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


Forget what you’ve read, Mittens is the real winner in the Scott Brown Cinderella Story. Romney and Romney’s operatives played a major role in Brown’s campaign, and what could look better for Romney than the hottest young Republican in the party standing up a year from now and saying “I support Mitt Romney for President”. Right now, only the endorsements of Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater’s creepy Avatars would be a bigger coup for Willard.

2 Sarah

The good news for Palin is that she now has a major platform on Fox News and hours and hours of face time with voters between now and 2012. The bad news is that she now has a major platform on FoxNews and hours and hours of face time with voters between now and 2012 — and every single minute of every single hour will be on video. What are the chances she doesn’t say something bizarro that will sink her campaign before it starts?

3 Tim

What can you say about Paw? He’s still a guy people seem to like, but he really isn’t doing much to shake the perception that he’s just too – uh – vanilla. Not that there’s anything wrong with vanilla. But half-a-bottle of chocolate sauce and some crushed nuts really livens up a scoop of the stuff. Pawlenty needs to find his chocolate sauce and nuts before a candidate like Butter Pecan or Rocky Road make him an afterthought in the back of the freezer.

4 Mike
Huck’s no longer got the market cornered as candidate-turned-Fox-News-Host-turned-potential-candidate, not with Palin’s new contract and incredible visibility with Fox. True, Huck is leading the way in a lot of the early polls, but there appears to be an enthusiasm gap. Need proof? Google ‘Huckabee 2012? and you’ll find 809K results. But Google ‘Pants on the Ground’ and you’ll find over 40 million. That’s the kind of analysis you just don’t get from Rove or Sabato.


The once and future senators seem to be opposite ends of the spectrum. Santorum was a leader in the GOP during much of Dubbya’s administration, but was cast aside in the backlash of 2006. Brown is the current darling of the Republican party, winning a seat that just two months ago seemed un-winnable for any Republican. Ricky has baggage, but at least has actually admitted to considering a run. Scotty has no experience on the national stage and no apparent interest, but more buzz than a Kennedy Boys Night Out and the look of a GOP centerfold. Nevertheless, if forced to split horse hairs, Ricky gets a slight edge because one would surmise that Brown won’t bite the hand that helped feed him a seat in the Senate. At least not in 2012.


  • http://www.uggsusa-outlet.com The North Face

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  • Neil Braithwaite

    To some extent you are right. However, America must get its financial and economic house in order and in that case, we need someone with that kind of proven experience. So they probably won’t bow to other leaders – or mayors. And maybe they won’t even hire admitted socialists or communists. They might not even lie on tape eight times and think they can get away with it. But I bet you they will do what is necessary to fix our country. If I have to put up with a little executive ego, and by that I mean real executive, then so be it.

    Give them four years and see what happens.

    We can’t do any worse than we have now.

  • Neil Braithwaite

    Please – How about someone who has NEVER been in politics or held political office?

    If this economy stays in a hole, and it probably will, it may be the perfect time for a CEO of some “still” profitable company to throw a hat in the ring and save America.

    It will be like America hires a specialist to fix the economic problems.

    Well? Names anyone?

    OK, I’ll start.

    Fred Smith of FedEx

    Your turn.

    • Red State Eddio

      Neil – How about the CEO of Whole Foods? (Can’t remember his name) I liked his approach to health care. His plan is certainly better than the Beltway Boondoggle.

      • Neil Braithwaite

        John Mackey. Yes. It’s business people like him that would bring real solutions to the table.

        We’re in an economy right now where “Peter Principle” politicians are in over their heads.

        BHO – case in point!

    • Whodat


      Me thinks you focus only on the smart and proven business accumen of business professionals. Fair assumption, but it would not transfer to running a government of FREE PEOPLE, living within democratic and republican principles.

      Corporations are not democratic. They offer no representation at the table to their employees. They are autocratic dictatorships who can fire those who do not agree and reward those who do. CEOs have to please a board, and nobody else, but they can offer neat perks for yes-men and pain for those who do not get in line. There is no corporation which has a “policies and proceedures” manual that would resemble our Constitution in any way.

      Bottom Line: Most CEOs could not function with people debating him, disagreeing and yelling at him and voting against him. He would be carried out on his shield, whinning like a small child, and wishing he were back in his safe and warm little cacoon – where all his subjects bow, and scrape, and agree, and smile and meet most problems with a hand-chosen committee to consider.

      Corporations are no place from which to draw an effective political leader of a free people. Corporations are more like banana republics where only the inner circle wins.

      Whodat been there, left the office with a window and the nice wooden desk. Life there sucks.

    • Brian H

      Not going to happen……I hope. Not time for amateur hour…the sequal. We need a person who is experienced in business and govt. Besides, the economy may be issue #1 right now but I fear that it too will be pushed aside in the next few years as the legit terror threats begin are exposed and executed.

  • Red State Eddio

    I’m still wondering if any of the fresh faces I’ve seen – Thune, Barbour, Pence, Coburn, or Ryan – could be in the hunt a year from now. Thune and Barbour are the biggest names from the largest arenas (gov and senate), but you never know these days.

  • Brian H

    Paul Krugman is such a dope. Economist? I would not let that guy anywhere near my wallet.

  • Brian H

    I am not sure what people expect here? Ronald Reagan was not a “sure thing” when he ran in 1980? I think there are some really god horses in this field, actually. I know how easy it is to be a cynic on these matters but if we are waiting for the next “One” blow our minds and unite us all in a fadish frenzy of jubilation its not going to happen. Candidates enter the field, take their shot, make mistakes, and eventually one will prevail. How quickly we forget that McCain (bad candidate) actually ran fairly strong against Obama’s historic campaign, finishing way ahead of the Republican brand. My point is that Obama, like any candidate is beatable. The GOP has a strong field and I believe the the best candidate will win.

  • Rick B.

    Speaking of Fox News commentators…

    Did anyone see Roger Ailes on Barbara Walters’ show this morning? That was fun.

  • Troy La Mana

    If a candidate wanted to impress me starting today, they would put themselves out there each time the Obamanation spoke and let the people know how they would tackle the issue differently. Not only that, but explain why the opposition was wrong and how they would adversely effect this country. No Spin and no lectures. Just tell the folks in plain English how to eliminate the deficit, bring back jobs and cut your taxes while keeping the defense strong. Tell me you would raise the pay of all the military so they don’t have to be on welfare and food stamps. Tell me you would build new homes and apartments for our troops and their families. New hospitals for our wounded and Vets. Rebuild the infrastructure instead of propping up failed businesses. Use the returned bailout money to refinance mortgages with 0% loans. Build solar, wind and geothermal farms where possible. Build nuclear reprocessing plants instead of trying to bury the waste in a hole that isn’t geologically sound.

    In short: Tell America that it’s time to face reality instead of trying to build Camelot.

    • Whodat

      That’s it, Troy my Mana! Attack Barack. Idea Bomb-ah Obama. When he says anything, offer the alternative to everything.

      And, not just in words, enter another bill in Congress where possible. Become the Anti-O.
      (Actually, Sarah Barracuda comes close, but I can’t see that all the way through…)

      Mitt just sits. And smiles. And says his family will decide. I don’t want a Pres who asks his wife if he can run. I want some fire and passion and macho get ‘er done swagger. Not a wussy, whimpy, “my family will decide” – puke!!!!!!!!!

  • Whodat

    Huckabee must mean “waste of time and space and energy” in some language somewhere. How can he still be on any list?

    I wish I could find a way to like Mitt. I can’t put my finger on why I can’t trust him, other than not believing that there could be a true conservative politician from Massachusetts or that his real support is so thin that he must spend his own fortune… I dunno, but no…

    Sarah stirs my blood and I love her show. But, I don’t think so….

    The rest are the rest and rather boring at best.

    Maybe I’m still looking for a doer and not just a talker…

    • Rusty Shackleford


      Not overly poetic, but you read my mind (granted that’s a short trip). This whole uninspiring crop is making me long for the days of Bob Dole (yuk).

      Mitt has my radar up as well, and mostly it’s because I don’t think he can win the South. His Morman faith is going to be an issue yet again, and he still comes across as a “Nor-Eastern Moderate”. I think his health care catastrophy will again rear it’s head and he will have a hard time defending that, especially if Obama care get’s defeated for good before the elections.

      Huck’s “Willy Horton” moment isn’t forgotten either.

      Just to napalm this whole thing, I would like to throw Hillary running as a Republican. I know it’s impossible, but right now, this list to me looks impossible.

      • Whodat

        Hillary running as a Republican? Wow!

        You remind me of an old phrase from my college days in the 60s, “I hate it when somebody has drugs and they don’t share.”

        Not that I would remember what that meant – I don’t remember a lot about the 60s, but the saying somehow seems appropriate here.

        Well, gotta go. Suddenly, I’m in a mood to listen to my Gratefull Dead album and watch my lava lamp…

        • German Observer

          “I hate it when somebody has drugs and they don’t share.”

          Hey, you display an unassumed extent of communist thinking!

          • Red State Eddio

            Touche! Nice call.

  • revjf

    I don’t understand how this Web site always seems to pick Mitt Romney as the frontrunner. There is obviously some bias on the part of politicalderby.com. We need conservative leadership in this country. Mitt wavers and wobbles with the wind. I’m for Huckabee and according to most of the polls I’ve seen so are the majority of Republicans. John Thune or Scott Brown would be my number two pick. I think a Huckabee/Thune or Huckabee/Scott ticket would be great.

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

      What don’t you understand about it? He hasn’t always been the front runner, but he clearly is now. You’ll certainly find me and others on record as saying he’s hardly the perfect candidate.

      And time to double check your polls, Huck is fading:


      An inside source at Fox tells me it’s unlikely he even runs. He’s making lots of money and enjoying his Fox gig tremendously.

      • revjf

        Okay Jason…What I don’t understand about this Web site always picking Mitt Romney as the frontrunner is the fact that he has not always been shown to be the frontrunner in polls! I’m still looking for a poll that shows him in the lead. Even when Huckabee was the frontrunner you had Mitt at the top. In the very poll you cited in your reply to me, Palin is shown as the frontrunner, not Romney. By the way, you only cited one recent poll. Rasmussen just reported that of all GOP candidates, Huckabee is the only one who would now beat Obama in a national election. Check the polls yourself. As for your insider at Fox, you should know by now that politicians always appear to probably not be running just before they jump in the race. I don’t buy it.

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

          Could you please provide a link to the recent Rasmussen poll you cite showing Huckabee in the lead? The most recent I can find is October. Is that really the one you’re going by? That was *before* his parolee, Maurice Clemmons, murdered four police officers in WA.

          As for Huckabee not being ranked in the lead here at PD, he was #1 two years ago this month after Iowa.

          As for Palin polling better than Romney, that’s generally true, but she polls the worst among the general population and her negatives are the highest–by a mile. A CBS poll released two weeks ago said 71% of Americans don’t want her to run for president at all.

          Oh, and the Rasmussen poll you reference that says Huckabee is the only one who could beat Obama? That’s actually not a Rasmussen poll, it’s from “Public Policy Polling”, an outfit affiliated with the democratic party.

          • revjf

            Jason…I stand corrected. You are right that the poll I cited as Rasmussen is a Public Policy Polling result. Sorry. However, I don’t see how you can cite having Huckabee in the number 1 position 2 years ago when we are talking about the 2012 race. In November 2009 a USA Today/Gallup Poll had Huckabee in first place. Who did you have at #1? None other than Mitt Romney. Just admit it — Romney is your guy!

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

              I referenced the ’08 rankings to counter any thought I’m biased against Huckabee and pro-Romney at all costs.

              As for Romney being my guy, you need to go back through the site and read what I’d written about him. He’s hardly a perfect candidate, and he’s hardly “my guy”. Of the current *likely* choices, he’s my first choice.

              The reality from talking to people in politics in DC, people who do this for a living, is that Romney is widely viewed as the frontrunner today. Thus the ranking. The state of the economy and Romney economic skills have a lot to do with that, of course.

              I have a hunch Huckabee could be YOUR guy because you’re an evangelical, or come from that community at least. (Rev Jerry Falwell anyone?)

              • revjf

                Jason my point is you had Romney at the top of the list in November 2009 when Huckabee was leading in the polls. You admit that of the *likely* candidates Mitt is your first pick — okay — he’s your guy. You are correct that I am an evangelical and am quite pleased with my Savior, Jesus Christ, and believe every word He taught. You are also correct that Huck is my guy. I think I made that clear in my first entry. As for the Jerry Falwell reference — uncalled for. I make no apologies for loving the Lord and serving Him. Scoff if you will.

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

                Easy now, revjf. I didn’t scoff, just drawing conclusions. I, too, am a Christian and proudly so. I’ve just learned that most die-hard Huckabee fans come from the evangelical movement. Nothing more.

                Keep an eye on the rankings as 2012 approaches. If Huckabee deserves to move up, whether I care for him or not, he will. Think it was easy ranking Hillary so high for so long? ;)

            • Brian H

              Rev. The Derby is a “snapshot”, taking into consideration may factors, including polling. Mitt is a clear morning line favorite right now because of his name recognition, wealth, organization, etc. etc. The rankings are not a predictors to future events and circumstances. Its like gambling odds. In fact, if you were to look at likely GOP winners according to gambling handicappers you will see that Mitt is in front among the the real life betters. Not an endorsement, just an observation.

  • Troy La Mana

    You do know if Romney runs that effectively means you have taken the whole Health Care Reform fiasco off the table right?

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

      I disagree, it’s still early (duh) but I think Romney will have plenty of time to make the case that was they passed was a bipartisan bill that after he left town went downhill. It’s all about spin, and I think his team will create an apples & oranges argument that sells.

      • Troy La Mana

        I want someone to accept responsibility and own up for the mistakes they have made, not spew “spin”.

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

          Troy, I agree with you. The spin makes me nuts. I’m just countering your belief he won’t be a “viable” candidate.

          Personally I’m for Sanford. Go Mark!

          • German Observer

            Jason, you favour Sandfort? Haven’t you been the one, who was most disappointed after his little mountain-tour last year?

            • Gary Russell

              My friend G.O.,
              I believe that Jason’s tongue was planted firmly in his cheek when he made that last comment!

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

                Yep ;)

  • Tracey

    Romney is the best. He will make Washington work again. We needed him in 2008 and by 2012, he will be our only hope.


    Mitt Romney not only is a brilliant business man, he will also prove to be a brilliant political strategist. By 2012, He will have several favors to collect, in ALL THE RIGHT PLACES.

    ROMNEY / DeMINT in 2012!

  • Brian H

    Great Job on the handicapping! I think you guys nailed it on this one.

    What about Pence? Does the fact he has refused to challenge Evan Bayh for the Senate seat mean he may enter the 2012 Stakes Classic?

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

      Pence is interesting, but House members have a very tough road to the nomination, much less the Big House. I don’t see it happening.

      • Brian H

        True. I don’t believe we have ever elected a POTUS straight from the house, have we?

        • David Kaiser, Editor

          James Garfield was a House member from Ohio when elected President. I believe he is the only sitting member of the House elected to the Oval.

  • Troy La Mana

    RomneyCare automatically removes Mitt as a viable candidate. At this point I don’t think the real candidate has show his/her face but will start making inroads after November.

    I like what McDonnel and Brown have said but they need seasoning for me to take them seriously.

    Ron Paul or Kyle or Coburn would be on my list. Anyone who runs on a platform of eliminating every single unconstitutional program and unfunded mandate would get my vote. If they tell us that on day one they would sign an Executive Order eliminating the Department of Education and Department of Energy I’m there.

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

      Troy, I think you’re dreaming if you think “RomneyCare” removes him as a viable candidate. In fact I KNOW you’re dreaming, because you’ve never liked Romney ;-)

      • Troy La Mana

        It doesn’t mean I’m bias. I could care less about his religion but flip-flopping on issues and instituting RomneyCare are all I need to move on to the next candidate.

        I wouldn’t think twice about not voting for 99% of the people who ran last time. The only person I could lean towards probably won’t run anyway.

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

          Troy, who said anything about his religion?

          • Troy La Mana

            I was commenting about the 2008 campaign and not you in particular. Sorry if you misunderstood.

  • Lightning in Colorado

    Stupid… Brown ran against ObamaCare in which RomneyCare is the prototype. He was not visible during the campaign because of that.

    No Obamacare No Romneycare!

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

    Ice cream analogies are NOT right when some of us are off sugar!! Seriously!

    As for the rankings…

    Mitt is still number on in my book. And I think after the disaser that the next three years are going to be we will need some one to come in and fix us.

    I like Palin, but not as POTUS. I think she would make a great Secy of Energy from her experience in dealing with the oil compaines in Alaska. She knows her energy policy.

    Timmy P, I just don’t see him getting into the fray.

    Please say no to Huckabee…and FOX please cancel his show…holy cow, I’d rather watch Olberman than Huck.

    I think Scott Brown is going to stay in the senate, at least for a while. And I like Santorum I really do. It will be interesting to see where he ends up.

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

    Alaina, fair point on Bob in VA. He should be added. I think he’s tough to elect nationally, but he deserves a spot.

    Alex, agreed. The rankings really are a snapshot of today, not a prediction of who will win. Although I think Brown could argue his way around the “one term” issue pretty well, given our current President.

    • Alaina Segovia

      Or not… if Obama continues to crash and burn, what’s the best excuse? He was inexperienced, had never held an executive position and just wasn’t ready as a less than one term Senator.

  • Alex Hornaday

    You know, with regards to Palin, Brown and McDonnell, I don’t like, and I don’t think I’ll be alone when I say this, that in 2012 none of them will have completed a full term in an appropriate office. Save Brown and McDonnell for 2020 (or if necessary 2016) and keep Palin on TV.

    My money’s on Mitt.

  • Alaina

    Bob McDonnell should at least be an honorable mention, if not a solid 5th place.

    He won Virginia in a land slide after it being carried by Obama by 8 points, if I recall correctly, he ran a solid campaign, his SOTU reponse for the GOP was very good in my opinion, and I can’t recall seeing any naked pictures of him or hearing rumors of an affair.