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


As the classic potential Republican frontrunning nominee, Romney is likely to raise more money in the second quarter than the other horses combined. This is critical in a rich race which could cost nearly as much as the incumbent president has spent on greens fees. It helps that Romney carries the perception of having paid his proverbial “dues” and that he looks the part. This means nothing in terms of actual abilities, but in the real world, appearance matters. Just ask Pippa Middleton. If not for Romneycare, Mitt would cruise to the nomination. But if Pawlenty and the other chasers don’t frame the debate better, he’ll cruise anyway. Prediction: Runs from the front to convention.

2 Tim

Pawlenty’s performance in the first full-debate was widely panned. His stumbling refusal to punch again with his own term, ObamneyCare, made him look like the bashful high school freshman who only takes shots at the jocks when they’re not around. Pawlenty remains a top-tier candidate, for now, because he’s surrounded by a strong, well-regarded team and should raise enough money to race the full track. But so far the former governor’s brand can be summed up as nice, affable populist midwesterner. That gets you elected governor of Minnesota, not president of the United States. Prediction: Will Fade.


Even Democrats seemed shocked by Bachmann’s surprise campaign announcement and strong performance in the CNN debate. She can’t hide a relatively thin resume and prefab talking-points style that could prove problematic. But if she wins the Ames Straw Poll and performs well in the upcoming debates, she could quickly pass Pawlenty as the ABR horse (Anybody But Romney). It helps that she has the persona of a candidate who eats people who once supported cap and trade for breakfast. Prediction: Wins Iowa.

4 Chris
The more he says no, the more some Republicans pine for Christie. This refusal to run may be his greatest popularity tool. He reminds you of the collegiate national player of the year declining to turn pro by saying he’s going back for his senior year to finish what he started. But could he be talked into the draft if he’s projected high enough? Perhaps. Still, as the only leader in America to ever intimidate a teacher’s union, Christie is probably genuine when he says he wants to “fix New Jersey first…” He just doesn’t finish with the rest of what he’s thinking: “…then run for President in 2016”. Prediction: Stays in the stall.


Palin is either not running for president or running the most bizarre, unorthodox campaign in history. She emerged from the massive email dump a winner, but her negatives, even among republicans, remain high. Should she ever declare, she’ll raise plenty of money and enjoy a quick bump in the polls, thus the top five ranking. But the other horses can’t wait to remind her that she’s been riding a bus and selling books longer than she actually served as governor. Prediction: Bedazzles her stall, but doesn’t run.


Ron Paul may have the most loyal, dedicated supporters in the history of politics. They’re passionate, generally well-informed, and willing to stand on the front lines. So why can’t Paul win? Because they’re simply aren’t enough of them. Despite his best efforts, Paul has a ceiling of support that precludes him from ever winning anything but a congressional election or Celebrity Apprentice. His 2012 campaign is nothing more than an educational platform meant to pave the way for Rand in 2016 or 2020. Prediction: Runs and loses all the way to convention.


You wouldn’t necessarily know it from his interviews, but like Romney, Huntsman is a lifelong Mormon. He appears moderate, has cash, gravitas, problem-solving credibility, and a look that screams “I am the President of the United States, please bring me jello.” So what does he offer GOP voters that Romney doesn’t? Leather, Mandarin Chinese fluency and a biker tan? Prediction: Fades before the NH snow falls.
8 Herman
Cain can be entertaining and engaging. But does turning around Godfather’s Pizza make you a viable choice for president? Sure, his numbers are on the rise and he’s a fresh voice in a soundbite-riddled field. But it’s impossible to imagine America is ready to elect an(other) unknown African-American with zero foreign policy experience. Prediction: Runs out of cash and hay.
Newt’s campaign organization and personal focus couldn’t get him elected sixth-grade class treasurer. The good news for Newt is that his wife and daughters didn’t resign en masse with the rest of his senior team. The bad news is that the worst ever national campaign based in Atlanta is no longer New Coke. Prediction: Glue factory.


The only political mystery greater than Santorum’s candidacy is why the women who received the Weiner Twitter pics haven’t gone blind. It’s difficult to grasp the motive and strategy behind a candidate who was trounced in his home state by Bob Casey, a guy with a unibrow so thick he has to brush it before bed. The only GOP candidate less likely to win an election in 2012 is Ronald Reagan. Prediction: Trips on the gate.


  • http://kansasreflections.wordpress.com ken long

    this is a 2 horse race: Romney vs Perry.

    Pawlenty cant even make it as VP, because he is a spineless debater, as well as being a white male

    either one loses to Obama

    move along

  • Promise Kept

    Thank you, Jason, for a fair appraisal of Ron Paul in the context of his supporters.

    “Ron Paul may have the most loyal, dedicated supporters in the history of politics. They’re passionate, generally well-informed, and willing to stand on the front lines.”

    Dr. Paul has always looked at the broad scope of his supporters with humble amazement at the depth of appeal that historic Liberty still has among all generations of American even now, and confesses himself grateful to be counted among them.

    I recently decided to up my visits and contributions to the PD to hopefully better help represent that, “generally well”, description.

    That said, I have to question what seems to be a “padding” of the post positions here. Putting T-Crawl and two unannounced and unlikely candidates ahead of Ron Paul, appears to be a somewhat inflated use of your well-trained literary skills, doesn’t it?

  • rjlf

    I’m thinking if Romney wins the nomination (and he probably will because Republicans haven’t learned from history NOT to pick the last election’s runner-up)that he just might choose Bachmann to balance the ticket.

    The reality rankings in my mind are:
    1) Romney (I don’t like him.)
    2) Pawlenty (I’d vote for him.)
    3) Bachmann (I’m a big fan!)
    4) Gingrich (Don’t count him out yet!)
    5) Cain (He’s not presidential material.)
    6) Paul (Too old and too dogmatic)
    7) Huntsman (Won’t get past Iowa)
    8) Santorum (I like him, but his days in politics are probably over. Although, Richard Nixon made a massive comeback after losing to Kennedy and losing and the California governor’s race.)

    • Whodat

      Can’t rip ol’ rjif, but I am not willing to give up hope that a vacuum like you laid out above, will suck somebody of value in. Surely! Surely? Don’t call me Shirley!

      O.K., I can rip you on Pawlenty and Santorum. There is “vacuum” and there is… let’s keep it friendly.

  • Whodat

    I think we are seeing a move toward acceptance of the inevitable. Having an earlier poll show Romney beating Obama probably moved many in that direction with no other strong contender. The old bandwagon…

    I also expect a run on clothspins to place over our noses as we end up voting for that RINO.

    Hope springs eternal and maybe a RIGHT-KNIGHT will ride in from RIGHT field on a RIGHT horse. For now, it looks like Romney can coast to beat Bachmann and a bunch of Bush league wanna-bes.

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

    Pretty interesting numbers out today from Rasmussen. So how about it, Tea Party faithful? You’ve been saying for months Romney can’t win because he won’t get Tea Party support. You sure?

    “Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich picks up nine percent (9%) support, followed by Texas Congressman Ron Paul with seven percent (7%), ex-Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty at six percent (6%) and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum also earning six percent (6%). Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, who did not participate in the debate but is expected to announce his candidacy on Tuesday, gets two percent (2%) of the vote. Eight percent (8%) prefer some other candidate. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

    Romney and Bachmann are tied among primary voters who say they are Tea Party members, with 26% support each.

    Romney holds a 36% to 16% lead over the congresswoman among non-members. Most primary voters regard all the candidates with the exception of Huntsman as conservative, but Bachmann is seen as the most conservative.”

  • Chris

    see, I like this, I always prefered this site when it was analysing rather than cheerleading

    Like the predictions thing as well

  • Jacosta

    1) Romney
    2) Bachmann
    3) Cain
    4) Christie
    5) Huntsman
    6) After this, no one else matters because the rest will fade quickly

    • Troy La Mana

      I’ll accept your top three but Christie isn’t running and Huntsman can’t be called a Republican.
      (Then again that label could also be applied to Romney)

      • BrettBaker

        Seriously? Huntsman can’t be called a republican? He was the G-O-P governor of Utah. What is wrong with you? Just for the fact you don’t agree with him being a moderate doesn’t mean he’s a moderate.

      • Jacosta

        Troy – once again, you really don’t know facts, but rather go on face-appearances. Do you live in Utah? Have you ever met Jon Huntsman? Ever worked with him? Well, I live in Utah, have met Jon Huntsman, and have worked with him on some personal and business projects. He IS a Republican! Just because a couple of views can be considered more moderate than conservative does NOT mean that he is “not” a Republican – like saying, “Well, Catholics don’t have the same views as Baptists, so they’re not Christian (or, vice versa)”

        There is not one Republican candidate who is going to agree with every view we would like them to that alligns with ours’…there are some views that I don’t agree on with Romney, Gengrich, Bachmann, Huntsman, Christie, etc. BUT, the overall is that we have to elect the best candidate to beat the Liberal we now have in the White House. I have poured over so much material (pro and con) regarding Romney’s “state” health care in MS…his past social views, etc. I am 100% convinced that he has had a change of heart – like that of Reagan and Bush – regarding those issues I deem important and Conservative to me (in the beginning, I was anti-Romney for the same reasons you are…but then did the studying) – and now feel comfortable that Romney (or even Bachmann, Cain, Christie, Huntsman…) would make a great president! But, I view Romney as the best right now in the field – so rather than splinter the votes and delegates and leave the door open for another 4 years of Obama, I’d much rather have Romney!!!

        • Troy La Mana

          If Romney had a change of heart he would own his mistake and tell the world. He still refuses to do so and therefore can’t be taken as a serious candidate.

          Huntsman is canceling appearances which makes me feel like he isn’t serious about being a candidate. That’s no skin off my bones since we don’t need another Liberal-Lite, or what some call Moderates, we need a strong Constitutional Conservative to wrestle the American train back on the tracks.

          • Jacosta

            Troy…once again, I really believe that you do not do your research. On the subjects of abortion AND “Romneycare”, he HAS admitted that there were mistakes – numerous times on national tv (Fox, CNN, MSNBC…etc); but, regarding his original version the health care bill, he will not apologize for how it was originally initiated; the original intent (and I don’t blame him because it was a good idea!).

            Unfortunately, dealing with a very liberal state legislature, there were some portions that were added he had no control over, and other parts he was able to veto because they were too liberal, and still other parts which were changed by Governor Patrick Deval (that made it worse but it always gets blamed on Romney…again, do the research).

            On abortion, he has always stated that he did in fact change his heart and mind on the matter due to a personal experience; and that he has owned up to it as a mistake on his previous views.

            So, when all the evidence is out there at your fingertips, surfing the Internet…why not take advantage of knowledge and truth? But, I’m convinced that you’re going to continue to believe what you will given facts. I was once where you were on this subject – again, I was definitely NOT in Romney’s camp back in 2008 and was a li’l anti-Mitt. However, the difference is I took the time to study, to find out…and then discover that it was mostly the MSM purporting half-truths and distortions on his record because they were afraid of him.

            Are any of the current, or potential, candidates in sync with my views 100% (which I consider Conservative)? No, not necessarily, not even Romney. BUT – if we don’t rally round the best most Conservative person we get and vote her or him in – the Liberal a** we now have occupying the White House will have another 4 years in spending our country into oblivion!

            • Troy La Mana

              He may have hinted at it but he hasn’t come out and apologized for even the “original” version of RomneyCare. I have heard Mitt say repeatedly that his plan was meant for the state and that any cost overruns were paid by the Federal Government. I certainly don’t want to pay for people outside my state. Besides,the very idea of a state or nation forcing a citizen to buy a product appalls me. It is unconstitutional. I want him to clearly state at a debate that RomneyCare was a mistake and he has learned from that mistake. Then, and only then, will I give him a pass on this subject.

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  • Charon

    The states are the laboratories where specific initiatives can be attempted. Romney was right by implementing his health care plan in MA if that is what the residents wanted. What works for the states does not necessarily work on a federal level. People should stop comparing Romney’s health care plan with Obama’s plan. The federal plan was forced on us whether we want it or not. I think Romney did a fine job as governor representing the people of his state.

    • http://deleted Joe W

      Oh my Gosh! I just have to walk away from my keyboard. Are you really trying to justify Romney Care? Romney himself wouldn’t touch that spin. Can someone else help the nice lady?

    • Brian H

      100% Correct!!!

      I am not an expert on Romney-Care but you are so very right. There is a HUGE difference between laws initiated at the federal level and and laws initiated at the state level.

      • http://deleted Joe W

        Health Care is neither a right on the Federal level nor the state level

        • Brian H

          If the people in a state desire it than it most certainly is, Joe. That is why we have state legislatures. Or, we could just let Ron Paul tell everyone what their rights are and we could eliminate all forms of govt.

          If you are a person who values Constitutional principals you should be able to recognize the rights of sovereign states to make laws according to their own needs.

          • http://deleted Joe W

            Your right throw out the constitution and may the best Idea win. Many people including a few relative in Mass. didn’t want Romney Care. Tell me again why they had to pay for it?

            • Brian H

              Because the people of MAss. voted in a legislature (representative govt) that was pro Roney-Care.

              Elections have consequences.

              Welcome to America.

              • Troy La Mana

                Very true. This is why you shouldn’t vote for Romney. The rest of the country will get more of the same. Do not be wise in words – be wise in deeds. ~Jewish Proverb

  • Whodat

    Only two names are worth ranking right now: Romney and Bachmann. The others are either not in now, or in now and going out. I can’t remember being so utterly unexcited, in fact, disappointed at our side in my life and I’m fairly old.

    I had a feeling that T-Paw would be like Rudy and fade fast, but the nano-second from said to dead was not expected.

  • Troy La Mana

    How can you say Romney will raise more money in the 2nd Quarter then the rest of the field combined when Paul raised almost twice as much as Romney in the 1st Quarter??

    • David Kaiser, Editor

      Troy, seriously, what are you on?

      I assume you are talking about “official” fundraising for declared candidates. If that is the case, then sure, Paul wins. Of course most of the money he raised in Q1 isn’t tranferrable to a Presidential campaign.

      If we are talking “official” money, then Michelle Bachmann was your first quarter champion.

      But if you look at real money, Mitt raised $23 million in Q1, including over $10 million on one day.

      • Troy La Mana

        Where do you get the “real” money numbers?
        The official numbers I have say an almost 2 to 1 advantage for Paul.

        • David Kaiser

          Please show me.

          As far as I can see, Ron Paul has three fundraising entities, The Committee to Re-Elect Ron Paul, which is his Congressional PAC, LiberyPAC, which is his national PAC, and Campaign for Liberty, which is a 501 c(4), which means the $2 million he raised using that cannot be transferred to a Presidential campaign fund.

          He raised $1 million through LibertyPAC.

          Here’s an article that talks about $10 million Mitt raised in *one day* last month:


          Compare that to Ron Paul’s last “money bomb,” which brought in $1 million:


          Don’t just look at the PAC money, look at the whole picture.

          • Troy La Mana

            I posted it in an earlier story. My information came from the WSJ.

  • Brian H

    Great job on the picks. Looks very good.

    I would not have put Christie or Palin, they are not running.

    I don’t know if any of you saw Christie on Pierce Morgan last night, he was quite good, but, also quite honest and quit adamant that he is not running. Enough said. There is ZERO chance he will run, his words, not mine.

    A clear scratch in 2012 Derby.

    • BrettBaker

      Palin has not said no, so obviously she should be ranked.

      Christie? You’re probably right he doesn’t belong. HOWEVER, Obama said the same thing on Meet The Press and look what that got us?

      • Brian H

        I haven’t said no either. Ar what point to do we focus on the ones who acknowledge a run.

  • Alaina

    Agreed with the first 6…

    As for Huntsman, I watch the news A LOT and I’m not sure I could pick him out of a line up. If he’s serious about running, he better get in quick if he wants a shot.

    I think Cain will continue to rise. Personally, I have a lot more respect for someone who can take over 400 Burger Kings and take them from the least profitable to most profitable in less than 3 years. Then turn around and do it again with Godfather’s. That’s a much more impressive resume than what I’ve seen from the other candidates… As far as foreign policy, who else (other than Huntsman) has foreign policy experience? I’m pretty sure I heard the same thing about Obama when he said he had travelled internationally.

    I wish we could erase Newt’s past personal choices, but it can’t be done so he should pack it up.

    Santorum… How big could his ego be to think that he could be elected President when he can’t get re-elected in his own district? He’s just another one that should pack it up.

  • Chester

    I would put Tim in 3rd……..Perry in 4th – he is more likely to run than Christie (Republicans need to leave him alone, he aint running)

    Also Perry can say his state has produced 37% of the new jobs in Obama’s term in office……he should be above Christie, and Huntsman with his money and governor and international experience should be ahead of Paul, I mean really….Ron Paul ahead of Huntsman

    • Alaina

      Perry doesn’t have a shot. Even if he was a great governor, which he is far from, America won’t be re-electing another Texas Governor just 4 years after Bush’s departure.

      Not to mention he increased our state deficit from $650M to a projected $27B. That’s a major issue in this climate… right after RomneyCare.

      Other than that, he comes across as a goof… you should have seen him speak at CPAC… as a Texan, I was humiliated.

      And of course, see the link below for a list of other reasons why he’ll never make it…


      • Whodat

        Dittos, Alaina.

        Expect to hear from Tea Party types and true conservatives to tell the world all about RINO Perry if he ever announces.

      • rjlf

        You tell ‘em Alaina! I agree with you 100%, and I too am a Texan!

  • JOE W

    Rankings looked fair with the exception of Pawlenty. After the NH debate he is cooked. Bye, Bye Timmy. You spineless Jellyfish.

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

      Where would you put him?

      • http://deleted Joe W

        There is not much that seperate Mitt from Tim. The lobbed softball was his chance to show contrast. He blew it and can’t use it again. He is cooked and will drop out first. He should be sitting 8th behind all other official contenders.

        • Brian H

          OK. We will see.

        • BrettBaker

          You honestly think Pawlenty will be the first to drop out? You’re loony. I’ll make a wager you’re wrong.

    • Alaina

      Agreed he missed an opportunity, but few will remember it 6 months from now.

      • Chester

        Few will remember him 6 months from now :)……he is toast.

  • daniel

    After 8 years of suffering through our side and president Bush being relentlessly beaten up by the other side I can’t bear the thought of Pawlenty. He doesn’t seem to have any strong convictions or the will to defend them.
    As for Romney how can we elect the inventor of Obama Care and expect him to rid us of it. Romney is a brilliant manager, he might be able to manage them well enough to keep them around when they need to die and go away.
    Bachmann and Johnson are the ones I would like to see win the nomination but the field is likely to split the conservative vote to the point we may nominate a democrat light instead of a real alternative. I hope our campaign slogan is not we are less oppressive less offending. I prefer to real change more freedom.

  • dw

    I love cheering for the long shots. Go, Cain!

  • JE

    Said it before and will say it again, Romney is your republican candidate for the same reason you had mccain and dole. Republicans choose the guy who has been around, taken a few for the team, and tows the party line. Romney supported mccain after the primary loss last time, he has raised money for candidates and has the ability to raise money now, and he has been an R governor (and historically, with a few exceptions, governors win presidencies).
    He gets the nomination because its his turn and he is the one they think has the best chance to win…barring something completely insane happening (he converts to islam and declares jihad, he accidentally overdoses on caffeine by accidentally drinking coffee at a campaign stop, his plastic facade melts under the hot lights of the debates, or his trainers accidentally put genetically modified oats in his feedbag).
    Oh and by the way, the rankings are as good as can be expected in this field.