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


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 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.


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 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.


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.


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.
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.
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.