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

Despite his most criticized debate performance to date, Romney increasingly exudes an aura of inevitability. He is suddenly contending in Iowa, a state he’d reportedly written off like an ugly cousin to her prettier pal, New Hampshire. If Romney wins IA and NH, it’s race over.

2 Herman
Cain

Cain leads some state polls and recently won the Nevada straw poll. However, he’s approaching Bachmann territory on the gaffe scale and probably needs to sort out his own apples and oranges before trying to explain them on camera. The next 30 days will determine if he’s a legitimate threat, or the latest dream horse to flash and fade.

Rick
Perry

Perry was aggressive and engaged in the last debate and, for the first time, looked like he came to fight. But was the swagger too much? His slide on the track seems to have slowed and he’s steadied before hitting the Bachmann basement. Perry now looks to retread candidate Steve Forbes for a new push from an economic plan to compete with the notoriety received by Herman Cain’s 9-9-9.

Newt
Gingrich
Newt is still the 2012 ideas man and he’s sole handedly the reason to watch the debates. Yes, he’s on the rise, but Newt is also still as likely to win the nomination as Huntsman, which is a nice way of saying he won’t.

Ron
Paul

Paul has the firmest ceiling of any horse in the race. On the one hand he’s consistent, on the other he’s completely incapable of changing anyone’s mind. It’s worth noting that he outspent most of the horses in Q3 and still hasn’t seen any movement in his numbers.

Michele
Bachmann

Bachmann's fast-fade has just gone supersonic with the mass resignation of her New Hampshire staff. Bachmann is now putting all her hay into Iowa, a state where she clings to fifth place over Perry. Could she still win there? Yes. Will she make it to Iowa? Probably not.
Rick
Santorum
Santorum clings to the hope that the economy will suddenly go all Lazarus on America, creating an opening as the top social conservative in the race. Someone might whisper in his ear that if the economy miraculously pulls itself off the mat, Obama will take credit and easily win reelection. Sure, Santorum has a path to something, but it's not a nomination, it's a talk show.
Jon
Huntsman
Huntsman is so far behind the other horses, he's beginning to make Gary Johnson look viable. Every candidate but Huntsman has something to offer the republican party. Even Santorum, the closest horse, has solid social conservative creds. All Huntsman ostensibly brings to the field is Mandarin fluency, something also available through Rosetta Stone. Could there be a surge? Yes, a surge in the number of unemployment claims listing "Huntsman for President" as their most recent employer.

Comments

  • Rob

    New CNN polls today. Paul 3rd in Iowa, SC and NH.

    Iowa: Romney 24% Cain 21% Paul 12% Perry 10% Gingrich 10% Bachmann 6%, Santorum 2%

    South Carolina: Romney 25% Cain 23% Paul 12% Perry 11% Gingrich 8% Bachmann 4% Huntsman 1% Santorum 1%

    NH: Romney 40%, Cain 13%, Paul 12%, Huntsman 6%, Gingrich 5%, Perry 4%, Bachmann 2%, Santorum 1%

    Florida: Romney 30%, Cain 18%, Gingrich and Perry 9%, Paul 6%, Bachmann 4%, Huntsman 1%, Santorum 1%

  • Gary Russell

    Kaiser, I hereby apologize for doubting your placement of Cain beneath Romney.
    .
    Your physic powers correctly predicted that Herman Cain would “jump the shark” on the very next day after the PD ratings came out.

    • David Kaiser, Editor

      Gary you are forgiven.

      Just remember this conversation next time you doubt me.

      ;)

      Hehe.

  • Whodat

    UPDATED 7:54 a.m. ET
    CBS News Poll analysis by the CBS News Polling Unit: Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus and Anthony Salvanto.
    Businessman Herman Cain is now atop the field of Republican White House hopefuls, squeaking past former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the latest CBS News/New York Times poll.
    Cain garnered 25 percent support of Republican primary voters in the poll released on Tuesday, compared to Romney’s 21 percent.
    .
    In early October, the two men were tied at 17 percent. The poll was conducted Oct 19-24 among 1,650 adults.
    .
    Whodat (famous Cainiac) make his comment here: Of course we cannot trust CBS or NYTimes to tell the truth about anything, but I thought this little pinch of paprika would add some flavor to this pot we be stirrin’.

    • Troy La Mana

      Just more evidence that his “gaffe” has no effect on his polling.

      • Whodat

        But, that ad and the team it represents does it for me. Turn out the lights, the party’s over!

  • Rob

    The only reason I think Perry should be lower is his support in the early voting states is on the whole pretty terrible. Same thing with Gingrich (to a point). Paul should be 3rd or 4th based on that alone.

    • David Kaiser, Editor

      In terms of New Hampshire, you are dead on.

      In Iowa, Paul does lead him in recent polls but its within the margin, and Perry had 25-30 points there a month ago. If Cain falters, you could make an argument that at least some of those votes may go back to Perry.

      In South Carolina and Florida, Perry leads Paul in most polling, especially in SC. Paul is tied with Perry in one recent Florida poll, but at three percent each, which is not good for either of them.

      • http://scottslant.blogspot.com/ Scott A. Robinson

        In reputable national polls, Paul has recently been consistently in 5th. We will have additional poll analysis here on PD coming very soon.

  • David Kaiser, Editor

    Alright guys, lets try to keep it civil and on topic. Opinions on the qualities of the American political system versus the rest of the world, and what nickname to give the rabid followers of a particular candidate aren’t really topical to the rankings.

    • Whodat

      Seems like good clean fun to me. I like Herman best and take only pride and good humor in being called a Cainiac. Good term. I put on a uniform once and raised my right hand and they tell me one reason I did that was so somebody could call me a Cainiac – and so that my youngest daughter could still be an Obomb supporter. Of course, I have cut her out of my will, but that is another subject for another day.
      .
      For friends, freedom and future feuds, faithfully yours,

      Whodat

      • Brian H

        Thank You, Whodat. I did not intend “Cainiac” to be taken as an insult. It was just a clever attempt to label his followers with a catchy slogan.

  • Chris

    I think there seems to be an inevitability about Gov Romney winning the nomination right now, I think some of the other horses, namely Cain right now are looking rosy, but Gov Romney’s consistency in the polls and the debates probably gets him there. I don’t see any great surprises. He is probably the only one of the horses with a realistic shot of unseating the President too.

    Does anyone else think that a Romney Administration might be a little….dull?

    • dw

      A Romney Administration sounds a lot like Obama-lite.
      .
      But, I do agree with the rankings. PD editors have explained how they take a lot of factors into consideration, so I can accept the rankings as is.

  • Whodat

    As usual, I tuned in early to Fox & Friends this morning to get a look at Gretchen’s legs, but had to endure an interview with Jason. He was shamelessly promoting his new wuss-chick-book about marriage letters or something I would never read, and his political blog which several of us keep afloat.
    .
    What I learned was that Jason’s wife had finally settled for him around closing time somewhere (way too much bottled water, I’m sure) – this as metaphor for the Romneycare last-man-standing strategy. And, I learned that Jason loves his neighbor, but would not support that neighbor for president – this as metaphor for the likeability of Herman Cain, but discomfort with his positions or his articulation thereof… (Personally, I would like to know the neighbors stand on abortion, on Romney-Obombacare, on Gitmo, on 9-9-9 et al…
    .
    The ratings are very close and what we would expect from somebody who has been carrying Romneycare’s bottled water for five years, but I suggest a couple of changes:
    .
    To show Romneycare with arrows going this way and that way would be accurate if it was a visual of his stands on issues. However, to accurately represent his campaign, I think a CIRCLE would be more appropriate. He is about where he was a year ago, six months ago, a month ago. He keeps circling in the same spot.
    .
    On Perry, he gets an even? Getoutahere! Hey, he has been dropping like a rock! I admit, he could drop a long way before he would fall below Newtered or Ron Paul, but only Tiger Woods has dropped faster than this turkey. So, the this way –that way symbol should be an anchor – headed down.

    • Brian H

      You are taking the rating way to personal.
      .
      By any reasonable and honest assessment one would have to put Romney at the top. I know many in this forum hate to accept that reality, and perhaps, they might successfully unseat Mitt from the top of the rankings, thus putting an unskilled amateur in the ring against Obama, but, as for now, Mitt is ranked exactly where he deserves to be.
      .
      Perry gets an even because he has stabilized after his cardiac arrest of boot in mouth disease.
      .

      • Alaina

        We could charge you with the same… Being unable to accept Cain’s position in the polls.

        • Red State Eddie

          Brian? Get personal? Perish the thought!

        • Brian H

          I have no idea for what you speak because I have never claimed Cain’s position in the polls were not accurate. Not ever.
          .
          Please limit criticisms of my political analysis to the thoughts I have actually expressed. My criticisms of Cain are based on his amateurish and novice responses to easy questions. I have never challenged the legitimacy of the polls.

          • Alaina

            Relax Brian… I’m just playing devil’s advocate…
            .
            You said, “By any reasonable and honest assessment one would have to put Romney at the top. I know many in this forum hate to accept that reality…”
            .
            If you look at the polls, they indicate otherwise (at this time). Cain is up according to the RCP average so we could accuse you of not reasonably and accurately assessing the current situation.

            • Brian H

              I agree that Cain is up in polling. The rankings have and should take that into consideration. Money and organization matter as well. If Cain improves his message delivery he may have a shot.

        • Brian H

          The Cainiacs are starting to get as thinned skinned as the Paulites. Turning political analysis into whining.

          • Alaina

            I don’t think anyone is upset here about anything but you…. As you told PK…. Have a sense of humor…. We’re just having a discussion here.

            • Promise Kept

              It’s okay with me, Alaina, when Brian calls me thin-skinned. I trust that the rest of the readership here on the PD will be able to weigh the differences between us, whether they agree with either of us, or not.

              BTW, I still find your analysis of things more even-handed than Brian’s, most often.

          • dw

            Paulites, Caniacs… what name do you have for Romney supporters? Perhaps Mittaholics ;-)

            • Brian H

              “Republican Establishment”…or “RINOs”

  • HB

    what a joke. as is the depraved and corrupt system we call the fed government.

    • Gary Russell

      Yep, but it’s still beats anything else in the world, doesn’t it?

      • German Observer

        No, it doesn’t beat anything in the world. All elected representatives, from comgressmen, over senators up to the president depend on external funding (spell: are bribed). Better systems exist. Definetly.
        .
        By the way, I would put Ron Paul third. At least! :-)

        • Alaina Segovia

          What’s an example of a better system that is currently in use?

          • Red State Eddie

            “A narco-syndicous commune, where we take it in turn to act as sort of an officer for the week. But all the decisions of that officer have to be ratified at a special bi-weekly meeting by a simple majority, in the case of purely internal affairs or by a two-thirds majority, in the case of external affairs.”

            – Holy Grail. Timeless.

        • Brian H

          Really? Dick Cheney left a $25 million a year job to serve as VP for 8 years making $200,000. How much bribery do you think he was enticed with? That is foolish absurd cynical and stereotypical view. Most of these individuals are highly successful and self-created wealthy prior to getting into politics. Most could easily earn more $$$$ outside in the private sector.

          Now, in Europe, where upward mobility among the peasants is almost impossible, yes, I assume politics and political power is a way to increase self worth in societies that restrict it due to their intrusive policies into the private sector.

        • Gary Russell

          And that’s where you’d be wrong, G.O.

        • Chris

          To be fair, I doubt that any of us are sufficiently well versed on all the political systems across the world to be able to say for sure that one is better, or one is worse (blind nationalism often claims that one’s own system is the best)

          I think G.O.’s point comes down to the ability of lobby groups and special interests to donate to campaign funds and so influence votes in Congress. In the US, that is called free speech, in Britain and many parts of Europe (I dont know about Germany, maybe G.O. can advise), it would be considered corruption

          • German Observer

            Thanks Chris, for clarifying my point. As you are more articulate than me, you brought to the spot, what I wanted to say.
            .
            Of course you have a hard time to do legislation against, say the oil-industry (exchange for which ever industry you want), when those were the guys who funded your campaign.
            .
            A working system would forbid any kind of private campaign-funding.
            .
            And, no Brian H, that’s not what I meant. I know very well, that the far most politicians would earn quite better in the private sector, than in politics. We have the same discussion over here over and over again.

            • dw

              Good point, GO. And, the elimination of lobbyists is just another wonderful side effect of eliminating the IRS and replacing the system with the FairTax.

  • Gary Russell

    If we’re staying true to the statement that the Derby updates are a “snapshot” of the race at the current moment, and NOT a predictor of the ultimate victor, then you’ve got the top two reversed.
    .
    While Romney is still more likely to win it than Cain, Romney is not beating Cain at this particular moment.

    • David Kaiser, Editor

      No doubt its really, really close right now Gary, and you can absolutely make a case for Cain in the top spot.

      Here’s why I think Romney’s still leading by a nose:

      1. They are basically tied in the national polls, they are close in Iowa, and Romney has a huge lead in New Hampshire.

      2. According to Q3 data, Romney has $14 million cash on hand and Cain has only $1.3 million. Along with this, Romney has a far more proven track record as a fund raiser than does Cain.

      3. While Romney had his most uneven debate performance last time around, Cain’s performance was not good.

      Again, its basically neck-and-neck, but this is why I put Romney slightly ahead at this moment.

      • http://scottslant.blogspot.com/ Scott A. Robinson

        It depends on which polls you look at. Most of the time the two of them are within the margin of error, so, depending on the poll, you can take their individual result +/- 3-5 points.

  • Brian H

    The track handicappers are getting better and better. This Derby update is 100%. I would not change a thing.

    Nice job.