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


With each passing month, Romney looks more the part of a classic frontrunner. Pace yourself, don’t engage your competition needlessly and don’t take chances. His opponents and the media may loathe the strategy, but it’s worked - so far. Other horses took shots at Romney skipping the Ames straw poll, but will it matter? Both David Axelrod and his Stache were outraged that the “weird” Romney waited until the buzzer sounded to announce his position on the debt deal, but did actual voters notice? Whether they did or not, with the summer winding down and Rick Perry in the race, Romney’s lead is shrinking.


Bachmann, coming off an impressive win in Ames, finds herself gaining ground and soaking up much of the ABR (Anybody But Romney) energy. This horse had a decent summer: She knocked out Pawlenty and kept Palin off the track and on the bus. On the other hand, at her current pace, pundits predict she could pass Joe “They’re Terrorists” Biden on the gaffe scale by Labor Day. She placed Lexington and Concord in New Hampshire, called John Quincy Adams a founding father, and likened her spirit to John Wayne of Waterloo, Iowa. In fact, it was serial killer John Wayne Gacy who hailed from Waterloo. So, is Bachmann a serial killer? No. But is she a serial violator of truthiness? Time will tell.


Perry skillfully made huge headlines by avoiding the recent debate and the Ames straw poll. He's already second to Romney in some national polls and reports suggest he's raising money by the ten-gallion hat. As he bursts onto the scene, he frequently boasts that since June of 2009, Texas is home to 40 percent of all the jobs added in the United States. What he doesn’t tell you that most of those jobs were minimum wagers at Del Taco. In the end, it may boil down to this simple question: Are the party and the country ready to elect another Texan with cowboy boots and a drawl?

Paul performed very well in Ames, organizing an impressive second place finish. What has changed from his run in 2008? Not much, other than better advertising and that in 2012 he’s not running for reelection to his House seat. On the flip side, three important factors remain. He still has fantastic name recognition, the capacity to raise enough money to hang around for the long run, and that “angry old white man” mask he’s been wearing for a decade. For now he’s polling ahead of Newt, Cain, Huntsman and Santorum. Can he crack the top three or has he hit the ceiling?


Herman Cain has surprisingly passionate support, perhaps second only to Ron Paul, and he’s right on Paul’s hooves in the national poll averages. Could Cain’s success in early stages depend on his ability to tap into Paul’s support among college students? Herbert Hoover offered “a chicken in every pot.” Cain might pledge “a pepperoni with extra cheese in every dorm room.”


Newt's campaign is DOA. Or is it? His debate performance won raves and he answered the staff defection questions very well. Also, remember that pundits said John McCain's campaign was toast in 2007 when he ran into major money and organizational problems. Newt, however, has never smelled the polling numbers of Johnny Mac. Plus, by comparison, McCain's baggage could fit in the overhead bin. Newt's got a second jet in tow.
Santorum seems custom-fit for the ultra-conservative Iowa caucuses. Why, then, has he failed to gain traction? Because you don't need your very own political junkie website to know that this race is all about the economy and the former Senator is running as the social conservative. Wrong guy, wrong race, enviable tie collection.
Huntsman has quickly become “The Green Lantern” of the summer race: Deep curiosity, high expectations, nice abs, big marketing budget and a complete flop with audiences. He still has time and money won’t be a problem, but he needs to bring more to the field or risk quickly becoming irrelevant. It’s wonderful that he speaks Mandarin and has an appreciation and understanding of the Chinese culture. But so does Andrew Cherng, the CEO of Panda Express.