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

Mitt
Romney

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

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.

Michele
Bachmann

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
Christie
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.
5

Sarah
Palin

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

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.

Jon
Huntsman

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
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
Gingrich
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.

Rick
Santorum

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.

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