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 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

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

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
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.


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.


  • Whodat

    Au CONTRAR, I do protest, Say Nay I Do to all of the above sum,
    All came and went, effort spent
    With exception of Rick Santorum.

    Where is JOE WILSON on this list?
    Who can find he braver than Joe!
    And what of PETER KING of New York?
    Holding rightly brave at lib’l foe.

    Hold on the retreads and wanna-bees
    And those who have not been brave;
    Give me a proven warrior and right
    Conservative, our GOP to save.

    Whodat not sneers, but snors at this incomplete list

    • David Kaiser, Editor

      Whodat – Remember, this is a snapshot of how things are now. I understand that Wilson and King are two of your personal favorites, there is no indication that either of them is even considering a run for President.

      Just the way we see it.

      • Whodat

        Well excuuuuuuuuuuuse me!
        But I do not think any of yo list
        Has yet declared thier candidacy,
        Or, was there something I missed?

        Your list is old, its yesterday’s
        List, these are not fresh steeds;
        They’re partially lame or tired or
        Just slow: Not what America needs.

        So, please let us common bloggers
        Place OUR choice in nomination,
        Then let all support or scorn or Say who is best for our nation.

        Whodat say power to the people!

  • Rick B.

    What, you guys didn’t include Dede Scozzafava on your list of contenders?

  • Tenn Joe

    WE need a competent grownup with the economic smarts to get this country out of the finantial hole Obama is digging.

    As of now, Romney looks , talks and thinks like a real President should.

    He’ll be first on my list till someone can convince me they would be better.

    • Troy La Mana

      Steve Forbes?

      • David Kaiser, Editor

        Forbes?!? Presidential?!?

        Did you watch him run last time?

        They didn’t call him “Robo-dork” for nothing!

        • Brian H

          So right you are, David.

          I like Forbes for his eco skills but the guy is has the charima of the taliking Potus at Disney.

  • Tenn Joe

    WE need a competent grownup with the economic smarts to get this country out of the finantial hole Obama is digging.

    As of now, Romney looks , talks and thinks like a real President should.

    He’ll be first on my list till someone can covince me they would be better.

  • Brian H

    I’m with you, Kristen. If I had to vote today it would be Mitt.

  • Brian H

    Nice work, PD.

    I agree with the rankings based the current trends, but, I do believe that Pawlenty will past Huck significantly in thr primaries.

    Where is the 2012 DNC rankings? I would have Hillary at #1.

  • kristen

    I’m liking DeMint and Pence more and more. I’d put them up there.

    I’m still a Romney fan. If anything, he should be touting the failure of Romneycare to blast this healthcare bill and gain more credibility among voters. We need someone who has actually run something and knows a thing or two about economics.

    No more Obama-lites!

  • Rick Hendrix

    I also agree that Romney’s biggest challenge will be RomneyCare.

    • http://www.yourblogmall.blogspot.com Sartho

      I’m still shocked that Romney hasn’t totally been thrown under the bus by somebody over Romney care. The demos can use it to destroy their biggest enemy at the moment and the repubs can use it to destroy the nightmare legislation in Congress but we have hardly heard a peep about it from anyone. Who’s going to take the first real shot at Romneycare???

  • Rick Hendrix

    I have to agree with the top 3, but I think there’s a big gap between 3rd and 4th. I still don’t get the Pawlenty thing, but I think he helped himself with his endorsement of Hoffman. (And I agree that Newt shot himself in the foot…or higher.)

    I like Santorum, but too many conservatives still remember his endorsement of Specter over Toomey.

    I just finished reading Jim DeMint’s book, Saving Freedom. Any of you Reaganites should read it. If he decides to run, he’ll be at the top of my list to support. Also Mike Pence.

  • Clint

    At this point, Romney has to be everyone’s #1. I would have Pawlenty in 2nd because he doesn’t have any of the negatives of Palin or Santorum. Huckabee still struggles with broan appeal.
    I just cant include Santorum because of the big loss in the senate bid.

    1. Romney
    2. Pawlenty
    3. Palin
    4. Huckabee
    5. Gingrich

    • Clint

      broan = broad

  • Alaina Segovia

    I agree with the rankings, but I’m not excited at all.

    It will be interesting to watch Pawlenty. The more I see him, the more I like him.

    I have to agree with O’Reilly and Beck… Palin’s book tour will make or break her.

  • Troy La Mana

    Amen EoE,

    Newt must have been knocked in the head to make that endorsement. Fred rises in my rankings for making the right choice early in that contest.

    I grudgingly accept these rankings but I will NEVER vote for mittens.

    • http://twitter.com/theatomicmom East of Eden

      What was really funny was that he was on FOx this weekend, I can’t remember which show, trying to explain away the endorsement after she dropped out. He just couldn’t do it. Which says to me that he still cares for for the R after the name than the name and person that, that R follows.

  • http://twitter.com/theatomicmom East of Eden

    Bless Kaiser and his beloved Phillies that they will beat the Skankies….amen.

    Ok…I agree with these rankings. here is my other take…Newt lost all cred with me when he endorced Socazzafava or whateverhername was in NY23….come on! Lost his principles much? And if he and his people call me again at dinner time it’s going to get ugly, as if the screamin baby in the back ground wasn’t enough clue I don’t want to donate $100 to his whatever…

  • http://www.sotr.us Cordeiro

    I can’t argue with the power rankings logic. I think Huckabee’s campaign will be short lived because by the time 2012 rolls around there will be little time or patience for his folksy silliness.

    I’m curious what Kaiser thinks though. Can anyone talk him off the ledge before the Phillies take the field?

    • David Kaiser, Editor

      I actually had Huck lower in my personal rankings, and I don’t see him as a guy that will win the nomination. That said, the rankings are a snapshot of how we see the race right now, so it is hard to put him lower than third.

      He also has a solid base in Iowa, which catapulted him into contention in 2008. They could do the same in 2012, and this time, if he has enough money and structure in place, he could be in a better position to to capitalize.