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


Romney's 2009 to-do list: Slip sedative in Jindal's water bottle before national debut? Check. Transfer frequent flier miles to Sanford for Argentina trip? Done. Tweet that Huntsman speaks Mandarin Chinese? Yep. Mastermind Palin's bizarre resignation as Governor? You betcha! Can any sane pundit make an argument that Mitt Romney is not the clear front runner for the 2012 nomination? He's still getting tasty mojo from activists and party leaders who appreciated his team-first response to losing to McCain and he's refilling his cash and goodwill bank accounts in hopes he can better defend the Flipper jokes. His favorability rating has spiked up 10 points since bowing out after Super Tuesday, according to Pew Research. Nothing stinky about that.

2 Mike

A PD source very close to Huckabee whispers that Huck is "absolutely" running again. With all due respect to our source, well duh. His everyman likability and quippy, witty debate skills should once again be a tool in finding early traction on the track. Not to mention the FoxNews gig, which is great for capturing the dozens of people huddled around their televisions watching cable news on Saturdays and Sundays. But charm and an audience may not be his biggest assets. What are the chances he disappears to Argentina and has to return home to admit an affair with a gorgeous South American beauty? Zippo. If that doesn't give you (and Argentinian women) scream-for-your-momma nightmares, nothing will.

3 Sarah

The deaths have been overwhelming. Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Billy Mays, the political careers of Mark Sanford and Sarah Palin. When will it end? Even since the resignation announcement, polls say Palin remains very popular with the grassroots. But as we learned in 2008, winning the adoration of the grassroots isn’t enough to secure a nomination. If it were, Ron Paul would have caught the confetti in Minneapolis-Saint Paul. If Palin decides to run in 2012, expect the likes of Romney and Huckabee to gut her like a fish over her experience. It’s tough to make the experience argument against your opponents in 2008 and then quit 30 months into your first term as governor before you’ve even knocked out your first box of letterhead. Nevertheless, don't underestimate the woman who can draw and quarter David Letterman during Willowgate and isn’t afraid to use words like “bull crap” in interviews.

4 Haley
Most Americans know Barbour for his quick and strong response to the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina as governor of Mississippi. Few Americans know Barbour was accused of personally profiting from the Katrina effort. Most Americans heard that Barbour has replaced the disgraced Mark Sanford as the chair of the Republican Governors Association. Few Americans know that Barbour co-founded the second most powerful lobby firm in the nation, and that said firm has been paid millions of dollars from the tobacco industry. Anonymity has its advantages.
5 Bobby
A host of conservatives once touted Bobby Jindal as a conservative that is bright, young and exciting. That was all BS: Before Speech. Jindal’s GOP response to Barack Obama’s first State of the Union address was about as exciting as an ABC Obamacare infomercial. It was only one performance, but in the world of politics, first impressions can be lasting impressions, which does not bode well for Jindal. Yeah yeah, we know, Billy “Comeback Kid” Clinton bounced back from a universally panned convention speech in 1988. Bobby, with all due respect, you’re no Billy.


  • Tom Kane

    I think Mitt will get the nomination, and even has decent chances at winning the presidency. A lot of people are saying that it is ‘too soon’ to guess and that the nomination will likely go to someone new that we haven’t heard of, but that is probably not going to happen. We just know more about Mitt now than we have about other future candidates in the past because of the transformation in how we get information. With all the blogs, 24-hour news channels, and political junkies in this country, it’s no wonder we have so much more information about the process. Besides, if anyone who watched Barack Obama’s 2004 keynote speech at the Democratic Convention didn’t think that he was going to run for president, they’re crazy. Astute observers can always tell who is up and coming, and with sites like politcalderby.com now everyone else can too.

  • Minneanoplaceguy

    Has anyone heard if Rep. Paul Ryan (WI) has any intentions?

  • John K

    I still think Rudy would give Obama a hell of a run. Especially if he runs for Gov in 2010. Rudy can draw in Independents. And Republicans will vote for Rudy no matter what they threaten. Maybe a Rudy-Thune might overtake Romney.
    Lets not forget about Rudy. He was the front runner early on in 2008. Lets see how he plays it the next 2 years and how New York plans to use him!

  • John K

    I think Romney is by far the most presidential candidate for 2012 the Republicans have to offer. However, Mitt also has that used car salesman vibe. He is always smiling even when he is lying! And I think that might scare off some voters. I think Republicans have to pool their resources. I think John Thune or Jindal have to be either on the same ticket or be the VP choice for Romney. Thune is attractive and well spoken and that could get help get some of the female vote. Jindal adds color similar to Obama and is young and talented. So Romney, Thune, Jindal in 2012. Crist would also make a good VP. I cant see a Romney-Jindal ticket but I think a Romney-Thune ticket might be the best case.

  • Dave

    57 Comments???? Wow

    Romney, Huck rematch in 2012, Great!!!! Some of the bitterness between their backers will be gone and we can watch it sprout all over again. Thats if Romneys kids dont mind good old dad spending another 40 million of their inheritance.

    In all reality, if Palin runs it would be a big joke. I was governer of Alaska for 2 years, and Mayor of wasilla for a little longer. The only thing going for her is that if Mitt or anyone that is running against her says something nasty, if she doesnt pull a riflesight on them her supporters would. Grin Come on, she has much chance of winnin as Glen Beck, hey thats an idea!!!!Lets get Glen Beck for Pres!!! LOL

    Barbour who??? That would be most peoples reaction, Although the lobbyist part, just like Freds last year worries me. I think I will Pass, + just another deep south white guy Many would argue.

    Jindal??? Anyone seen him recently, he like vanished instantly.

    PAwlenty will either run for the Senate, or run for Potus. He would be way back in the pack at first, but lets see if he moves up from the 3rd tier.

    Gingrich??? After 2008 jumping in, jumping out,I dont think so

    • Dave

      Anyone think we might get another senator this time around????

      Coburn, DeMint, Thune, Any other ideas?

  • http://www.rk@hotmail.com Rocky

    2012 election will be 1./ economy,2./national security,3./foreign policy.
    democrats has Carter 2 now and republican has Reagan 2 return on time too(Mitt,he look Reagan,both have same leadership style)so Reagan will be back in the white house 2013.republican has many good leader now but Mitt is the America dream now and the future, he is the smartest, the strongest,look president already now,just don’t repeat mistake and defeat,please play the winner card and respect your real leader(Mitt)to take back America from the fail policy that will lead America to bankruptcy.

    • Dave

      You have got to be kidding me! Mitt doesnt look a think like Ronald!!! I personally would leave the reagen comparisons out of it, it wont happen.

  • Ron

    Great call Jason. Romney would make the best president since Reagan. Let’s just hope that Obama continues to play the Carter role effectively.

    For those who would call him a RINO, Romney sure talks the talk and walks the walk when he speaks of the three-legged stool of modern conservatism: strong families, a strong private economy, and a foreign policy of peace through strength.

    For me, this three-legged stool constitutes the truth that will set us free.

  • WilliamK

    I say it will be someone we never even heard of for more than five minutes.

    • Rick B.

      You have a point: it worked out well for the Dems in 2008.

  • Steve

    Romney is a RINO (just like McCain)…….GOP will not make the same mistake again. And for everyone who thinks he is some kind of economic genius, please explain his support of the stimulus package and his RomneyCare debacle in MA.

    • Morga Vance

      Did I just read Steve claim that Romney supported the Obama stimulus package? Please, brother, do a little homework before you spue idoicy and make yoursef look like a fool. He supported a Gingrich model of stimulus that would not empower govenment and the politicians that run governmet as the plan that passed did; but rather a plan that would favor small business. A plan that was so black and white from BO’s, that may even be an understatment

  • whodat

    Does the Soros Conspiracy Theory cover “Conservatives” from Massachusetts.

  • Lizzy

    If Romney is not the candidate this next round, I’ll know the Soros Conspiracy Theory is a fact. Don’t make me a crazy, back Romney.

  • Gary Russell

    Can we post a better photo of our “lead horse”?

    The look on Romney’s face suggests that he is dazed and confused.

  • Alaina

    I’m not excited about any of them… at all…

    I know I’m the only one here that will say this, but I want Rudy!

    • Gary Russell


      • Alaina

        Yes, yes, I know… he’s not popular here, but I love him!

        The two primary issues for me are the economy and foreign policy/national security. Both of which he did a great job with while Mayor of New York. Foreign policy is strecthing it a bit, but the NY crime rate plummetted when he was Mayor, but I guess he had the UN to deal with.

        Anyway, I can’t think of anyone better to handle those issues and he’s exactly what we need right now.

        I know he’s a bit moderate to left on some of the social issues, but I don’t really care about those.

        How long has it been since anything has changed in regard to abortion and how many Presidents have gone through the White House with opposing opinions since? Gay rights is really a state issue and I don’t see it becoming an issue that the federal government will take on.

  • anonymous

    Romney won’t get the nominee in 2012. He is not a true conservative. I think Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota might be a good choice if Palin doesn’t run in 2012. It is just too early to tell. If Romney does get the nominee, I will not vote for him. He is just like another John McCain and Romney is a liberal Democrat.

  • whodat

    Stop The Presses! Stop The Presses! Whodat found he who be the who can re-ignite the doused flame of conservative activism:

    Peter King of New York. Yes, I know that thye Michael Jackson worship is not the buring issue of state, but King does exhibit a high level of common sense and a higheer level of courage. To wit:

    From Fox News: A day after posting a YouTube video blasting Michael Jackson as a “lowlife,” Congressman Peter King said he opposes any move to honor the King of Pop’s legacy on a postage stamp.

    King, a New York Republican, criticized calls by the Rev. Al Sharpton to have the U.S. Postal Service issue a Michael Jackson stamp in an interview Tuesday with WPIX News. Sharpton is also pushing for a national day of mourning to honor the pop star.

    “It’s almost as if he were Mother Theresa,” King told the station. “Our priorities have been skewed. They’ve become really, I think, totally out of whack.”

    “I tapped into something that many people have been thinking about but were afraid to say,” King said in explaining his decision to make his views known in a YouTube video. “I think that those of us in public life have an obligation to try and stop something when we have something that is going so far in the wrong direction.”

    Now, that’s what I’m talking about!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Whodat, probably wrong as usual, but happy to see a pol with (you know)…

    • Alaina

      I don’t know anything else about him, but I can definitely get behind those quotes!

      • whodat

        AT this moment, there is a video clip on Foxnews.com in the O’Reilly section. Enjoy.

      • whodat

        AT this moment, there is a video clip on Foxnews.com in the O’Reilly section. Enjoy.

    • Gil Rice

      I was for King the day he made his statement and so stated on PD. He has the cojones to say what so many people want to, but will not, and the Factor interview last night was very enlightening.

  • sl

    Like Huck, Thune and Jindal. Mitt is too liberal for me to support. Liked Palin, will just have to see where she goes from here.

    • Brian H

      On what policies are Huck, Thune, and Jindal more liberal than Palin?

  • Brian H

    By the way. Great Picture of Mitt! He does look the part.

    I am not sure how much weight the “flip flopper” montra will work by 2011 if he stays consistant on his current conserbative positions.

  • Troy La Mana

    I didn’t vote for Romney before and I would have a hard time voting for him now. The flip-flops before and the failed healthcare plan now. Sorry, just can’t buy it.

    I am hoping that Fred or Ron will run again.

    • Gary Russell

      I wasn’t aware that Fred ran last time.

      More like a casual stroll to the fridge.

      Wish he’d run – I liked him.

      2012? Can’t picture him putting forth MORE effort with four more years under his already aged belt.

      • Brian H

        HAHAHA…So true about Fred. Is he even awake yet?

        Captain Ron is 73 years old, I do believe that horse drawn wagon has left the station.

  • Sartho

    I was all ready to throw Romney under the bus by trying to use his failed Mass. healthcare stuff as an example of why we shouldn’t do the same type of thing as a nation. But then Sanford fell off the boat and I just don’t think I can throw Mitt under the bus any more.

    I have zero excitement about anyone else and Huckabee still makes me cringe.

  • Brian H

    Nice job with the morning lines.

    After four years under the cool/hip General Zod a grown-up like Romney’s might get some serious play.

    As a fan of horseracing one thing that I realize is that when the betting begins and people begin putting their money where their mouth is the lines begin to change quite a bit. Same thing here. The fan favorites (Palin, Huckabee) will get some play but the best horse, the well trained well groomed thouroubred, will get my $2.00 “Win” ticket. The favorites win about 30% of the time.

    My Tickets

    $10.00 Win – Storm’n Mormon
    $5.00 Place – Pawlenty of Speed
    $2.00 Show – Jindal All the Way

    $2.00 Exacta Wheel
    Storm’n Mormon with… Huckabeliever, Jindal All the Way

    • Red State Eddio

      Best comment so far simply for the Vegas line. Loved it!

  • http://www.sotr.us Cordeiro

    I agree with MItt’s top billing. 2012 will (most likely) hinge on economic street cred. Nobody in the republican field can top Mitt on that issue.

    I’d say more, but my stomach is still churning from Fearless Leader’s mention of Huckabee flinging to Argentina.

  • Rick Hendrix

    I think these rankings are about right, although I might quibble with Haley if this is supposed to be “where they are right now” as opposed to “where we think they might be later.” For the former, I would move Gingrich up.

    Ticket talk?

    How about Romney-DeMint? Yeah, two white guys, but I could get excited about it (speaking as an old white guy … not to mention an LDS southerner. And, hey, DeMint went to Tennessee as an udergraduate!).

    I could also get excited about Romney-Blackwell (Ken, not Morton … sorry Morton).

    I can’t get excited about Huckabee-anyone.

    • Rick Hendrix

      Sorry … undergraduate.

  • Red State Eddio

    I believe Romney is in the driver’s seat right now. Both from his rep and stature, as well as the current financial fears of govt run amok, put him well out front.

    Beyond that, it’s a cast of thousands.

    I will be the lone voice that says that Sarah Palin is not done, and that she has potential to be the dark horse or kingmaker come 2012. She still has rock star appeal, and if she pursues the Nixon strategy of the mid-60’s, she’ll build the army under the radar without the media’s microscope (and gunsights) on her back.

    • Gary Russell

      I’m on record as saying that Palin didn’t damage herself politically.

      Simply because she either:
      a) Has a plan that is worth taking a PR hit now; or
      b) Is not planning to run for pres.

      • http://nonangrypoliticalwoman.blogspot.com treen

        I don’t buy for a second that Palin doesn’t have something up her sleeve. I read her speech – lots of dropped references to “stand up and fight” and effort and even specifically said that she would be out campaigning for people.

        I think she’s planning a White House run, and she’s copying Romney’s strategy – quit your day job to campaign perpetually without actually “campaigning.” I’d also be willing to wager that she’s going to end up on Fox News sooner rather than later, like Huckabee. So much for “original.”

        • Gary Russell

          C’mon, Treen.

          You’ve gotta admit that, like her or not, Sarah is indeed “orginal”.

          The “expected” was for her to finish this term, and then probably not run for re-election.

          If she IS running in 2012, was her move “orginial”?

          You betcha :)

      • Red State Eddio

        Alright, Gary, you can walk in my shadow as I stand alone on this one. :-)

        Maybe she takes Fox, maybe not.

        I’d have her first doing a boatload of localized campaigning for the 2010 congressional races around the country. Shake a million hands, kiss a thousand babies. That’s where she shines, and that where she’ll know whether the tide is still in for her. That’s where the people are.

  • Alex

    Who is in the pipeline in case 2012 turns out to be a foreign policy/national security election like we apparently expected 2008 to be?

  • East of Eden

    Very interesting….

    I like Mitt, all except for the fiasco that is Romney-care. I don’t know if that will be a good thing or bad thing for him.

    I like Haley Barbour, but I don’t see him going far.

    Mike Huckabee makes me feel ill.

    I don’t know enough about Jindal to make a judgement right now. I think everyone has a bad speech now and then.

    As for Sarah. I’ve always been a big fan. I don’t care why she resigned. Perhaps she feels she can be more effetive as a private citizen?? Or maybe she really does want to just get out of politics and is not planning any sort of grand move….it’s a possibility. I wish her luck though.

  • http://scottslant.blogspot.com/ Scott A. Robinson

    I’m surprised to see Haley Barbour in the top 5 as the “stealth” candidate. I expected Pawlenty to fill this role and be ranked as high as 2 or 3.

    As for Romney, Palin’s jump off the bridge does clearly make him the leader at this point. However, looking forward, how many early leaders actually win a political race?

    Plus, the economy is likely to improve over the next two years (despite all the government intervention preventing economic growth). This will leave Romney without his strongest issue running against an incumbent. The only way he remains the lead horse in 2012 is if the economy is still in the tank.

    • Red State Eddio

      I really doubt the econ will be off the table by 2012. Different scenarios abound, but it’s likely that we could either flat line with high unemployment, have a second recession after the next round of housing (commercial) goes bust, get stuck with a massive debt load that results in higher taxes, or continue to creep closer to the edge of depression. Most non-White House related pundits put any bottoming out well into 2010 or possibly later. But I seriously doubt we’ll be riding high on any kind of wave before 2012.

      • http://scottslant.blogspot.com/ Scott A. Robinson

        It doesn’t have to be a high wave, just improvement significant enough to convince Americans that the economy doesn’t need “fixing”.

        • Alaina

          Doubtful… analyst aren’t even considering a turn around in the oil and gas industry until this time next year… at the very earliest.

          Wall Street is riding a high right now, but it’s artificial. There’s too much coming down the line right now. Like Warren Buffett said 2 years ago, this recession will be long and deep.

          • BenInIdaho

            To think that this economy is going to be on the right track under this administration is a joke. The rate they are burning through cash and building up debt it just can’t happen. That isn’t what I want but it is what I forsee with the current track record. It is eerily similar to Carter’s boondoggle.

            I like Palin – I like Pawlenty – I like Romney – but if the economy is still at the top of the concerns in the primaries for 2012 then Romney has to have a huge leg up. His background with the Olympics – business ventures – etc. just help in more ways than any of the others could hope to bring to the table.

            He has to get past the stuffed shirt image that he presents at times though. It turns too many people off.

  • http://nonangrypoliticalwoman.blogspot.com treen

    I would be totally fine with Romney being the nominee – that’s who I would have voted for last time if I’d had the opportunity (he’d already dropped out by the time the primary got to me). If it had been McCain-Romney last time, I really think that would have been a much tighter race, if not an R win because of Romney’s financial chops.

    So let’s say Romney gets the nomination. The thought that makes me nervous is who his options are for the VP. It doesn’t seem like either party could feasibly run a “two old white guys” ticket anymore. So according to this list, we’ve got Jindal and Palin as the VP option – unimpressive and HELL NO. Who else?

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

      Pawlenty? He was the #2 choice behind Palin last time. He was VERY close to getting the call.

      • David Kaiser, Editor

        OK, I just realized we are talking about a VP candidate in 2012 and its 2009.

        We need help. Now.

        • http://scottslant.blogspot.com/ Scott A. Robinson

          The VP discussion just moved us from the 1-50 horse to the 1-1,000 horse.

          Seriously, Palin was like 1-1,000,000. How many people in the lower 48 had even heard of her?

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

            And how did that turn out for us? I predict 2012 is a more traditional horse race than 2008…by a mile. Conventional VP pick by a conventional candidate.

    • David Kaiser, Editor

      Someone with some foreign policy cred makes sense to me.

      General David Petreus?

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

        Petreus would be interesting, especially if Romney were the nominee.

        • Red State Eddio

          Romney-Petraus would be a serious booty kicker of a combination.

          • Gary Russell

            But I’d take Huckabee- Norris in the cage match, ’cause Chuck Norris can whoop anybody!

            • Red State Eddio

              If Chuck Norris started a conservative version of ACORN…we’d be seeing 90+% voter TURNOUT, not just registration.

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

    Apologies for the site being down for a white there.

    Had some strange issues when the template was updated. Thanks for your patience!

    • Kristen

      Phew! I was a little worried, but then figured there were just some technical difficulties.

    • Shawn Naegle

      I thought it might be the North Koreans.

    • East of Eden

      My computer crashed this morning, so I thought the wonky template issues were its fault. Glad they’re not! :)

  • Kristen

    Romney can almost sit back and relax. It seems his ‘competition’ is killing its own political careers right and left (no pun intended). Jindal did it for me with his lackluster speech that came across as amateurish and simple-minded. But this is politics: Anything is possible!

  • Clint

    I agree with most of this. Mitt is certainly in the best position. I think I might would put Pawlenty in here over Jindal since Pawlenty has announced he is not running for Governor again, but they are probably on about equal ground. I would say Gingrich, Barbour, Jindal and Pawlenty are in all tied for 4th and 5th.