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
Romney

Mitt
Romney

Mitt’s campaign has had more rapid ups and downs than a Shake Weight commercial. He won the majority of the states and popular vote on Super Tuesday and he won the most competitive race in Ohio. His reward? A chorus of “He can’t win” from candidates who win less often.

Santorum Rick
Santorum

Rick has another chance to slow Romney’s inevitability argument in the next slate of races: Kansas, Alabama and Mississippi. He probably needs to win all three to make his case and the latest polling in Alabama shows a very tight, neck and neck (or v-neck and sweater vest) race.

Gingrich Newt
Gingrich

Newt won Georgia, as expected, but did poorly in Tennessee and Oklahoma. In related news, Gingrich recently fell asleep on camera at the AIPAC Conference. It’s only fair, he’s been putting viewers to sleep with his election night speeches for months.

Paul

Ron
Paul

Ron is leaking oil — badly. He’s trailing the delegate race, he has the least number of popular votes, and his campaign-affiliated Super PAC is looking to scale back funding. The good news is that he’s won the same number of states as Pawlenty, Huntsman, Cain, Perry and Bachmann — combined.


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

Newt
Gingrich

Thus far, debates are the biggest story of this primary cycle. They turned Rick Perry from a front runner to a bumbling fool and lifted Newt from has-been to front runner. An interesting exercise in physics would be comparing the size of Newt's head from the first debate to the most recent. If he wins the nomination, he should give John King any job in the administration he wants.

Mitt
Romney

Not releasing his tax returns before South Carolina - or simply having a better answer to the question - may have been the biggest blunder since Gerry Ford declared "There is no Soviet domination in Eastern Europe, and there will never be under a Ford administration.” Everyone outside of the Gingrich family still believe that Romney remains better positioned for a long 50-state campaign, but the inevitability label is shredded.

Rick
Santorum

Leading up to South Carolina, Santorum was the Tim Tebow of the GOP race. He exceeded expectations in his first contest, got evangelicals excited about his chances, and was promptly crushed by a pretty boy from New England. He did beat Ron Paul in South Carolina and leads him in Florida, but Paul undoubtedly has a better plan and structure to win delegates moving forward. If he believes the nominee should be an ABR, is it time to step aside and endorse Newt?

Ron
Paul

His campaign to win the nomination is effectively over. Moving on, his objective is pile up delegates and to promote his agenda at the GOP convention. Paul has been completely shortchanged in debate speaking time, though even he admitted his speaking style for said debates isn't exactly flattering. Some think he's a Kingmaker, but many Paul supporters say it's the good doctor or nothing.


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

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.

Rick
Santorum

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.

Ron
Paul

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.

Newt
Gingrich

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.

Rick
Perry

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.

Jon
Huntsman

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.


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.

Read more


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

Newt
Gingrich

As Rick Perry and Herman Cain did before him, Gingrich seems to have peaked, driven by the additional focus on his past, reminding people of some of his controversial, if not anti-conservative positions. The master debater does seem to have a rebuttal for every position-based attack thrown his way because when you’ve spent 30 years in Congress, odds are good you’ve voted on both sides of many issues. However, if we wake up one morning to find Newt Gingrich and Howard Stern sitting on a couch discussing who’s got talent, all bets are off.

Mitt
Romney

Is Romney a liberal who is trying to win the GOP nomination as a conservative or is he a conservative who had to run as a liberal to have a chance at governing a liberal state? This is at the core Republicans’ struggle with Romney. But the thing Romney does well, other than picking hair gel, is exude the confidence and air of a leader that makes Americans feel comfortable with him.

Ron
Paul

Despite sitting in the third position, Dr. Paul remains several lengths behind the leaders. They say slow and steady wins the race, but when you are three laps behind nearing the final turn you’ll never catch up. Additionally, the preponderance of debates this cycle putting Paul on television more often has brought far more memories of Richard M. Nixon versus John F. Kennedy than Paul can withstand.

Rick
Perry

During the Iowa debate, Perry agreed with the moderator that he was not a good debater. Despite trying to acknowledge his faults, this is no small fault. It’s like saying, “I’m not very smart and I make poor decisions underpressure, but you should make me commander-in-chief of the world’s most powerful military.”

Michele
Bachmann

If Bachmann would have been as assertive, direct, concise, and clear in earlier debates as she was last night, she might still be a top two candidate in Iowa, as she was in September. Word is, she will next try to garner some of what would have been the Sarah Palin vote by mixing in some “you betchas” next time.
Rick
Santorum
The candidate who is acknowledged to have spent the most time in Iowa is likely to finish sixth out of seven candidates. If you can’t win a primary election when you’ve visited every county in a small, early primary state, you might want to reconsider and run for HOA President.
Jon
Huntsman
The second choice behind Romney to fix the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, Huntsman was reportedly rather bitter. So how will he react when he is the fifth or sixth choice after Romney in the Republican primaries? Maybe he’ll pack up and move back to China.


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

Newt
Gingrich

Despite being more chameleon than Newt, Gingrich is leading in Iowa, gaining ground in New Hampshire and running with confidence. Apparently all past indiscretions have suddenly been forgotten as the master debater is the latest to surge to the top. Is Newt really what the country wants or is timing merely on his side?

Mitt
Romney

If Newt is a chameleon, Romney is a changeling. When the button-up candidate from four years ago is now rarely seen in public with his ideally knotted tie or trademark perfect hair, what can you believe in? Now, for the first time since 2009, Mitt is staring at another horse’s backside. He still has more money and a better ground organization, but if Newt wins Iowa and pulls a stunner in New Hampshire, it is game over.

Empty
Horse

This is quickly becoming the two-man race long predicted. How many jockeys can fall off? Will Fred Thompson suddenly announce he is running again? Can Ann Coulter’s deepest desire be fulfilled by Chris Christie suddenly changing his mind?

Ron
Paul
Paul has polled in the neighborhood of 8-10 percent since he ran against George Washington. Can Paul win Iowa and see his standing in New Hampshire improve as a result? Anything is possible. Can he win the nomination? Well, almost anything is possible.
Rick
Perry
The Texas governor looks more comfortable now that he’s trailing and carrying zero expectations. If he’d run this way early on and dropped the arrogant swagger, he might not be stuck in the mud. Then again, if he could have come prepared and caffeinated to even one debate he would have had a chance.
Michele
Bachmann
The Congresswoman from Minnesota clutches onto visions of an Iowa win where she’s running fourth. A miracle win at the kick-off caucus keeps her in the race, otherwise the field will likely narrow further.
Rick
Santorum
Santorum has been in Iowa so long, he qualifies for in-state tuition. His reward? 6 percent! He and Bachmann were endorsed by a key Iowa evangelical leader, as a team. Didn’t know you could team up to win the nomination, did you?
Jon
Huntsman
It might be time to return to the barn when the only attractive things about your campaign are your daughters web videos. But as long as pops keeps pumping dough into the campaign, why not carry on?

 


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.

Editors’ Note: The Rankings will be updated twice a month, once in this brief format listing the top-tier candidates, and once in a full tip sheet format listing all major declared candidates.


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

After trailing Perry since August 24th, Romney has finally inched back into the lead, both in the national polling averages and where it matters most: The 2012 Power Rankings. While his campaign might not have the passion of a teenage romance, he’s quietly become the old pair of horsehide gloves — well-worn, broken-in and very familiar. With Iowa less than 90 days away, Romney looks content to run the rail at the same speed from start-to-finish and let the horse chips fall where they may.

2 Herman
Cain

The “Pay as you Go!” conservative breeders of the GOP finally have a candidate to bet the farm on. The latest not-Romney firebrand, Herman “999” Cain is believed by some to be one who could just cut the federal budget down from deep dish to thin and crispy. As the only other non-career politician in the race, he does not have previous votes or policies to run from. However, he also lacks the political network of friends in low places to keep his war chest full.

Rick
Perry

Perry’s staff could see huge bonuses after a fantastic fundraising quarter. The bad news is that Perry’s staff might see huge bonuses once this horse is put out to pasture. There’s still some time for Perry to find a path to the nomination that avoids a Fred Thompson-style meltdown, but at his pace he could run out of track long before Iowa. No matter what, the two men are likely to share at least one attribute. It’s their love of acting on television: Thompson as a District Attorney; Perry as a conservative.

Ron
Paul
Paul is, without a doubt, the most consistent horse in the 2012 race. One year ago, Paul averaged 7.7 in the national polls. Today, after a year of campaigning, fundraising and winning straw polls, he averages 8.0. Perhaps most impressively, his positions are unchanged since he first debated them with Susan B. Anthony.


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

Rick
Perry

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.

Mitt
Romney

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.

Ron
Paul

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
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.

Newt
Gingrich

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.

Michele
Bachmann

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.
Rick
Santorum
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.
Jon
Huntsman
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.


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

Rick
Perry

In just a matter of weeks, the Texas governor has gone from an unannounced, hypothetical horse to the frontrunner. Perry's bounced so high, he's been offered an endorsement deal with the fabric softener. He's got the looks and Texas swagger that has many conservatives swooning, but can you hear the whispers in the Lone Star State that his conservative creds aren't all they seem? Today he's in the lead, even after an uneven debate performance, but the next few weeks will tell us if he's really the jogger or the unlucky coyote.

Mitt
Romney

For the first time since the end of 2008, Romney is no longer in the top spot. Will his strategy of going "all in" to win New Hampshire pay off, or will Romney's chapter in the history's presidential campaign textbook come right after "The Great '08 Collapse of Fred Thompson" and "Rudy Giuliani Busts in the Sunshine State?" Perhaps the better questions are these: Does Romney actually look more comfortable drafting Perry than leading him? Is he secretly donating to Bachmann's campaign?

Ron
Paul

This is the highest Ron Paul has been ranked in the six-year history of the Power Rankings. Take a deep breath, Paul haters, and acknowledge out loud that the good doctor is currently third in the RCP national averages ahead of Bachmann, Gingrich, etc. Everyone knows the key for Paul will be to buck the trend of straw poll wins and money bombs and actually produce votes that count in a caucus or primary.

Michelle
Bachmann
Bachmann has faded from an impressive victory at Ames to the middle of the pack. Her buzz-worthy news-cycle has vanished faster than a Solyndra loan. She was a no–show in the Reagan Presidential Library debate but feisty in the first Florida debate. Can she stall the slide on a muddy track? Without a quick turnaround, she's likely to be best remembered for promising $2 gas when everyone knows Taco Bell offers the same thing for only a buck.
5

Herman
Cain

Cain is establishing himself as the top lower-tier candidate, polling ahead of the likes of Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Jon Huntsman in the early primaries. He's had Jekyll and Hyde debate performance, peddling his “9-9-9” tax plan, but at times sounding confused on other issues. It's still a long road for the "Godfather of Pizza" to have any sniff at the nomination, but with his Tea Party ties and strong business background, Cain could find himself in the VP discussion, serving as the breadsticks to the eventual deep dish nominee.

Newt
Gingrich

If the nomination was all about debate performance, Newt would be Secretariat, Seabiscuit and Smarty Jones all wrapped up in one super-horse package. But since his campaign staff is probably being run by college interns, he looks more suited for the glue factory than the winners circle. We've occasionally channeled John McCain's Lazarus-like rise from a trouble campaign to the 2008 nominee. But it ain't happening this time. Can you say, Secretary of State or Chief-of-Staff?
Rick
Santorum
On paper, Santorum isn't a great candidate. In reality, he's even worse. He only avoids the back of the track because at least he's still got a following of social conservatives in Iowa and has produced a handful of shining moments in the early debates. PD suggests he has an outside chance of a respectable finish in Iowa, if he can marshal up enough social conservatives who disagree with the rest of the planet that this election is all about the economy.
Jon
Huntsman
Huntsman's national polling average is 1.5%. If an actual horse stood on a bale of hay and announced a campaign for the nomination, he would poll higher. The former Utah governor's invisibility in this race and inability to find traction is something historians will likely examine for years to come. After all, he has everything Republicans are looking for, except any semblance of being one.


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

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.

Michele
Bachmann

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.

Rick
Perry

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?

Ron
Paul
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?
5

Herman
Cain

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
Gingrich

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.
Rick
Santorum
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.
Jon
Huntsman
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.


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

As the classic potential Republican frontrunning nominee, Romney is likely to raise more money in the second quarter than the other horses combined. This is critical in a rich race which could cost nearly as much as the incumbent president has spent on greens fees. It helps that Romney carries the perception of having paid his proverbial “dues” and that he looks the part. This means nothing in terms of actual abilities, but in the real world, appearance matters. Just ask Pippa Middleton. If not for Romneycare, Mitt would cruise to the nomination. But if Pawlenty and the other chasers don’t frame the debate better, he’ll cruise anyway. Prediction: Runs from the front to convention.

2 Tim
Pawlenty

Pawlenty’s performance in the first full-debate was widely panned. His stumbling refusal to punch again with his own term, ObamneyCare, made him look like the bashful high school freshman who only takes shots at the jocks when they’re not around. Pawlenty remains a top-tier candidate, for now, because he’s surrounded by a strong, well-regarded team and should raise enough money to race the full track. But so far the former governor’s brand can be summed up as nice, affable populist midwesterner. That gets you elected governor of Minnesota, not president of the United States. Prediction: Will Fade.

Michele
Bachmann

Even Democrats seemed shocked by Bachmann’s surprise campaign announcement and strong performance in the CNN debate. She can’t hide a relatively thin resume and prefab talking-points style that could prove problematic. But if she wins the Ames Straw Poll and performs well in the upcoming debates, she could quickly pass Pawlenty as the ABR horse (Anybody But Romney). It helps that she has the persona of a candidate who eats people who once supported cap and trade for breakfast. Prediction: Wins Iowa.

4 Chris
Christie
The more he says no, the more some Republicans pine for Christie. This refusal to run may be his greatest popularity tool. He reminds you of the collegiate national player of the year declining to turn pro by saying he’s going back for his senior year to finish what he started. But could he be talked into the draft if he’s projected high enough? Perhaps. Still, as the only leader in America to ever intimidate a teacher’s union, Christie is probably genuine when he says he wants to “fix New Jersey first…” He just doesn’t finish with the rest of what he’s thinking: “…then run for President in 2016”. Prediction: Stays in the stall.
5

Sarah
Palin

Palin is either not running for president or running the most bizarre, unorthodox campaign in history. She emerged from the massive email dump a winner, but her negatives, even among republicans, remain high. Should she ever declare, she’ll raise plenty of money and enjoy a quick bump in the polls, thus the top five ranking. But the other horses can’t wait to remind her that she’s been riding a bus and selling books longer than she actually served as governor. Prediction: Bedazzles her stall, but doesn’t run.

Ron
Paul

Ron Paul may have the most loyal, dedicated supporters in the history of politics. They’re passionate, generally well-informed, and willing to stand on the front lines. So why can’t Paul win? Because they’re simply aren’t enough of them. Despite his best efforts, Paul has a ceiling of support that precludes him from ever winning anything but a congressional election or Celebrity Apprentice. His 2012 campaign is nothing more than an educational platform meant to pave the way for Rand in 2016 or 2020. Prediction: Runs and loses all the way to convention.

Jon
Huntsman

You wouldn’t necessarily know it from his interviews, but like Romney, Huntsman is a lifelong Mormon. He appears moderate, has cash, gravitas, problem-solving credibility, and a look that screams “I am the President of the United States, please bring me jello.” So what does he offer GOP voters that Romney doesn’t? Leather, Mandarin Chinese fluency and a biker tan? Prediction: Fades before the NH snow falls.
8 Herman
Cain
Cain can be entertaining and engaging. But does turning around Godfather’s Pizza make you a viable choice for president? Sure, his numbers are on the rise and he’s a fresh voice in a soundbite-riddled field. But it’s impossible to imagine America is ready to elect an(other) unknown African-American with zero foreign policy experience. Prediction: Runs out of cash and hay.
Newt
Gingrich
Newt’s campaign organization and personal focus couldn’t get him elected sixth-grade class treasurer. The good news for Newt is that his wife and daughters didn’t resign en masse with the rest of his senior team. The bad news is that the worst ever national campaign based in Atlanta is no longer New Coke. Prediction: Glue factory.

Rick
Santorum

The only political mystery greater than Santorum’s candidacy is why the women who received the Weiner Twitter pics haven’t gone blind. It’s difficult to grasp the motive and strategy behind a candidate who was trounced in his home state by Bob Casey, a guy with a unibrow so thick he has to brush it before bed. The only GOP candidate less likely to win an election in 2012 is Ronald Reagan. Prediction: Trips on the gate.


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
1

Sarah
Palin

The year 2011 will define Palin, but neither as a Fox News personality, nor as the hostess with the mostest walking us through the wilds of Alaska. No, 2011 will be the year she defines herself as a potential candidate for President of the United States. The you betchya’s and why donchya’s are starting to age like a fine loaf of bread, and six out of 10 Americans say they wouldn’t even consider voting for her. Worse, her year started with the media suggesting she was responsible for the Tucson shootings, then griping that she inserted herself into the story by responding to their accusations. On the other hand, Palin tolerated Kate Gosselin’s company for an entire afternoon, people. An entire afternoon! Don’t count on her taking her ‘prom hair’ back home.

Mitt
Romney

While the media isn’t following him around to see where he buys toilet paper like Palin, Mittens had a pretty solid year, doing the good little soldier bit for the GOP all while applying touch-up to his personality flaws, particularly his penchant for getting a bit prickly when challenged in a debate setting. While Romney hasn’t gotten the love (cough) from the media that Palin has, he’s doing all the things a serious candidate for the Republican nomination should, like trying to spin his biggest anchor, RomneyCare, into something that won’t sink him.

3 Mike
Huckabee

He took a job on Fox News (seems to be a prerequisite for 2012 candidates) and moved to Florida. These moves seemed to indicate he’s not running. Then you look at the polls, which he’s consistently topped or been near the top since Obama took office. Still, the question of whether or not Huckabee will run remains the unanswered question of our time – well, that and how anyone thought giving Joy Behar her own show was a good idea.

Newt
Gingrich
Newt’s friends say he’s serious about running in 2012. His daughter said he’s serious about running in 2012. Newt said he’s serious about running in 2012. Basically, he’s suggested a presidential run about as many times as Brett Favre’s said he’s retiring. But Favre apparently means it this time, so maybe that’s a sign that Newt is ready to come off the bench. Or it could mean he’s had his head bounced off the turf a few too many times over his past personal indiscretions. Whether or not he runs, Newt at least looks like he’s putting the pads on.

Ron
Paul

The Paul family celebrated another of their clan in the hallowed halls of the Capitol with son Rand’s successful bid to become senator from Kentucky. Dr. No and his sidekick are so fiscally conservative that they’re sharing a condo in D.C. Anyone else see the possibilities of a fundraiser disguised as a reality show here? Wire that condo up with a bunch of webcams and charge $3.99 an hour to see the Paul boys streaming live. It may not be as exciting as a condo with a few Kennedys and a case of scotch, but it should make for some interesting viewing. Sorta.
6

Tim
Pawlenty

We’ve been a little hard on T-Paw in the past few editions of the Power Rankings. We’ve called him vanilla ice cream. We said that an appearance on ‘Sesame Street’ would cause a pandemic of narcolepsy among children. We even revealed that he once had a mullet. So our New Year’s resolution is to cut Pawlenty some slack, at least for this round, and try to say something positive. As soon as possible. Deadline: Iowa.
7

Jim
DeMint

Just last month, DeMint said on Fox that he is totally out of the GOP race in 2012. Hey, remember when that Senator-elect Obama guy said in November 2004 that he wouldn’t be a candidate for president in 2008? That’s pretty much where the similarities end, but you get the point. DeMint has super conservative cred, and he’s a darling of the Tea Party. He’s from the south and has helped the GOP maintain a united front against the Obama administration. DeMint has also repeatedly praised Sarah Palin, including comparing her to St. Ronald Reagan, so does that mean he won’t run against her?
Rick
Santorum
Make no mistake, Rick Santa … Santini … Santana … whatever, the dude’s running for president. In the past year and a half, he’s made seven trips each to Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. That could just mean he likes corn, maple syrup and barbecue, but let’s be serious here. Santorum is undoubtedly a major underdog here, and in the past he’s been all about the social issues, which have been stuck on the backburner since the economy tanked. Seems he’s banking on a recovery, but if that happens, is there any Republican who can beat an incumbent?
9 Mike
Pence
Quick history quiz! Name the last sitting member of the House to be elected president? The last, and only, was James Garfield of Ohio. But even then, before he was a rep, he was governor of the Buckeye State. That doesn’t preclude Pence, one of the nation’s most respected fiscal conservatives, from making a run. But lately it looks like Pence realizes he has about a good a shot at winning the nomination as Mike Gravel has of beating Obama in ’12, because the rumor mill says he could run for governor of Indiana, which could set him up quite nicely in 2016.
54

Donald
Trump

Yes, we know we’ve ranked him 54. And yes, we mean it. He of the kajillion dollar comb-over has made noise about running, and maybe he will. But Trump running for the nomination generates about as much excitement as the guy who ran for governor of New York under the banner of ‘The Rent is Too Damn High’ party. Don’t plan on voters telling him, “You’re hired.”


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
1

Sarah
Palin

Sarah’s good summer could turn into a fantastic fall, depending on how Palin-backed candidates fair in the general elections. The most well-known is Delaware’s Christine O’Donnell, whose upset victory over the very popular Mike Castle was a jaw-dropper. The bad news for Palin? O’Donnell is down so far in the polls, she’s going to need the Chilean Phoenix capsule just to get even with opponent Chris Coons. Still, Sarah runs at the head of the track because of her endorsement record thus far, her national visibility, and her Tea Party cred.

Mitt
Romney

Yah, yah. We know. He’s not conservative enough. He isn’t doing much to help the GOP with the mid-term elections. His real name is Willard. But Romney has history and money on his side. The history, of course, is the GOP rewarding the loyal and the money appears to never run dry for the generous self-funder. The speculation is that short of smarmy text messages, a steamy mistress in some steamier South American country, or having a “macaca moment”, Romney will be a sure-bet front-runner. Could it be Mitt is privately willing the economy in the toilet so he can flex those business muscles on the trail?

3 Mewt
Gingabee

Imagine a candidate with Newt’s brain and conservative credentials and Frankenstein that to Huckabee’s moral compass and aw-shucks appeal. Now you’ve got a candidate that might just be unbeatable. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a good Frankenstein movie since Mel Brooks, and most Republicans would frown upon gene splicing and cloning, so we’re stuck with these two separately. Sure, Newt has made more passes at a campaign than Brett Favre has thrown at receivers or massage therapists, but this time he looks serious. Huck’s desire, considering the Fox News gig and his relocation to Florida, is less obvious. The latter is either a signal he’s out, or that he’s dusted off the old Rudy Giuliani “Florida first” play book.

4 Tim
Pawlenty
Pawlenty has an excitement deficit and he knows it. It seems the guy is trying to top the John Edwards-held record for longest presidential campaign that nobody cares about. Recently his marketing team pitched him appearing with Elmo and Katy Perry’s chest on Sesame Street. Unfortunately, the appearance was cancelled when the Wasilla PTA cried that Katy’s cleavage was too much for children, and children’s advocacy groups were afraid that Pawlenty’s segment would spark a nationwide wave of narcolepsy among preschoolers.
5

Chris
Christie

A new darling among conservatives, Christie’s star has risen dramatically since he became governor of New Jersey and a budget hack’n’slash maniac. Christie’s tough talk and even tougher actions have gone over surprisingly well in the normally Democratic Garden State, where the big fella maintains an approval rating over 60%. Christie even made a recent visit to Iowa, which set off a wave of speculation that he may well be considering a run, something he denies almost as often as Snookie gets arrested.


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
1

Sarah
Palin

For the first time in over year, we have a new horse at the top. Palin-backed candidates have cleaned up in the spring primary season and her appearances at Tea Party rallies generate more buzz and pop than Justin Beiber on a Red Bull binge. The criticism of her resigning as Alaska's governor has faded and she skillfully turned stalkerneighborgate into a positive. Perhaps this quote from her keynote address at the Tea Party Convention earlier this year best sums up her rise to the top of the PD rankings: "How's that hopey-changey stuff workin' out for ya?"

Mitt
Romney

Mitt's fall from the top spot isn't just about Palin, it's also tied to passage of Obama's health care plan. Mitt's own version, RomneyCare(tm), signed, sealed and delivered during his watch in Massachusetts, bears a striking resemblance to the new federal law of the land. While only true political junkies know that now, expect his opponents for the 2012 nod to spend millions educating the rest of us. Ironic that his most significant achievement during his last job could be the one that prevents him from getting the job he really wants.

3 Mike
Huckabee

Yes we know, Huckabee has said he isn't planning on running. But one day he's not running, the next he's asking to be included in favorability polls in Iowa. Somehow he makes Brett Favre look decisive. Still, the fact remains that Huck fared the best among the potential candidates in a June 12 poll that pitted him against Obama and he topped a May 12 Fox News poll as the top GOP candidate in 2012. PD still isn't convinced he'll run, but in the current snapshot, he's our show horse.

Newt
Gingrich
Newt is the guy/girl in college you had a secret crush on. Sure, you've heard rumors about a salacious past and you doubt they're marriage material. But you're willing to look past that because they flirt so well. Admit it, you know it's a long shot, but if you're a conservative, something about Newt sends a thrill up your leg. You love how he thinks, what he says, and how he operates, politically speaking. But Newt's private life makes some shudder, and his personal history won't play well in the conservative heartland. Then again, this country elected Bill Clinton - twice.

Ron
Paul

That is not a misprint, Paulites. Lay down your weapons; your guy is finally ranked for 2012. We still don't see him winning the nomination, but PD and other pundits cannot deny that as one of the inspirations of the Tea Party movement, Paul still carries a lot of clout. He'll surely be visible during his son's campaign for senate, and if Rand wins, the Paul family will have a mini-dynasty in the making and a seat at the Iowa/New Hampshire table… If they want it.


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

Forget what you’ve read, Mittens is the real winner in the Scott Brown Cinderella Story. Romney and Romney’s operatives played a major role in Brown’s campaign, and what could look better for Romney than the hottest young Republican in the party standing up a year from now and saying “I support Mitt Romney for President”. Right now, only the endorsements of Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater’s creepy Avatars would be a bigger coup for Willard.

2 Sarah
Palin

The good news for Palin is that she now has a major platform on Fox News and hours and hours of face time with voters between now and 2012. The bad news is that she now has a major platform on FoxNews and hours and hours of face time with voters between now and 2012 — and every single minute of every single hour will be on video. What are the chances she doesn’t say something bizarro that will sink her campaign before it starts?

3 Tim
Pawlenty

What can you say about Paw? He’s still a guy people seem to like, but he really isn’t doing much to shake the perception that he’s just too – uh – vanilla. Not that there’s anything wrong with vanilla. But half-a-bottle of chocolate sauce and some crushed nuts really livens up a scoop of the stuff. Pawlenty needs to find his chocolate sauce and nuts before a candidate like Butter Pecan or Rocky Road make him an afterthought in the back of the freezer.

4 Mike
Huckabee
Huck’s no longer got the market cornered as candidate-turned-Fox-News-Host-turned-potential-candidate, not with Palin’s new contract and incredible visibility with Fox. True, Huck is leading the way in a lot of the early polls, but there appears to be an enthusiasm gap. Need proof? Google ‘Huckabee 2012? and you’ll find 809K results. But Google ‘Pants on the Ground’ and you’ll find over 40 million. That’s the kind of analysis you just don’t get from Rove or Sabato.
5t

Scott
Brown
and
Rick
Santorum

The once and future senators seem to be opposite ends of the spectrum. Santorum was a leader in the GOP during much of Dubbya’s administration, but was cast aside in the backlash of 2006. Brown is the current darling of the Republican party, winning a seat that just two months ago seemed un-winnable for any Republican. Ricky has baggage, but at least has actually admitted to considering a run. Scotty has no experience on the national stage and no apparent interest, but more buzz than a Kennedy Boys Night Out and the look of a GOP centerfold. Nevertheless, if forced to split horse hairs, Ricky gets a slight edge because one would surmise that Brown won’t bite the hand that helped feed him a seat in the Senate. At least not in 2012.


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

Romney’s approval index is +12%, a number he never sniffed during his 2008 run and he’s in or near the lead in most polls for the 2012 GOP nomination. Recently the Democrats are bashing him as if it’s 2011, a sure sign they see him as a threat. Still, until he clears a few ’08 cobwebs, namely accusations of flip-flopping and the giant albatross that was “RomneyCare”, Mitt remains a very vulnerable front runner.

2 Sarah
Palin

She’s on Facebook. She’s on Twitter. She’s on MooseHunters.com. Palin’s gone more viral than the Swine Flu. Tearing pages from the Obama playbook, the hockey mom has taken her message to the fabulous interweb, stirring up debate while curled up on a couch with her laptop. The only problem? 65% of Americans don’t feel she has the ability to be an effective candidate, including 51% of Republicans. If that doesn’t turn around in the next twelve months, her 2012 campaign could be the biggest bust since Meghan McCain’s Twittergate.

3 Mike
Huckabee

There’s little doubt he’ll run again, but plenty of doubt about his ability to win. He could be dangerous in Iowa and South Carolina, but that’s where his 2008 campaign essentially ended. But no one told Huckabee, and many saw his over-stay in the campaign as a way to siphon just enough votes from personal nemesis Mitt Romney to hand the nomination to John McCain. Money was also a major issue for Huckabee last time around the track, which may explain all those commercials during his show featuring the little stack of money with googly eyes.

4 Tim
Pawlenty
Shoots from unranked to 4th, due primarily to his highly publicized decision to birth his very own bouncing baby political action committee and his hyperactive national schedule. Toss in the fact that he’s been collecting former Bush and McCain campaign operatives like Obama collects Marxist Czars, and it seems obvious the recovering mullet-wearer, soon-to-be-ex-governor-of-a-swing-state is running full throttle.
5

Rick
Santorum

How does a guy who lost his reelection bid to the senate get ranked? For one he’s actually admitted to considering a run, which is more than Jindal or Barbour can say. Good: Santorum was once high in GOP leadership and known for his effective, confrontational style, which might be just what one needs to take on Obama. Bad: He lost his US Senate seat by 17 percentage points to a man with a uni-brow. Yikes.


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

Romney's 2009 to-do list: Slip sedative in Jindal's water bottle before national debut? Check. Transfer frequent flier miles to Sanford for Argentina trip? Done. Tweet that Huntsman speaks Mandarin Chinese? Yep. Mastermind Palin's bizarre resignation as Governor? You betcha! Can any sane pundit make an argument that Mitt Romney is not the clear front runner for the 2012 nomination? He's still getting tasty mojo from activists and party leaders who appreciated his team-first response to losing to McCain and he's refilling his cash and goodwill bank accounts in hopes he can better defend the Flipper jokes. His favorability rating has spiked up 10 points since bowing out after Super Tuesday, according to Pew Research. Nothing stinky about that.

2 Mike
Huckabee

A PD source very close to Huckabee whispers that Huck is "absolutely" running again. With all due respect to our source, well duh. His everyman likability and quippy, witty debate skills should once again be a tool in finding early traction on the track. Not to mention the FoxNews gig, which is great for capturing the dozens of people huddled around their televisions watching cable news on Saturdays and Sundays. But charm and an audience may not be his biggest assets. What are the chances he disappears to Argentina and has to return home to admit an affair with a gorgeous South American beauty? Zippo. If that doesn't give you (and Argentinian women) scream-for-your-momma nightmares, nothing will.

3 Sarah
Palin

The deaths have been overwhelming. Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Billy Mays, the political careers of Mark Sanford and Sarah Palin. When will it end? Even since the resignation announcement, polls say Palin remains very popular with the grassroots. But as we learned in 2008, winning the adoration of the grassroots isn’t enough to secure a nomination. If it were, Ron Paul would have caught the confetti in Minneapolis-Saint Paul. If Palin decides to run in 2012, expect the likes of Romney and Huckabee to gut her like a fish over her experience. It’s tough to make the experience argument against your opponents in 2008 and then quit 30 months into your first term as governor before you’ve even knocked out your first box of letterhead. Nevertheless, don't underestimate the woman who can draw and quarter David Letterman during Willowgate and isn’t afraid to use words like “bull crap” in interviews.

4 Haley
Barbour
Most Americans know Barbour for his quick and strong response to the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina as governor of Mississippi. Few Americans know Barbour was accused of personally profiting from the Katrina effort. Most Americans heard that Barbour has replaced the disgraced Mark Sanford as the chair of the Republican Governors Association. Few Americans know that Barbour co-founded the second most powerful lobby firm in the nation, and that said firm has been paid millions of dollars from the tobacco industry. Anonymity has its advantages.
5 Bobby
Jindal
A host of conservatives once touted Bobby Jindal as a conservative that is bright, young and exciting. That was all BS: Before Speech. Jindal’s GOP response to Barack Obama’s first State of the Union address was about as exciting as an ABC Obamacare infomercial. It was only one performance, but in the world of politics, first impressions can be lasting impressions, which does not bode well for Jindal. Yeah yeah, we know, Billy “Comeback Kid” Clinton bounced back from a universally panned convention speech in 1988. Bobby, with all due respect, you’re no Billy.


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
1

Mark
Sanford

Governor Grassroots Darling makes his way to the front of the pack because he has the audacity to think SC might know better than Washington how to spend all that bailout booty. If he's successful in standing up to the 700,000,000-eyed stimulus monster, this shiny-toothed horse may stay out front through the first turn and be well positioned for the back stretch in 2010. If not, he could waste away faster than Katie Holmes on the cabbage soup diet.

Mitt
Romney

Mitt holds on to #2 by simply staying steady. He continues to give good speeches and they seem to only get better with practice. Did winning the CPAC straw poll for the third time in a row reassure conservatives that he might actually be the answer this go 'round? Time will tell, but for now he just needs to hope that his health care legacy in Massachusetts doesn't end up being proof that Obama's can't work.

3 Sarah
Palin

Just when her daughter and grandbaby had become yesterday's news, America's favorite moose hunter has to deal with an ex-future-son-in-law. Palin must have cringed at Bristol's comment that abstinence isn't practical. (Technically the teen was right. Studies prove it's pretty dang tough to practice abstinence as a teenager while still having sex.) Now toss in the news that the woman who previously tried to convince us that the only good earmarks are the ones used to tag caribou slyly slipped a few of her own into the ominous omnibus bill. Is it 14:59 for Sarah?

4 Mike
Huckabee
Sanford’s move to the front of the pack knocks Huck back a slot on the track. The former governor is getting plenty of face time, but a central question seems to remain for many conservatives: Huck Glib Finn the best we can do? Really? He’s certainly working hard to convince his Switzerland-sized army of Fox News viewers that the answer is a big fat yes. Good thing for Huck that Hannity or Beck aren't running.
5 Bobby
Jindal
Bobby breaks back into the front five by embracing the any-publicity-is-good-publicity axiom. Jindal gave the GOP response to President Obama's pseudo State of the Union speech and took a beating from the national press that even Chris Brown could be proud of. But while it wasn’t exactly must-see TV, it did have a Norman Gentle quality to it. Hard to watch; hard to look away. The good news is he’s performed better of late on Larry King, 60 Minutes, etc. The bad news is that unless he sprouts a second head that can speak something other than wonkese, he will never be a match for Obama. Or Romney, for that matter.


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
1

Sarah
Palin

When in history has a losing Vice Presidential candidate done more interviews during the 60 days after an election than during the 60 days prior to the election? She’s the only woman on TV more than Heidi Montag. While she’s not exactly running away from the other 2012 contenders, she’s still the frontrunner by default. So until someone else comes along who can field dress a moose in shorter time, with a wink to boot, the current Governor of Alaska maintains the lead.

Mitt
Romney

Politics is all about branding and Romney still has an image problem. Is he a Genuine Conservative and Economic Genius or just a Political Opportunist? Because fair or not, his 2008 opponents very successfully sewed ‘flip-flopper’ labels in all those crisp white shirts. The bad news? If he has to readdress all over again the questions of his ‘evolving’ positions, he’ll never run past the first straw poll. The good news? Between now and the next Republican National Convention, he could have enough grandchildren to secure the nomination on a simple floor vote.

3

Mike
Huckabee

Anyone who thinks Huckabee signaled disinterest in 2012 by launching his FoxNews show needs to watch his recent interview with Ann Coulter. Huckabee put on a vigorous, passionate defense of his conservative DNA more convincing than anything seen during campaign ’08. Watch for Huck to position himself as a vocal opponent of Obama on social issues, particularly abortion. And use Sharpie on your January 2012 calendar, you’re guaranteed to see Huckabee in Iowa and New Hampshire.

4 Mark
Sanford
Sanford, the new Republican Governor’s Association Chairman, has the southern charm and accent that would make for a stark comparison to the Hollywood glitz of Obama. He also has most of what Governor Palin offers. He’s a grassroots darling, he’s bucked his own party over principle, and has solid conservative credentials across the board. What he doesn’t have is a view of Russia from his front porch.
5 Tim
Pawlenty
Pawlenty supplants Governor Bobby Jindal in the 5 spot. It’s difficult to imagine Pawlenty on a debate stage next to BO, but Pawlenty does have a taste for the attack and might make for a suitable Dole — err, sacrificial lamb — if BO’s reelection seems assured. Who knows, if Minnesota can send Stuart Smalley to Washington, surely they can send an actual human.