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


The year 2011 will define Palin, but neither as a Fox News personality, nor as the hostess with the mostest walking us through the wilds of Alaska. No, 2011 will be the year she defines herself as a potential candidate for President of the United States. The you betchya’s and why donchya’s are starting to age like a fine loaf of bread, and six out of 10 Americans say they wouldn’t even consider voting for her. Worse, her year started with the media suggesting she was responsible for the Tucson shootings, then griping that she inserted herself into the story by responding to their accusations. On the other hand, Palin tolerated Kate Gosselin’s company for an entire afternoon, people. An entire afternoon! Don’t count on her taking her ‘prom hair’ back home.


While the media isn’t following him around to see where he buys toilet paper like Palin, Mittens had a pretty solid year, doing the good little soldier bit for the GOP all while applying touch-up to his personality flaws, particularly his penchant for getting a bit prickly when challenged in a debate setting. While Romney hasn’t gotten the love (cough) from the media that Palin has, he’s doing all the things a serious candidate for the Republican nomination should, like trying to spin his biggest anchor, RomneyCare, into something that won’t sink him.

3 Mike

He took a job on Fox News (seems to be a prerequisite for 2012 candidates) and moved to Florida. These moves seemed to indicate he’s not running. Then you look at the polls, which he’s consistently topped or been near the top since Obama took office. Still, the question of whether or not Huckabee will run remains the unanswered question of our time – well, that and how anyone thought giving Joy Behar her own show was a good idea.

Newt’s friends say he’s serious about running in 2012. His daughter said he’s serious about running in 2012. Newt said he’s serious about running in 2012. Basically, he’s suggested a presidential run about as many times as Brett Favre’s said he’s retiring. But Favre apparently means it this time, so maybe that’s a sign that Newt is ready to come off the bench. Or it could mean he’s had his head bounced off the turf a few too many times over his past personal indiscretions. Whether or not he runs, Newt at least looks like he’s putting the pads on.


The Paul family celebrated another of their clan in the hallowed halls of the Capitol with son Rand’s successful bid to become senator from Kentucky. Dr. No and his sidekick are so fiscally conservative that they’re sharing a condo in D.C. Anyone else see the possibilities of a fundraiser disguised as a reality show here? Wire that condo up with a bunch of webcams and charge $3.99 an hour to see the Paul boys streaming live. It may not be as exciting as a condo with a few Kennedys and a case of scotch, but it should make for some interesting viewing. Sorta.


We’ve been a little hard on T-Paw in the past few editions of the Power Rankings. We’ve called him vanilla ice cream. We said that an appearance on ‘Sesame Street’ would cause a pandemic of narcolepsy among children. We even revealed that he once had a mullet. So our New Year’s resolution is to cut Pawlenty some slack, at least for this round, and try to say something positive. As soon as possible. Deadline: Iowa.


Just last month, DeMint said on Fox that he is totally out of the GOP race in 2012. Hey, remember when that Senator-elect Obama guy said in November 2004 that he wouldn’t be a candidate for president in 2008? That’s pretty much where the similarities end, but you get the point. DeMint has super conservative cred, and he’s a darling of the Tea Party. He’s from the south and has helped the GOP maintain a united front against the Obama administration. DeMint has also repeatedly praised Sarah Palin, including comparing her to St. Ronald Reagan, so does that mean he won’t run against her?
Make no mistake, Rick Santa … Santini … Santana … whatever, the dude’s running for president. In the past year and a half, he’s made seven trips each to Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. That could just mean he likes corn, maple syrup and barbecue, but let’s be serious here. Santorum is undoubtedly a major underdog here, and in the past he’s been all about the social issues, which have been stuck on the backburner since the economy tanked. Seems he’s banking on a recovery, but if that happens, is there any Republican who can beat an incumbent?
9 Mike
Quick history quiz! Name the last sitting member of the House to be elected president? The last, and only, was James Garfield of Ohio. But even then, before he was a rep, he was governor of the Buckeye State. That doesn’t preclude Pence, one of the nation’s most respected fiscal conservatives, from making a run. But lately it looks like Pence realizes he has about a good a shot at winning the nomination as Mike Gravel has of beating Obama in ’12, because the rumor mill says he could run for governor of Indiana, which could set him up quite nicely in 2016.


Yes, we know we’ve ranked him 54. And yes, we mean it. He of the kajillion dollar comb-over has made noise about running, and maybe he will. But Trump running for the nomination generates about as much excitement as the guy who ran for governor of New York under the banner of ‘The Rent is Too Damn High’ party. Don’t plan on voters telling him, “You’re hired.”


  • Gary Russell

    Allow me to join Alaina in lobbying for Mike Pence. Even though I suspect that he will run for Governor instead, I believe that he would be an amazing candidate and president.

    PD keeps tossing up the old argument of “the only sitting member of the House of Reps to be elected president was James Garfield”…
    That might have been relevant in the pre-cable news days, but I don’t think that it has much weight now.

    Also, a correction: James Garfield was NEVER the governor of Ohio. He was selected to fill the remainder of a U.S. Senate term, but he never became a senator (he became the surprise nominee for president before he ever took office as a senator).

    • Brian H

      I agree about Pence. I think he would make a strong candidate.

    • David Kaiser, Editor

      You are correct Gary. I was getting my Presidents-who-were-from-Ohio-that-were-assassinated mixed up. William McKinley was governor of Ohio before becoming President and getting assassinated.

      Sorry for the mix up!

      • Gary Russell

        Easy mistake to make – it is “ancient” history!

        I only caught it because Garfield is an interesting President to me. He was also a minister in the Christian Church / Church of Christ, which is my affilliation, too.
        Really odd “assassination”…his bullet wound wasn’t nearly serious enough to kill him, but incompetent doctors poked and prodded in search of the bullet to the point that it became enlarged and infected. Took him many weeks to die. He made the statement that he was being “tortured for the Republic”, or something to that effect.

        I’ll stop with the useless knowledge now…

        • David Kaiser, Editor

          It was also interesting because Alexander Graham Bell had a lot to do with trying to save him. First they used a metal detector he had invented to try to find the bullet but it didn’t work.

          It didn’t work because they failed to realize he was on a bed with a metal frame, which made the detector useless.

          Then a group of Navy engineers and scientists came up with an early version of the air conditioner buy blowing air over blocks of ice to keep him comfortable as he suffered.

          Another interesting fact was the assassin was an insane lawyer who defended himself by saying that the bullet didn’t cause his death, the incompentent doctors did.

          He seemed like a decent man. What might have been…

  • Brian H

    No vote on Obama. No vote on Romney (if he were to win GOP nod).

    So, what candidate that can’t win would you subject yourself to long lines to cast your vote for?

    • Troy La Mana

      Too early to tell. I just know who won’t get my vote.

  • Troy La Mana

    The problem with forgetting to take the trash out after a fish dinner is that the smell stays around forever. The same could be said about RomneyCare.
    Romney sleeps with the fishes on Convention night.

    He has not, nor ever will, have my vote.. But, I would happily give him a position in the cabinet dealing with finance.

    • Rochelle

      ah, but should it be between Romney and Obama, could you be swayed to the Romney camp? That is the real question.

      • Troy La Mana

        You know I could never vote for Obama. That doesn’t mean I would be forced to vote for Romney.

    • Brian H

      I understand that many on the right are not happy with “Romney-Care”, but, I live in Texas, it had zero impact on my life.

      “Romney-Care” was never sold by Mitt to be a structure that would, or should, be done at a national level. It was, as should be, an experiment done at the state level. The beauty of 50 independent states is that they are test pilots for programs for other states, their successes or failures should be examined by other states. The fact that Obama falied to recognize the failures of the Mass. model and has duplicated it at the natl. level should be no reflection of Romney

      “Romney-Care” seems to have become the “McCain-Feingold” for people who want any reason to oppose Romney. It is manufactured outrage over a policy and program that most of us knw little to nothing about.

      Excuses to why we will “never” vote for a candidate are not hard to come by.

      • Whodat

        Amen brother. Having voted for McCain, I can vote for anybody. A castrated one-eyed yellow dog, with three legs, answers to the name Lucky, it would get my vote over Obomb. Even if his VP was Romney…

      • Alaina

        Romney-care aside, I would not vote for him either. I’ve never gotten over the feeling that he make a checklist of “Conservative Values” and marked off each point every time he made a speech or public appearance when he decided to run for Governor. His record doesn’t match his rethoric.

        I’d be happy to make give him a Cabinet post related to Finance or maybe even Secretary of the Treasury, but not President.

        • Alaina

          Also, he really rubbed me the wrong way at CPAC last year. In a room full of thousands of Conservatives, his entire hour long speech (which required a teleprompter – he was the only one to use it all weekend by the way) was about how bad Obama and his policies are for the country.

          Yep… got it… you’re preaching to the choir Dude.

          He didn’t make a single statement about what he would do differently.

          I just can’t bring myself to support him in the primaries. But yes, if it were between him and Obama, I would choose the lesser of two evils.

        • David Kaiser, Editor

          Whoa! Romney doesn’t pass your conservative smell test, but Rudy Giuliani does?


          • Alaina

            As I’ve said many times, I don’t care about social issues… I lean more toward libertarian when it comes to social issues.

            My issue with Romney is that he presents himself as something that he’s not, based on his record in Mass.

            I liked Giuliani because he ran New York like a business and that’s exactly what we need right now. Plus, he doesn’t run from his social views.

            Romney will say whatever he thinks people want to hear (more so than most politicians) and I have no respect for that.

            • Brian H

              I respect the fact that Rpmney may not earn your choice during the primary. But, when people say they could never cast a vote for Romney, not even over Obama…..scary stuff.

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

    Interesting. Found this on politico:


    • Alaina

      Pence has been my guy since CPAC last year and, if he runs, I’ll support him in every way possible. That said, I’m wondering if his intentions truly are to run for President.

      We know he has his eye on something very soon since he declined a leadership position in the House and he’s on a major news network almost nightly, but I’m wondering if you’re right and there’s a possibility that he’s going to run for Governor of Indiana.

      Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but it’s less than a month away from CPAC and he’s not a confirmed speaker. Surely any serious 2012 candidate would attend CPAC this year, right?

      • Whodat

        Maybe he is not confirmed at CPAC for the same reasons as others, in groups, are leaving CPAC; could we call it a “spat”? Anyway, if CPAC wants to celebrate gay pride, maybe he just does not have the matching shoes and bag to fit it.

        Anyway, CPAC, like the RNC, is less relevant to those of us who just like to get together in the street and raise hell. We tend to choose our own candidates and give direct without going through a middle-man, middle-person, middle-it, middle-whatever…

        • Alaina

          Yeah, but it’s Heavan for a political junkie…

    • Whodat

      Excuse me. What is a “Thomas Cheplick in Blog”
      who promotes Pence with such ferver? Perchance a mere infiltrator behind the lines with intent to disrupt? To elevate Pence at the exPense of others? I do not know this man, nor do I know his plan, but quoting the Bard, “Me thinks he doth protest too much.”

      • Alaina

        I promote Pence every chance I get and I’m not trying to disrupt… You should check him out. I think you might like him.

  • Brian H

    Hmmm….. mixed thoughts.

    My thoughts

    1. Romney – Still the man with a plan, serious minded, strong resume and strong skill-set.
    2. Palin – Hope not but she still has the following although resume and skill-sets are weak.
    3. Thune – Think he will be in the mix.
    4. Huchabee – Name and strong skill-set to run.
    5. Palwenty – Getting an early start, I like this guy.

  • Kev

    What a surprise that the half-term governor is in first. Other than that the order is decent. But Gov. Barbour deserves to be in top 5 or 6 IMO.

    • David Kaiser, Editor

      I’m with you Kev, but who on this list has had more face time and is more well known right now than Palin? Remember, these power rankings are not a predictor of who we think will win the nomination, but really a barometer of who has the most clout right now.

      When the rubber hits the road, and these folks announce, campaign and debate, I firmly believe Sarah will not win.

      I hear you on Barbour, and while he is a stronger candidate on paper than others in this top 10 list, he’s kind of been laying low lately, hence why he’s not there.

      Trust me, he makes a couple of stops in Iowa and New Hampshire, he’ll jump up real quick.

  • Whodat

    I think you have Trump ranked a little high at 54… Funny, however.

    Who can argue with all the others?

    But, the gun really just sounded with the new congress, then we had a false start as the Tucson killings took over for a week, but they are all back on the track this week. Let’s see who says what on the healthcare repeal and which cream comes to the top as the Republicans take control and begin the process on undoing the socialism that was spawned under Obomb, Peloosie, and Dingy.

    As always, I believe that most of the 60% who would not vote for Palin would not vote for any Republican or would likely never vote – over 50% of us never do. And, that most of Huckster’s support is among SOCIAL conservatives and is among the weakest otherwise.

  • Rochelle

    What about Herman Cain? He has actually announced an exploratory committee. Does he have a shot?

    • David Kaiser, Editor

      I would put Herman Cain in the same boat as Mike Gravel.

      • dw

        I would agree that Cain is an unknown right now and not ready to show up on the rankings. But I’m predicting that he will be the big surprise in the GOP race. He’s very conservative and aligns well with a lot of the Tea Party ideals. Time will tell…

        • David Kaiser, Editor

          Problem is dw that “very conservative and aligns well with a lot of the Tea Party ideals” also describes Sarah Palin, Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, Nikki Haley, and Marco Rubio, all of whom have more name recognition then Cain.

          I’m not saying he’s bad candidate, I’m saying he’s unlikely to be able to eclipse any of these folks in a run for the nomination.