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
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Four years ago, Mitt Romney spent millions, hired 50 staffers and bought a bucket of hair gel. This earned him 25% of the vote in the Iowa Caucus, finishing second. This year, Romney spent less money, had a vastly reduced staff, and ditched the hair gel, which got him 25% of the vote and the victor’s crown. Here’s a man who knows how to cut the excess and come out on top! Romney did well because he beat expectations, the polar opposite of what happened there in 2008.


Who says hard work doesn’t pay off? By raising barns, going to the general store, picking corn (pay attention Huntsman), and walking barefoot across every dirt road in sight, Rick Santorum came within eight votes of a stunning victory in Iowa. It is safe to say that when the last round of Anybody But Romney Musical Chairs ended, Ricky slid right into the last chair with Ron Paul landing on his lap a half second behind. Moving Santorum into the second position was a difficult decision, based largely on Iowa. But for at least one week, he’s Romney’s top challenger.


So close, yet so far for Ron Paul. He did break 20%, but the vaunted get out the vote operation blew a tire in the home stretch, dropping from a lead in the polls just days before the caucus to a mildly disappointing third place. He slips to third in the Power Rankings, and if he can’t find a way to finish a respectable second to the Romney juggernaut in New Hampshire, well, let’s just say it’s Live Free or Die for Dr. Paul.


If Newt becomes this angry from being picked on a little by Romney, what will he do when the entire left is focused against him? He can’t out-debate public opinion. Besides, Obama would never be stupid enough to agree to a Lincoln-Douglas style debate with him, so you can throw that argument out. But the harm Gingrich did to his campaign went beyond dropping to fourth, because the whiny, angry speech he gave Tuesday night made him look petty and spiteful.


We all thought Perry was done after a fifth place finish in Iowa a trip home to Texas to “reassess” his campaign. But like a boxer picking himself off the mat at a nine count, Perry tweeted that he was pushing on to South Carolina, where he believes he can appeal to the heavy population of southern evangelicals. By staying in the race, Perry is doing one person a favor: Mitt Romney. Turning to South Carolina, Perry may siphon off just enough Christian conservative voters and both of Scott’s friends to let Mitt take the Palmetto State.


What can you say when you’re still behind a guy 99 percent of Americans thought was dropping out Tuesday night? He is banking on a Santorum-like surge in New Hampshire to buoy his months-long last place standing. But realistically for Huntsman, it may be as simple as this: Iowa picks corn. New Hampshire ends his campaign.