Guy Benson
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We've been ruminating about Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann's rumored Oval Office designs recently, so why not link to a totally preposterous roundup of DC insiders' predictions on the 2012 GOP field, as collected by National Journal?



Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney continues to hold the pole position for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination in the latest National Journal Political Insiders Poll. But the surprise runner-up to Romney was the two-term Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who moved up from fifth place when the last ranking of the potential GOP White House contenders was conducted a year ago.

Rounding out the top five in order were former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Sen. John Thune of South Dakota and former 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

While we're at it, Larry Sabato has issued his wildly premature, yet irresistible, ratings for all 33 of next year's Senate races:

There are seven toss-ups at the moment, six of them Democratic: Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Jon Tester (D-MT), Ben Nelson (D-NE), John Ensign (R-NV), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Jim Webb (D-VA). All seven are either in the “very vulnerable” or “vulnerable” categories.

There are eight seats currently leaning to one or the other party. Six are Democratic and two are Republican. Of the eight, the seat of Scott Brown (R-MA) may be the most endangered, initially—although we believe some are underestimating his ability to win a full term despite the state’s heavily Democratic tilt.

The remaining 18 seats are “likely” or “solid” for the eleven Democrats and seven Republicans who occupy them.

This reflects what we've been saying for months:  Republicans, if they play their cards right, have a golden opportunity to take back the Senate -- even if modest Obama coattails exist. 

One of the races Sabato labels "potentially vulnerable" is for Bob Menedez's seat in New Jersey.   In 2006, a spectacular year for Democrats, Menendez won with only 53 percent of the vote.  His opponent that year was Tom Kean, Jr., the son of the popular ex-Governor.  The Washington Post's Aaron Blake astutely noticed that Kean's political website is currently getting a facelift, signaling that a rematch may be in the works.  As we've discussed previously, Menendez might have cause for concern:

Outgoing DSCC Chair Bob Menendez (D-NJ) needs to turn his attention to his '12 re-election bid ASAP. A Quinnipiac Poll released 11/9 found that only 38% of voters approve of his job performance while 41% of voters disapprove. More troubling for Menendez: nearly half -- 48% -- of independents disapprove of his job performance.
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Guy Benson

Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Senior Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography