-is-good-publicity axiom. Jindal gave the GOP response to President Obama's pseudo State of the Union speech and took a beating from the national press that even Chris Brown could be proud of. But while it wasn’t exactly must-see TV, it did have a Norman Gentle quality to it. Hard to watch; hard to look away. The good news is he’s performed better of late on Larry King, 60 Minutes, etc. The bad news is that unless he sprouts a second head that can speak something other than wonkese, he will never be a match for Obama. Or Romney, for that matter.


  • Dave

    Mark Sanford: Passes the SoCon, is great on Fiscal issues. Lots of good things to say. Problem is he is from the south, and people dont think that is good. List any other things.

    Palin: Looks silly after the 2008 election, needs to learn something by the name of Foreign policy, did a great job getting the base into gladly voting for Mccain, but did she do any good with Independants??? I dont blame her for loosing the election, everyone was sick of Bush, worried about the economy, Mccain looked foolish because of TARP, and Obama has great looks and a great teleprompter!!!

    Huckabee: Great with SoCons, needs to work on the other areas. His backers have a feud with Romney Backers, so that is something to note.

    Romney: Great (?) on fiscal, needs lots of work on SoCon and some on National Security. Million dollar question is if his kids will let him run??? He might send all their inheritance down the drain and I doubt they would like that even for their chance to see Good Old Dad run against Obama!

    Jindal: Rising Star, not much anger directed at him yet.

    Pawlenty???? Excuse me, but you saw him run for VP, got eveyone sleepy. I hereby nominate him for the Fred Thompson Candidate! Would be great if he made a CD that the kids could listen so they could fall asleep 3 minutes later.

    Huntsman: Everyone should realize that although Evangelicals dont hate Mormons, they hate their Theology and cant in good faith vote for one. If they have any other evangelical choice they would vote for him/her first.

    Newt Gingrich: Some people love him, others hate him. He is not likely to have any friends on the Talk Radio Side.

    George Allen, who knows, who cares?

    John Thune: Average voter: Who???

  • Sartho

    I wouldn’t mind seeing a Sanford/Romney combo ticket, just not sure which one I’d want as #1 and which as #2. If only we could have it today!

  • http://www.plusaf.com plusaf

    you can put lipstick on a Palin, but it still doesn’t give her the depth necessary to be anything more than say, a mayor [maybe not that, either.]

    PLEASE, Sarah, NOT AGAIN!!!!

    • Dave

      Problem with Sarah was for like the first week or so before the convention she had like one speech, total, then she recycled the speech she gave at the convention which was a great speech for the GOP, but not that great for the trail.

  • Shopper

    All these horses are in one stable. I, for one, do not discount the rabid ambition of a couple of scorned women in the Democrat Party. Nancy Nag vs. Hillary Horselaugh – now that would be a race!
    It’s just a matter of which of them will manage to trip up the incumbant and assumed frontrunner on the way to the 2012 gate.

  • Dave

    Fiscal Candidates: Jindal, Sanford, Romney?

    Populist-Social: Huckabee, Palin

    If the issues in the primaries are in 2011: Life,(Insert SoCon issues here), Economy, Earmarks, Bailouts, who wins?

  • Dave

    Interesting, keeping myself as a I like Blank, long way to 2012. Position on stimulus, pork, etc will be my # 1 issue in the end of 2010 when deciding.

    We need a countdown timer on PD till the minute after the midterm elections, because that is when this race begins.

  • Rick B.

    I loved Allen as governor, but you can stick a fork in his presidential potential.

    Huck would be a disaster.

    Sarah Palin, as much as I like her, is over-hyped. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of her, but I don’t know if she’s the one to take on Obama in 2012.

    Romney? Well, given our economic woes, I wish he were sitting in the Oval Office today. There was definite anti-Mormon bigotry on display in 2008, and I don’t think that will fade prior to 2012.

    So much will depend on Obama’s presidency and what takes place over the next few years. Will it be 1980, Reagan vs. Carter? Or ’96, Dole vs. Clinton? Dole ran against a popular sitting president. Did anyone really believe he’d beat Clinton? (though I voted for him, I knew those were long odds) We might get another “bench warmer” on our ticket in 2012 if the real talent is afraid to step up to the plate.

  • http://sfritz55@gmail.com Frederick Schmidt

    As much as I love Sarah, and what she says, I am afraid that the media will crucify her, which will simply make her irrelevant, and then there goes another election. As of now she is damaged goods.

  • Gary Russell

    Wait a minute…

    The PD braintrust meets with George Allen over the weekend, and suddenly Allen’s name re-appears in the Derby Rankings?

    Coincidence? I think not!

    • Stephen Fountain

      Wow Gary. Your objection seems to imply that the esteemed former governor might slip us the word “I’m in for 2012″ and we wouldn’t pass on that little snippet. What could we possibly be waiting for? A more timely moment to release that info? A lul in the news cycle? I can’t fathom the reasoning behind your objection.

      • Gary Russell

        Who’s objecting?

        I was a George Allen fan before the massive media overblown “macaca” story.

        Just figure that you guys must have a little behind-the-scenes knowledge of his intentions.

        I’d love to see him run.

  • Brian H

    My Handicaps

    1. Sanford

    2. Romney

    3. Jindal

    4. Pawlenty

    5. Palin

    6. Huckabee

  • nobama

    Another Texan cowboy? Zero chance.

  • Dorothy Foulk

    Mitt’s the man. He is the only one who is trustworthy. He is smart, knows how to run companies and manage people. He knows who he is, where he has been and where he is going. How many people could you say that about?

    • nobama

      He knows who he is now, but he sure didn’t running against Kennedy. I like him fine–but I think you overstate the case.

  • The Trainer at Saratoga

    Looking at potential horses that could be in the gate come 2012, don’t forget Rick Perry of Texas.

    • Gil Rice

      Gov. Good Hair has never even carried his home county in all of his elections, so I cannot see him even considering this step.

      • Alaina Segovia

        Seriously… I don’t know how he got re-elected anyway.

        He tried to use our Teacher’s Retirement Fund to fund start up businesses. He tried to sell our state lottery to a corporation to run, I guess he didn’t think we could use that revenue. He tried to establish a mandate to force teen girls to get the HPV vaccine (I’m not opposed to the vaccine, but I think it should be a choice). And more recently, he and the other idiots of our state legislature think it’s a good idea to legalize gambling, but only allow Indians to run the casinos and keep all the profit.

        Not a fan. Not a fan at all.

  • Flustered Carolinian

    Governor Sanford,
    While a very conservative and long-time Republican and also from the great but economically poor State of South Carolina, if the bailout money has been approved by Congress and now each State has a portion, take the money and put it to much needed capital or one-time expenditures that will benefit our great State like roads, bridges, new schools and other essential infrastructure. Why give more money to California or New York who never seem to have enough and yet look to us as South Carolinians to pay the bailout money back in future taxes? We are past the time of supporting or not supporting the Bailout Bill- it passed and we need to take and invest our share prudently. Your leadership now is critical for our State. Good luck!

  • RickyD

    Only disagreement is that I would put Palin in #2 ahead of Romney. As long as she still looks like a victim of the MSM, conservatives will rally to her. For my take I think she’s going to fade and won’t even run when all is said and done.

  • http://www.politicalderby.com/ Jason Wright, Editor

    Interesting note from John Hawkins of http://www.gop12.com about the rankings:

    “Any analysis that doesn’t have Sarah Palin out in front and everybody
    else way, way, way, behind her is well…let’s just say way off.”

    • Joe Citizen

      Sarah gear and advocacy groups dominated the exhibit room at CPAC. It’s a shame; I like the lady and people don’t realize or won’t admit she can’t cut it on this level. Holding principles we agree with isn’t enough.

      If Huckabee continues to play bass poorly with his utterly anonymous music guests on Fox News (really, is this Letterman?), he can’t miss the nomination.

    • Rick Hendrix

      I think that’s true. As someone who is active in local Republican politics, I think Sarah still has a very large fan base, bigger than the others. I suspect she would have done better at CPAC had she spoken there in person (yeah, I’m trying to salvage my disastrous Palin pick in the CPAC poll predictions). But I like everyone on the list, other than Huck. And I do think Sanford has the momentum.