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


Perry's lead in the polls shrinks with every sleepy-eyed debate performance. In the most recent, Perry gave a few odd answers between stifled yawns, especially on college tuition for illegal immigrants. PD wonders if Rick Perry's advisors on immigration are Cheech and Chong, because if he keeps this approach, his campaign will go up in smoke.


Romney's numbers are recovering slowly as he continues to run with the strategy that as long as he doesn't trip, he'll win. It’s a questionable approach, one that hearkens to Thomas Dewey’s “just don’t make a mistake” campaign of 1948. You know, “Dewey defeats Truman.” We aren’t entirely sure, but maybe Romney thinks if he runs his campaign conservatively, he’ll convince voters he is actually is one.


Paul just cracked double digits in a legitimate national poll (Gallup) for the first time in recent memory. Ron Paul also just lost a straw poll (Florida) for the first time in recent memory. His supports continue to insist he’s the only candidate that can fix our problems, and we agree that until now, he’s been about the only consistent candidate in the GOP race. Paul is consistent in his message, consistent in his views, consistently cranky and consistent in polling 7 to 8% on average in national polls.

4 Herman
Cain is surging and building buzz the way Trump and Bachmann did before him. Cain needs to do what neither of them could and build on the momentum of the Florida Straw Poll victory. To do this, Cain has to prove he’s not a thin crust on the issues, rather that he can get deep dish with his ideas on solving problems.


Gingrich hit third in a recent poll (CNN) for the first time and PD thinks his performance in the debates have been the key. But while Gingrich shows in debates he's a political savant, it only magnifies the fact that his personal life is an extended episode of Benny Hill. Still, as one PD editor pointed out, Gingrich would look real good flambéing Joe Biden in a VP debate as the GOP's number two candidate.


The congresswoman's fast and furious decent from her Ames win has her polling just 4% in the new CNN poll. Despite a promising start to her campaign, and her attempt to portray herself as having more gravitas than Tea Party twin Sarah Palin, Bachmann has become Palin redux. It’s so bad, PD is waiting for her to say she can stand on the shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota and see China.
The tale of The Strange Candidacy of Rick Santorum continues, with some fascinating developments in recent weeks. It turns out that like Gingrich, Santorum is also a pretty darned good debater. He's turned in strong performances, including the last, after which some pundits said he came in a close second to Romney. What does all this mean? Two measly points in most national polls, and, given Santorum’s social issue emphasis, not much of a chance to get any stronger. Rick can’t fix the economy if he doesn’t realize it is the problem.
With all due respect to the former Utah governor, he needs to hear this: "Viability has now left the building." Huntsman is polling last among the candidates that have appeared in the majority of the debates -- no, Gary Johnson doesn’t count -- and Huntsman hasn’t made much of an effort to run as a conservative. His mantra has been his appeal to independents, but that does him no good when he's likely to be on a Harley tour next fall when independents actually matter.