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

Mitt
Romney

Romney’s approval index is +12%, a number he never sniffed during his 2008 run and he’s in or near the lead in most polls for the 2012 GOP nomination. Recently the Democrats are bashing him as if it’s 2011, a sure sign they see him as a threat. Still, until he clears a few ’08 cobwebs, namely accusations of flip-flopping and the giant albatross that was “RomneyCare”, Mitt remains a very vulnerable front runner.

2 Sarah
Palin

She’s on Facebook. She’s on Twitter. She’s on MooseHunters.com. Palin’s gone more viral than the Swine Flu. Tearing pages from the Obama playbook, the hockey mom has taken her message to the fabulous interweb, stirring up debate while curled up on a couch with her laptop. The only problem? 65% of Americans don’t feel she has the ability to be an effective candidate, including 51% of Republicans. If that doesn’t turn around in the next twelve months, her 2012 campaign could be the biggest bust since Meghan McCain’s Twittergate.

3 Mike
Huckabee

There’s little doubt he’ll run again, but plenty of doubt about his ability to win. He could be dangerous in Iowa and South Carolina, but that’s where his 2008 campaign essentially ended. But no one told Huckabee, and many saw his over-stay in the campaign as a way to siphon just enough votes from personal nemesis Mitt Romney to hand the nomination to John McCain. Money was also a major issue for Huckabee last time around the track, which may explain all those commercials during his show featuring the little stack of money with googly eyes.

4 Tim
Pawlenty
Shoots from unranked to 4th, due primarily to his highly publicized decision to birth his very own bouncing baby political action committee and his hyperactive national schedule. Toss in the fact that he’s been collecting former Bush and McCain campaign operatives like Obama collects Marxist Czars, and it seems obvious the recovering mullet-wearer, soon-to-be-ex-governor-of-a-swing-state is running full throttle.
5

Rick
Santorum

How does a guy who lost his reelection bid to the senate get ranked? For one he’s actually admitted to considering a run, which is more than Jindal or Barbour can say. Good: Santorum was once high in GOP leadership and known for his effective, confrontational style, which might be just what one needs to take on Obama. Bad: He lost his US Senate seat by 17 percentage points to a man with a uni-brow. Yikes.

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