2012 GOP Presidential Power Rankings, FoxSports-style

(I tried this before the primaries with no success. So now that the 2010 election is over, let’s try an updated version!)

Any of you sports fans have certainly seen the Power Rankings for MLB, NCAA football, and other sports at the FoxSports site (among others). The NBA even has their own. So I thought it might be fun to start posting a 2012 GOP Presidential Nomination Power Rankings.

The purposes of these Power Rankings are simple:

  • Have fun!
  • Spark discussion
  • Track ups and downs of the 2012 GOP race

The sports power rankings are basically one man (or woman)’s opinion and are completely meaningless. Just like these rankings! These are not meant to be predictive. They are just meant to be a snapshot of current sentiments. Candidates who are ranked highly now may not run, or they may fade. New candidates will show up. My plan (assuming anybody cares enough to read and/or comment on these!) is to update them roughly monthly until the 2012 campaign starts to heat up. Then maybe bi-weekly or even weekly.

I should also point out that these rankings are strictly my impressions of who is in the best position vis-a-vis the GOP nomination race. I make no statement about who should get the nomination or who would have the best chance to beat Obama.

Finally, please take these as they are intended, just to have a little fun. If you think I’m wrong or nuts, please (respectfully) comment as such. If I’m leaving out your favorite potential candidate, add a comment to that effect.

Maybe I’ll even add some odds once we get closer! (No wagering, please.)

azaeroprof’s 2012 GOP Presidential Power Rankings

Rank Candidate Prev Rank Comment

Mitt Romney
1 Still most organized and well-funded. 2008 experience. Runs a slight Number 1 in most of the early polls. Still has that RomneyCare albatross around his neck. Closest to a concensus front-runner at this point, which probably works against him.

Sarah Palin
2 Clearly has the most devoted and largest following of any potential candidates. Conservative rock star. Still has work to do to appeal to moderates and beef up her policy resume. Has done nothing but raise her stock during the 2010 midterms. Book coming out next week will get her more attention. Even Joe Biden cautions against underestimating her. Well, on second thought,…

Rick Perry
3 Solid re-election, the strength of the Texas economy and Perry’s ability to remain a popular governor through two full terms work to his favor. Despite his protestations to the contrary, his recent public statements indicate he is definitely thinking national politics.

Mitch Daniels
4 May be the nation’s most successful and competent governor. Turned Indiana’s fiscal ship around during a horrible recession. Not the most charismatic guy, but America may well be ready for boring after 4 years of Obama’s left-wing drama queen act. Criticisms of social conservatives may make it tougher for him to come out of GOP nomination fight.

Chris Christie
15 Not exactly Mr. Attractive TV candidate, but you sure cannot discount his ability to get elected in a tough environment for Republicans. And then to turn around and govern like a Conservative! His early success in New Jersey has made him a darling among many in the GOP already.

Haley Barbour
7 Anyone else like Barbour could be discounted as too good-ole Southern boy. But Barbour cannot be ignored based on his success as Mississippi governor, especially in the face of natural disasters, and his longstanding party leadership. He probably has more chits and favors owed to him than any other potential candidate, and his leadership of the RGA showed he has no interest in resting on his laurels.

Newt Gingrich
6 Despite his baggage and bizarre tendency to stray off the Conservative reservation from time to time, Newt remains a powerful force and eloquent spokesman for the movement. As he has grayed, he has mellowed and made his personality a little more sugar and less vinegar to the center and left voters. Still an idea machine and someone to watch for a veep nod if he doesn’t secure the nomination.

Jon Hunstman, Jr.
5 Popular former governor of Utah. Thought by many to have quelled presidential aspirations when he accepted Obama’s appointment as U.S. Ambassador to China. I don’t think so. This may actually position him well to be seen as bipartisan. Being from Utah may make him a little more palatable to conservatives as well. Someone to watch.

Mike Huckabee
8 One of the big 3 in early polls, but I don’t see him as a serious contender. His best bet was against McCain in ’08, but he “didn’t wear well in the wash.” Definitely appeals to SoCons, but his fiscal conservative bonafides are questionable.

Tim Pawlenty
9 Yes, he has been an effective governor elected twice in one of the most Democratic states (from a POTUS perspective anyway). But he just doesn’t generate the kind of excitement and buzz among grassroots Repubs and Conservatives (though this does seem to be increasing), and this is a requirement to get the kind of support required. Would likely rank higher on a list of Who would do well in a general election? ranking, but this is not the purpose here.

Mike Pence
11 Well-liked by the conservative movement types, but still very unknown outside of Indiana. Jumping from the House of Representatives to President is a huge jump, so he is not likely a threat to win. But if he resonates with the national voters and makes a splash, he could be a contender for the #2 spot.

Bobby Jindal
14 Is starting to show signs that he may run. Tanked in his big-time premier. But his record and fairly high national name recognition may give him a mulligan. If he can shore up his rhetoric and display more of a fire in his belly, he could be a player (if he chooses).

John Thune
10 Attractive, though largely unknown, candidate. Giant-killer from knocking off Tom Daschle, Thune has built up support within the GOP. As Romney, Palin and some others flirt with overexposure, Thune may be a refreshing new face for the public to get to know. What we don’t know at this point is whether the voters outside of South Dakota will love him or be indifferent to him.

Scott Brown
13 Still new, too liberal, and unknown interest. But he’s as close as we have to being a #2 rock star after Sarah Palin. If he could endear himself to Conservatives enough to be in contention for the nomination, he could be a heavyweight in the general. But Conservatives will likely rule the nomination process, which doesn’t bode well for his chances. VP maybe?

Liz Cheney
12 OK, I know many of you here at RedState would like to see her rated more highly. And she is one of our most effective critics of the Obama admin. Still, her last name is Cheney and that will continue to be a net minus among the larger population of voters. And like many of the folks on this list, we don’t even know if she is interested in running. Hasn’t shown any particular interest in running.