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
1

Sarah
Palin

Sarah’s good summer could turn into a fantastic fall, depending on how Palin-backed candidates fair in the general elections. The most well-known is Delaware’s Christine O’Donnell, whose upset victory over the very popular Mike Castle was a jaw-dropper. The bad news for Palin? O’Donnell is down so far in the polls, she’s going to need the Chilean Phoenix capsule just to get even with opponent Chris Coons. Still, Sarah runs at the head of the track because of her endorsement record thus far, her national visibility, and her Tea Party cred.

Mitt
Romney

Yah, yah. We know. He’s not conservative enough. He isn’t doing much to help the GOP with the mid-term elections. His real name is Willard. But Romney has history and money on his side. The history, of course, is the GOP rewarding the loyal and the money appears to never run dry for the generous self-funder. The speculation is that short of smarmy text messages, a steamy mistress in some steamier South American country, or having a “macaca moment”, Romney will be a sure-bet front-runner. Could it be Mitt is privately willing the economy in the toilet so he can flex those business muscles on the trail?

3 Mewt
Gingabee

Imagine a candidate with Newt’s brain and conservative credentials and Frankenstein that to Huckabee’s moral compass and aw-shucks appeal. Now you’ve got a candidate that might just be unbeatable. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a good Frankenstein movie since Mel Brooks, and most Republicans would frown upon gene splicing and cloning, so we’re stuck with these two separately. Sure, Newt has made more passes at a campaign than Brett Favre has thrown at receivers or massage therapists, but this time he looks serious. Huck’s desire, considering the Fox News gig and his relocation to Florida, is less obvious. The latter is either a signal he’s out, or that he’s dusted off the old Rudy Giuliani “Florida first” play book.

4 Tim
Pawlenty
Pawlenty has an excitement deficit and he knows it. It seems the guy is trying to top the John Edwards-held record for longest presidential campaign that nobody cares about. Recently his marketing team pitched him appearing with Elmo and Katy Perry’s chest on Sesame Street. Unfortunately, the appearance was cancelled when the Wasilla PTA cried that Katy’s cleavage was too much for children, and children’s advocacy groups were afraid that Pawlenty’s segment would spark a nationwide wave of narcolepsy among preschoolers.
5

Chris
Christie

A new darling among conservatives, Christie’s star has risen dramatically since he became governor of New Jersey and a budget hack’n’slash maniac. Christie’s tough talk and even tougher actions have gone over surprisingly well in the normally Democratic Garden State, where the big fella maintains an approval rating over 60%. Christie even made a recent visit to Iowa, which set off a wave of speculation that he may well be considering a run, something he denies almost as often as Snookie gets arrested.

Comments

  • Sam

    Wow, and I thought 2012 was going to be tough to get Obama re-elected. Please, please, oh please nominate Sarah Palin. Obama will 400 electoral votes.

    • Red State Eddio

      Do Guam and Puerto Rico have that many electoral votes between them?

      • Brian H

        Guam would be “tipping over” itself for a chance to vote for our Dear Leader.

  • Jerome Borden

    Mitt Romney: Couldn’t get elected in Utah, so he moved back east. Why? No gun lockers at the Olympic venues. A couple of weeks later, Dick Cheney was visiting at South Towne and they had gun lockers, smash hit. Later, in Massachusetts, he signed a gun ban comparable to either the 1994 Feinstein bill or California’s 1998 SB-22 when he wasn’t worrying about reelection. Bottom Line: A Gun Grabber comparable to Feinstein or Schumer.

    Huckabee moving to Florida? Why not? Look who else is down there: Rush Limbaugh. Fox is HQed in New York City where there is both a state and city income tax that is so bad that New Jersey and Connecticut look good by comparison. Florida doesn’t have a state income tax. Florida realtors should take note: What does it take to set up a studio in Florida? Nothing new: Jackie Gleason was down there in the 1950s.

    We’ll see who the stars are starting on the 3rd of November. That’s also when the future make-up of Congress becomes clear and also what ACORN has sprouted.

    • Brian H

      Don’t forget that O.J. “Juice” Simpson also moved to Florida before his forced relocation to a Nevada Correctional facility.

  • rjlf

    Chris Christie is not conservative enough for me. While personally against abortion, he promises that he won’t push the issue down people’s throats. While against same-sex marriage, he is in favor of same-sex civil unions. While in favor of strictly enforcing the gun laws in place in his state, he also favors the 2nd Amendment. Sounds to me like the Republican version of Bill Clinton — he’s not for it or against it. I’m hoping John Thune will throw his hat in the ring. We need a real conservative in the White House.

    • Whodat

      Who?

      • Brian H

        Whodat. Were you saying “who” when McCain picked Sarah? Two years ago almost nobody who followed politics knew who Palin was, now, her daughter is on Dancing with the Stars.

        The reason we have campaigns is so qualified individuals can make a case for themselves. If we are going to poo-poo everyone who throws their hat in the ring because we don’t know “who” they are how will ever know “who” they are?

        I have requested that ALL potential POTUS candidates contact me personally for my approval before they take make any announcements, nobody has contacted me thus far….but I wait with anticipation.

        • Whodat

          No debate on dat from me, Sarah was a “Who?”!
          It mattered less cause she was tapped for #2.

          Now, the Thuners are only talking ’bout place #1
          For their man, be for POTUS only he should run.

          Between being a “who” for 1 or who for 2 be
          A BIG difference, when people ax, “Who he?”

          By the way,SarahWho is in day 2 on a new Express:
          Workin, Gettin’ out dat vote everywhere, no less!

          Where be Thune today?Where’s Romney,Pence and…
          With two weeks to go, Sara’s doubled-down AGAIN!

          • Brian H

            Most excellent poem, comrade Whodat. You put both Dr. Seuss and Andrew “Dice” Clay to shame.

            I agree with everything you said. My only point is that Thune has not been placed as the #1,#2,#3……or any other #.
            Thune has simply positioned himself for a “possible” run. It will be up to the GOP primary voters to determine his legitimacy as a candidate. If Thune cannot make the case for himself than he will not win the nomination. I have NO idea if Thune or anyone else will be my top choice, I am simply happy to see that there are many good people who are willing to put their hat in the ring.

  • Brian H

    INTRADE has an asking price of potential outcomes. If one believes the likely hood of the outcome is greater than the percentage they buy, less than they sell.

    The numbers according the prediction markets.
    Romney – 30.5
    Thune – 18.5
    Palin – 17
    Pawlenty – 10.8
    Newt – 8.6
    Huck – 7.6
    Daniels – 6.2
    Pence – 6.0
    Paul – 5.2
    Christi – 5.1

    • Stephen Fountain

      It is interesting that Thune is ranked so high.

      • Brian H

        I thought the same thing. Are the futures predictors on to something?

  • Rick Hendrix

    I like Sarah Palin, but I don’t think she can overcome the media/popular culture caricature of her. (I liked Dan Quayle too.) I agree that RomneyCare is Mitt’s biggest problem in being the nominee against Obama. I’m not a huge fan of Newt or Huck, but I like Newt better. But more for college-professor-to-the-nation rather than President. I’ve never understood the Pawlenty thing. And I don’t know enough about Christie, and don’t think he’s going to run.

    At this point, the “track” is more like the race to get into the starting gates … we just don’t know for sure if a lot of these candidates are even going to get on the track. I’m keeping my powder dry until I get a better idea of who is actually going to run. The good news is, I think it’s going to start shaking out pretty soon (over the next few months).

  • Whodat

    That’s what I’m talking about!
    Finally, Sarah is at the top, #1!
    Not sure how long it will last,
    But, just for now, it’s sure fun.

    All the others are the same old
    “All the others” – like furniture they
    Can be rearranged, few would notice;
    Exciting? They’re all pretty grey…

    Some are pretty old, some just pretty,
    Some talk, talk, talk and do little.
    Some give bucks in the back rooms while
    Sarah’s out front – hot like a griddle.

    You go, girl! Keep stirring the pot,
    Keep workin’ it from sea to shining sea,
    Keep helpin’ our side to win ‘em big
    And, what will be will be…

  • http://www.wildfiretreasures.com/ Troy La Mana

    I think a little more love needs to be sent Mike Pence’s way. I agree with the analysis of Ron Paul so I would give Rand a look for 2016 along with Christe.

  • http://www.sotr.us Cordeiro

    Well, it looks like The One’s brain trust has also come out with their power rankings. Buried deep in the New York Times Magazine article entitled “The Education of a President”, I found this graph:

    They doubt Sarah Palin will run and figure Mitt Romney cannot get the Republican nomination because he enacted his own health care program in Massachusetts. If they had to guess today, some in the White House say that Obama will find himself running against Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor.

    And here I thought Team Obama paid attention to the legitmate Power Rankings…

    • Red State Eddio

      You say Mike Huckabee, I say Don Quixote…Huckabee, Quixote…Huckabee, Quixote…

      Wow, what were they inhaling? The Old Grey Lady is hacking from smoker’s cough right about now.

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

    One note about this idea that Romney has been under the radar. (There are a few PD faithful who love to criticize Romney for not doing enough to help the GOP during mid-terms, unlike Palin.)

    Here’s what Politico has to say about Romney’s contributions:

    “Romney’s PACs donated a total of $532,000 in the third quarter — nearly twice the combined amount that Pawlenty’s and Palin’s PACs contributed.”

    Romney doesn’t get the headline every time he endorses or donates like Palin because she’s a better story, but it would seem he’s done his share of heavy lifting.

  • marshport

    I’m surprised I didn’t see Jim DeMint at least on the Honorable Mention list.

    • Stephanie

      I was surprised that you didn’t have Paul Ryan, a rising star for the GOP, on the track. His Roadmap for American’s Future http://www.roadmap.republicans.budget.house.gov/
      and his fantastic performance in the GOP/Barack Obama summit proves he could be a contender for 2012.

      I see Ron Paul has been downgraded to an honorable mention despite the fact that the Campaign For Liberty has become a very formidable adversary to the establishment politicians on both sides of the isle. With Ron Paul’s son, Rand, making waves in Kentucky and great constitutional conservatives like Jim DeMint and Judge Andrew Napolitano very much involved with CFL – the Ron Paul Revolution could take many people by surprise.
      As George W. Bush would say – never misunderestimate – would we have thought a freshman senator from illinois would win the presidency in 2008?

      • David Kaiser, Editor

        How the heck will anyone be surprised by Ron Paul?

        The difference between Ron Paul in 2012 and Barack Obama in 2008 is that the American people have had a chance to see Ron Paul already. They saw him on the debates, the saw him on the campaign trail, they saw him on commercials. This isn’t some young guy no one has heard of, coming out of no where.

        I am honestly so sick and tired of Ron Paul supporters coming on here and crying about the fact we don’t put him higher in the rankings.

        The guy had *millions* of dollars in the 2008 cycle and couldn’t win a single primary.

        (I’ll pause here and let the Ron Paul apologists complain that the media was out to sabotage him and the Republican party insiders did everything to block his progress)

        The facts remain that Ron Paul has a strong and vocal, but not terribly large, group of supporters.

        Rand Paul will probably win in Kentucky, but the fact that the RCP poll composite only has him up five points in a state that generally goes Republican in a period where Democratic candidates are running for their lives is a bit telling.

        I will say it once again.

        Ron Paul is a good man with some good ideas, but he has enough outside the mainstream ideas that, combined with his age, makes it nearly impossible for him to win the Republican nomination in 2012.

        No bias, no hatred, just cold, hard fact.

        • Brian H

          THANK YOU, Kaiser!!!!!!!

          The cult of Paul is a bit creepy.

          • Red State Eddio

            Brian H thanking David Kaiser. Sheesh, the apocalypse is truly upon us… ;-)

            • Brian H

              The more I read from Kaiser the more I find agreement. Not sure if I am softening my positions or David is hardening his….

        • Stephanie

          I agree with Mr. Kaiser (sorry if I put you in a bad mood) that Ron Paul, as an individual, will most likely not make the GOP presidential ticket but his philosophy has swept several candidates into the 2010 spotlight. The fact that Joe Miller, Sharon Angle and Rand Paul are tied or ahead in the polls of their respective states shows that the right person waving a Ron Paulian banner can, indeed, be worthy of serious contention.

          By the way, I didn’t say I was surprised Ron Paul was removed from the PD track (I was actually surprised to see him ON the PD track for the last rankings!)because I understand that many conservatives consider him to be an older than dirt “fringe” candidate. I just thought with a successful group of Ron Paulish,tea party candidates running in 2010 and the growth of the Campaign For Liberty they would have kept him on the track.

          I also wouldn’t call Ron Paul supporters cult-like but I do think it is fair to say his constitutional philosophy resonates with those who take the time to understand it.

          • David Kaiser, Editor

            Stephanie, haha, its all good, you didn’t put me in a bad mood. In the past, some less rational Ron Paul supports would accuse us of bias against their candidate, as well as questioning our journalistic integrity.

            Both are silly, I’ve said a 1,001 times (now 1,002!) that I had respect for Ron Paul and even agreed with some of his positions, and PD isn’t a news site, its a blog where opinions are expressed. So hopefully you’ll understand why sometimes I’m a bit quick on the defensive when dealing with Paul supporters.

            For the record I don’t agree with calling Paul supports kooks or other terms like that, but you have to grant there are some Ron Paul supports who are a tad bit… over zealous?

  • Red State Eddio

    I just keep thinking fresh faces for a fresh chapter in American history:

    Paul Ryan, Mike Pence, Mitch Daniels, John Thune, Chris Christie. Yeh, yeh, name recognition. I want people with cred, experience, and a dislike factor that’s not in triple digits (see Newt & Palin).

    I just can’t stomach Romneycare for the nation. Unless he came out with an editorial that said emphatically and explicitly that he will commit to repealing Obamacare, I won’t pull the trigger (or lever) on him.

    Pawlenty needs eletroshock therapy to wake up his personality. Nuf said.

    • Rochelle

      Okay, you convinced me. I am announcing my candidacy. Bring on the applications for veep. :)

      • Red State Eddio

        You go girl!

    • Brian H

      I also am no fan of Romney-Care but I just would never allow that issue to stop me from “pulling the trigger”. Romney did it the right way, actually. In our federal system we have states that experiment with policy, some work, some do not. What Romney did in Mass. was a state issue not a national issue, as it should be. Romney has never proposed his “Romney-Care” as being a fix for the entire nation across the board. The beauty of our federal system is that we can learn what works and what does not work by looking at the experiences of our neighbors in the other 49 states.

      Every candidate who served as a Governor has probably supported a policy at the state level that would not be a fix for the nation.

      The difference between Romney-Care and Obama-Care is that Romney did not attempt to use all 50 states for a one size fits all policy.

      • Red State Eddio

        While I agree with you on the PROCESS, I completely disagree with the end PRODUCT. Mitt can have all the gubenatorial sleepovers he wants to get legislation passed – but if at the end of the day, it is a disugsting piece of monstrosity, it makes me less inclined to vote for him. RomneyCare does that to me everytime I read a new headline from the Boston Globe about the state of fiscal destruction happening in the Bay State because of this law. And that’s the liberal paper. You should see the headlines from the Boston Herald – they’re even worse.

        • Brian H

          I have little knowledge of Romney_cares impact in Mass. My assumption is that it has not been a good thing. I am only suggesting that one should not hold a state policy as an indicator of what Romney will do Nationally on this issue.

          If the choice is Roney-Care in Mass. or Obama-Care in the USA I will choose Romney Care in Mass.

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

            Romenycare has gone over budget into the billions of dollars. Costs for the counsumer have gone way up, and wait times for doctors appts has also increased. And in the end there is still a 2% slice of the pie that has not been insured. You can’t force people to buy into something if they don’t want, and again we see govt is best when it’s small.

      • http://www.wildfiretreasures.com/ Troy La Mana

        You are right, Massachusetts expected the US Government to bail them out when they had cost overruns. You can’t do that with Obamacare.

  • dw

    Any more recent thoughts on Herman Cain? He keeps talking more and more like he might give it a run in 2012.

    • Brian H

      Not time for amateur hour. I like Cain when I have heard him but we don’t need a political novice to compete for the highest political office in the world.

  • Jerry

    Sarah Palin is riding on a wave of popularity, good looks and bubbly personality; but wait until more and more people find that she will be a RINO when it comes to illegal aliens.
    Seems Sarah is all for giving the 12 to 20 million already here in the country a free ride to citizenship. She is willing to REWARD these criminals for breaking our laws. She doesn’t give a damn about the millions of Europeans that have been on waiting lists to get citizenship. Sure, let ‘em wait, bring on those lawbreakers from the Hispanic countries; the Americans will learn to speak Spanish to accommodate them. Sure we’ll be glad to press 1 to speak Spanish. Ain’t that right Sarah?

    As for the costs? So what’s a few more billions on the national debt? We’re going broke anyhow no matter what we do. Right Sarah?

    She won’t get my vote until she changes her stance on the illegals already here.

    Ask her also why she has TWO large cities in Alaska that are illegal alien “Sanctuary” cities. Anchorage and Fairbanks protects aliens from being deported and she approved of it when she was governor.

    Wake up people; she is a dangerous woman.

  • Cujo’s Girl

    Sarah is in first and the rest really don’t matter, honestly. If she wants it she’s going to win it.

    • David Kaiser, Editor

      That’s what they said about Hillary in 2008…

      • Cujo’s Girl

        I’d say that’s night and day. Do you see an Obama in the GOP crop? If Obama were white, Hillary would have won. No one likes saying that but it’s true and we know it.

        • David Kaiser, Editor

          And I’d say you’re wrong.

          Sure, Palin has a lot of support, but to call her nomination an absolute slam dunk before any candidate has even declared is naive at the very best.

          • Cujo’s Girl

            Maybe. But you didn’t dispute what I said in response to your Obama/Clinton comparison. To compare the two is as you would say, “naive at the very best”.

            • David Kaiser, Editor

              All I said was, “That’s what they said about Hillary in 2008.”

              You’re the one that made the leap that I was comparing the two as candidates. I’m merely saying that anointing someone as the winner now has a recent track record of being inaccurate.

              • Cujo’s Girl

                Nice try. Bottom line is Obama was black and gifted on the campaign trail like almost no one ever. There is no one on the R side even remotely close to that. Sarah will win it running away.

              • David Kaiser, Editor

                *Inhales deeply* Ahh, I love the smell of irrationality in the morning.

              • Brian H

                I am glad you are a fan of Sarah, but, to suggest two years before a campaign, where candidacies are just speculation, that anyone will “win it running away” is a bit of a stretch.

                I remember when Giuliani and Fred Thompson were morning line favorites.

                As in real horse racing, the favs only hit the win about 30% of the time.

                Intrade has been quite accurate in predicting outcomes as people put their money where their mouth is. Right now it has 1. Romney, 2. Palin

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

    I’m going to dress as a Mewt Gingabee for Halloween.

    I would love to see Christie run, but I think he’s said, numerous times that he’s happy to stay in the Garden State for now.

    • http://www.wildfiretreasures.com/ Troy La Mana

      It’s probably better that he stay out of 2012 and work towards 2016.

  • http://www.wchv.com Joe Thomas

    Rick Santorum would be at the top of my list if he had a little of Huckabee’s charisma.

  • Brian H

    Nice job on the rankings. Not much to argue with in your analysis.

    Trump a member of the GOP? Not sure, I imagined he would run as an Indi., if he runs at all.

    PS… Anyone gonna watch our Dear Leader on MTV tonight? Should be taking some tough questions there.

    • pdiddy

      trump has said he would run as an r

  • pdiddy

    good take, but i swap mitt and sarah, this article sums up why pretty well, forgot where i saw it

    http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2010/09/17/romney_2012