Monday Fix: The GOP top 10 for 2012, Thune's possible warning shot for Romney

Sunday, December 19, 2010; 7:59 PM


"But let me make one thing very clear,Mr. President: Advocating against this tax proposal is to advocate for a tax increase."

- Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), making comments that many saw as critical of potential presidential primary opponent Mitt Romney, an opponent of the tax-cut deal. Thune later said he wasn't targeting Romney.


This week the long-dormant 2012 presidential race began to stir with the announcement that the Ames Straw Poll, the first big organizational test of any Republican presidential race, will be held on Aug. 13. Below are our most recent rankings of the 10 candidates we consider most likely to win the nomination. The No. 1-ranked candidate has the best chance.

Rank Candidate Political office Previous
10Jim DeMintSouth Carolina senatorN/A
9Mike PenceIndiana congressman9
8Mitch DanielsIndiana governor7
7John ThuneSouth Dakota senator5
6Haley BarbourMississippi governor4
5Mike HuckabeeFormer Arkansas governor8
4Tim PawlentyMinnesota governor3
3Newt GingrichFormer speaker of the House6
2Sarah PalinFormer Alaska governor2
1 Mitt RomneyFormer Massachusetts governor1

The best thing that happenedto Republicans

They got their tax cuts. The two-year extension of all of the Bush tax cuts that was included in President Obama's tax-cut compromise effectively pushes the ball forward on getting a permanent extension. This was Democrats' real chance to end the tax cuts, as they had a big majority in the House and close to a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. When the issue comes up again in two years - probably in the next lame-duck session - it will probably be much easier for Republicans to push through a permanent extension. And they may even have a Republican president-elect.

The best thing that happenedto Democrats

President Obama came off as a uniter. Say what you want about the liberal (and, for that matter, conservative) resistance to the president's tax-cut proposal; the House's overwhelming vote in favor of the package late Thursday night gave Obama one of the few big bipartisan wins of his presidency. And while he'll have to mend some fences on his side of the aisle, he's doing exactly what he needs to do if he wants to restore his good name with independent voters and win in 2012. The question now is whether this represents a calculated shift for Obama and how ticked off his base will continue to be after the holidays.


14 Senate Democrats who voted for the tax-cut deal negotiated between President Obama and congressional Republicans out of the 15 considered most vulnerable in 2012 by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. By contrast, most upwardly mobile Republicans voted against the deal.

1 House Democratic leaders who voted in favor of the tax-cut deal late Thursday night. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) was the only one to support the measure. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) did not vote; Democratic Reps. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), James Clyburn (S.C.), John Larson (Conn.) and Xavier Becerra (Calif.) all voted no.

6 in 10 Voters who say they wouldn't even consider voting for former Alaska governor Sarah Palin (R) if she were to launch a White House bid, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll. The survey shows that with Palin's high profile comes a high bar to clear if she wants to run for president in 2012.

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