Our look at the 10 most influential Republicans at the moment is below. Remember that this is not a list of who is most likely to win the party’s nomination in 2012 and should not be taken as such. Rather, it’s an attempt to show the leading voices for a party in rebuilding mode:
Coming Off the Line: Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Michael Steele, Dick Cheney
Coming On the Line: John Boehner, John Cornyn, Chris Christie
10.) John Boehner (previous rank: N/A): has done something amazing in the first six months of the 111th Congress: kept his members unified.
9.) Mitch McConnell (previous rank: #10): will be at the center of the fights over health care and cap and trade this summer and fall.
8.) John Cornyn (previous rank: N/A): successfully recruited credible candidates in Illinois and New Hampshire and has seen the NRSC’s decision to wade into contested primaries pay off in Missouri and Florida.
7.) Newt Gingrich (previous rank: #2): drops a few slots on this month’s Line as several Republican strategists painted his fourth place showing in a recent Gallup poll looking at the 2012 field as decidedly disappointing given that Gingrich is working hard behind the scenes to build support.
6.) Tim Pawlenty (previous rank: #7): the Fix keeps hearing stories of the leg work (financial, staff etc) that Tpaw is doing behind the scenes. Expect Pawlenty to emerge (and go higher on the Line) as summer turns to fall.
5.) Haley Barbour (previous rank: #3): He is more powerful as a kingmaker in a national race than as a candidate in his own right.
4.) Bob McDonnell (previous rank: #4): The party’s nominee in the Virginia governor’s race this fall has an even money (or slightly better) chance of taking the seat back for Republicans — a win that, if it comes to pass, will be painted as a national referendum on Obama’s presidency.
3.) Chris Christie (previous rank: N/A): The more we look at this November’s New Jersey gubernatorial race, the more convinced we become that Christie, a former U.S. Attorney, is going to beat Gov. Jon Corzine (D).
2.) Sarah Palin (previous rank: #9): We decided to put Palin so high on the Line for one reason: is there any other Republican you can think of who, if she runs for president, will be a favorite in two — Iowa and South Carolina — of the first four states to vote for president in the primaries?
1.) Mitt Romney (previous rank: #1): the former Massachusetts governor and a 2008 presidential candidate, is the most complete package on the Republican side of the aisle.
Palin and Christie are the biggest positive movers, while Gingrich and Huckabee are the biggest negative movers. I agree with Cillizza ranking Romney #1, as he is indeed the most complete package for the GOP in 2012.