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


For the first time in over year, we have a new horse at the top. Palin-backed candidates have cleaned up in the spring primary season and her appearances at Tea Party rallies generate more buzz and pop than Justin Beiber on a Red Bull binge. The criticism of her resigning as Alaska's governor has faded and she skillfully turned stalkerneighborgate into a positive. Perhaps this quote from her keynote address at the Tea Party Convention earlier this year best sums up her rise to the top of the PD rankings: "How's that hopey-changey stuff workin' out for ya?"


Mitt's fall from the top spot isn't just about Palin, it's also tied to passage of Obama's health care plan. Mitt's own version, RomneyCare(tm), signed, sealed and delivered during his watch in Massachusetts, bears a striking resemblance to the new federal law of the land. While only true political junkies know that now, expect his opponents for the 2012 nod to spend millions educating the rest of us. Ironic that his most significant achievement during his last job could be the one that prevents him from getting the job he really wants.

3 Mike

Yes we know, Huckabee has said he isn't planning on running. But one day he's not running, the next he's asking to be included in favorability polls in Iowa. Somehow he makes Brett Favre look decisive. Still, the fact remains that Huck fared the best among the potential candidates in a June 12 poll that pitted him against Obama and he topped a May 12 Fox News poll as the top GOP candidate in 2012. PD still isn't convinced he'll run, but in the current snapshot, he's our show horse.

Newt is the guy/girl in college you had a secret crush on. Sure, you've heard rumors about a salacious past and you doubt they're marriage material. But you're willing to look past that because they flirt so well. Admit it, you know it's a long shot, but if you're a conservative, something about Newt sends a thrill up your leg. You love how he thinks, what he says, and how he operates, politically speaking. But Newt's private life makes some shudder, and his personal history won't play well in the conservative heartland. Then again, this country elected Bill Clinton - twice.


That is not a misprint, Paulites. Lay down your weapons; your guy is finally ranked for 2012. We still don't see him winning the nomination, but PD and other pundits cannot deny that as one of the inspirations of the Tea Party movement, Paul still carries a lot of clout. He'll surely be visible during his son's campaign for senate, and if Rand wins, the Paul family will have a mini-dynasty in the making and a seat at the Iowa/New Hampshire tableā€¦ If they want it.


  • Dana

    Lets see Rick Perry on this list!

  • Mike

    Its still about who can run the economy out of this disaster. Mitt is #1, Newt is #2. ‘

  • Warren Malach

    In my humble opinion, the “dream team” for the Republicans in 2012 would be Gov. Bobby Jindal (LA) and either Rep. Marsha Blackburn (TN) or Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN.) The Republicans need to counter the Democrats’ use of NEWER candidates who are minority and/or women by demonstrating that there are CONSERVATIVE Republican candidates who are minority or women. The candidates at the top of the current list are “old news,” and, I believe, not viable against Obama unless even WORSE things happen to the country before 2012.

  • Charolette

    RUN SARAH RUN !!!! SEE YOU IN 2012 !!! :)

  • Dan Fitzgerald

    Gary Johnson will come out of nowhere and win it all.

    • Americanist

      I have met Gary Johnson and he is a very nice guy who I think we can trust to tell the people the truth and who has a proven track record as a Governor.
      Since he is an “outsider” and won’t play ball with the Republicratic machine the MSM will give little attention and pooh-pooh him as a candidate. Fox News will join in and be squarely behind the do nothing Republican neo-con/RINO choice they helped to get there.
      Reagan was Bushwacked and we have suffered ever since. May we all be wise enough not to fall into the same trap!!!

  • Jeff Day

    The ticket to win isn’t mentioned here. But for my $$ it is My Man Mitch @ the top with LA governor Mr Jindahl as VP

    Jeff Day
    Evansville, IN

    • Americanist

      Mitch who?

  • Joe

    It is great to see Ron Paul crack the top five. But, if Rand wins his Senate race, you may have the wrong Paul in your power rankings.

    Ron will be 77 by the time of the 2012 election. He’s in great physical and mental shape for his age, but the calendar is a considerable drawback for his chances.

    On the other hand, Rand Paul would have basically the same amount of experience in the Senate that Obama had when he was elected (very little), but that didn’t hold the current POTUS back from running and winning.

    They do live in different states so a Paul/Paul ticket (in either order) is not out of the question.

  • Dana

    Rick Perry!!!!

    • Whodat

      TTC Rick Perry?
      Big spending, record spending Rick Perry?
      Forced medical treatment on women Rick Perry?
      Big rent Rick Perry?

      Maybe I am thinking of the wrong Rick Perry. Do you know a conservative, responsible Rick Perry? I only know the worthless, big spending, land-grabbing, empty-suited Rick Perry who is governor of Texas…

  • Joy LeCount

    Palin and Pence has a nice ring to it! That is a team I could support. A Hoosier Republican

  • Brian H

    What about the Dem match race?

    1. Obama – Still the POTUS but losing confidence and energy from the drones who followed his “hope ands change” rhetoric. His freshness has faded.

    2. Hillary – Carville’s attack on Obama for the oil spill was a shot across the bow, followed by Hill’s comment in an interview where she exposed that the “Obama administration” will be bringing suit against Arizona for its immigration law. Look for Hill to break from the admin within a few months and the race will be on!!!!!

    • Whodat

      Agree with you 100%. I have believed that within days of a big Democrat loss in November, Hillary will get the secret gnomes setting things up for her, by New Year’s a “leak” will be letting us know and getting the pundits juices flowing like Niagara – she will, of course deny it, but by perhaps the Ides of March – Et tu Thighmaster! The rumor becomes a “call by the people”. Oh joy, oh rapture, she will rise, the people will weep with joy, small children will skip gayly through the streets throwing rose petals and I… I… I will leave for the golf course, as usual…

  • Rick Hendrix

    I think this is a really good list. Yes, Sarah is riding high right now and deserves the #1 ranking. And I agree that RomneyCare is Mitt’s Achilles heel. I don’t know if Huck is going to run, but I hope he doesn’t. I DO think Newt is going to run, and I have mixed emotions about that.

    Ron Paul deserves the listing and is definitely on the track. I admire him for his pro-Constitution and pro-free market views, but he will not win the Republican nomination with his foreign policy views. Won’t happen. Some of his supporters also cost him support last time and may again if he can’t reign them in (and I don’t think he can).

    I also hope DeMint runs. If we re-take the majority in the House, I doubt Pence will run in 2012. He’s a client and I will support him if he does, but I suspect he’ll stay in the House if he’s in the majority (I have NO inside information on that. Just my opinion.)

    It’s starting to get interesting!

  • Whodat

    What a nice surprise to find good-ol’SARAH
    At the top of the heap of our wanna-bees!
    She’s certainly been way out front in workin’
    Up the troops and electing those “Tea-Parties”.

    She’s a pot-stirring, adorable, revolutionary
    Who stands up, shouts out – I wish we had
    Many more like her to fire folks up – If
    We did, I bet things wouldn’t now be so bad.

    ROMNEY? I gotta ask, “Where you been, boy?”
    The press not covering you? Or, you just not
    Covering the issues with ideas and FIRE and
    Time and miles? You bein’cool? Sarah be hot!

    The rest? Forgetaboutit! NEWT, the Tiger Woods
    Of conservatism? His chances, “Newtered” been.
    HUCKABEE? Highest rated weekend show? Really?
    What did the test pattern score? He can’t win.

    RON PAUL, a Harold Stassen reincarnation dude;
    Gives “15 minutes” a bad name; Way overdue for
    An exit strategy hisself, along with “Truthers”,
    “Birthers” and Flat-Earthers, dopers and more…

    None of the rest are worth a mention. Maybe they
    Once gave a good speech, or made a good point…
    Maybe they scored high on some convervative test,
    But, that ain’t reason enough for us to annoint!

    Whodat still agnostic on the lot, but still Hopeful that a real leader will emerge to take Charge – not only of conservative election wins,
    But, of all needs to return our USA to GREAT!

  • Stephanie

    What a pleasant surprise – PD has Ron Paul on the track. The desire to restore the republic and return to a constitutional government is sweeping across the country. Ron Paul has led the charge for states rights, limited government, a non-interventionist foreign policy and sound monetary policy. His Campaign for Liberty is an extremely powerful movement – I wouldn’t underestimate it.

    • rjlf

      Ron Paul is 74 years old. It ain’t gonna happen.

  • Liz


  • Andrew Long

    Overall, pretty good. Expect either Newt or Huck to run though…(maybe not both). If neither run, expect them to play kingmaker and endorse a winning candidate. A true full-spectrum conservative (in other words not Romney) will win, and I don’t expect it to be Palin. I think this one will be over quick though, coronation and all.

    What’s this about Huck’s show being unwatchable…only the highest rated weekend news program…that’s all. Biased any?

    I’ve grown to love most of what Ron Paul stands for, but the man himself is unelectable. Nonetheless, viva la Tea Party! Viva Life, Liberty, & The Pursuit Of Virtue!

    I’m still hoping Demint runs…

    • David Kaiser, Editor

      Andrew, I agree with you about the Newt/Huck scenario, one of the runs, the other won’t. Still not sure who is who.

      But about the “Biased any?” comment.

      PD is not a news site. It has never been a news site. It will never be a news site. We are a blog, and as such we are expressing opinions. What you call “bias” I call our opinion.

      If you don’t like it, feel free to post your objection, but I, for one, don’t feel its fair to call it bias when we really never claimed to be “fair and balanced,” unlike some other “news” sources. That goes for both sides of the political spectrum.

      That said, two of the three PD editors think that Huck won’t run, yet we included him in the Power Rankings. If we were “biased” against him, why would we include him since he’s said he’s “not running.”

      That aside, thanks for the input!

      • Andrew Long

        Thanks for the response David. I’m a lot more phlegmatic than I used to be…I don’t care what you put. Bias and opinion are nearly synonymous, opinion is inherent in bias & opinion expressed in favor or disfavor without a regard to objectivity is bias. But you can call it opinion if you’d like =).

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

      For starters, we didn’t say anything about Huck’s ratings, just that WE find it unwatchable :) The whole “Bill Clinton join the band” thing at the end of each show is, as my kids would say, “awkwaaaaaaard.”

      It’s a fair point though and a bit of a cheap shot, so I killed the joke.

      I’ll defer to David’s comment on the larger issue of bias v opinion. Obviously I think they’re more different than you do.

  • rjlf

    I think for now you are dead on with the rankings. However, I would say when we get into the thick of things in months/years to come, the list will look something like this:
    1. Sarah Palin
    2. Mitt Romney
    3. Mike Pence
    4. Tim Pawlenty
    5. Haley Barbour

    I don’t think Huck or Newt will run. Huck is making too much money and has the visibility he wants with his TV show. Newt is just selling more books.

    Knowing the Republican Party’s history, I’d predict that runner-ups Palin or Romney will be the nominee and Mike Pence will be pick for VP.