7. The late Seamus Romney
(The above is a photo of a very photogenic Irish Setter, not the real Seamus. Still, I'm sure Seamus had just as lustrous a coat.)
Vindication came two decades later for the Romney family dog, who was once strapped to the top of the family station wagon as they headed to Canada. Seamus was brought up over and over again during the presidential campaign as proof that Governor Mitt Romney lacked a sense of humanity.
6. Paul Ryan
Unlike the last losing vice presidential candidate, Paul Ryan proved himself capable of handling the spotlight. Affable and intelligent, the well-liked Congressman from Wisconsin will be on everyone’s short list for 2016.
5. Chris Christie
Christie delivered a killer (albeit selfish) keynote speech at the Republican National Convention, then angered the Republican establishment by partnering with President Obama after Hurricane Sandy pummeled the Eastern seaboard. As blue state Republican with a 72% approval rating, his party will have no choice but to forgive, forget, and elevate him as they work to rebuild in the coming years.
4. Elizabeth Warren
The RNC dedicated an entire night to refuting Warren’s famous “You didn’t build that” speech, but Warren’s quiet resolve and intellect proved too big a foe for opponent Scott Brown in the Massachusetts senate race. Progressives were then thrilled to hear she’d earned a spot on the Senate Banking Committee.
3. Red state Democrats running against crazy rape commenters
That's right: 2012 was the year when the above description fit two candidates! Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Joe Donnelly of Indiana picked up U.S. Senate seats after their opponents (who were both expected to win) shared wildly inaccurate and offensive beliefs on pregnancy resulting from rape. Here’s hoping that by the 2014 midterm elections, we can all agree to steer clear of the term, “legitimate rape.”
2. Nate Silver
The man correctly predicted the presidential results in every state, and all but one Senate race. Perhaps in 2016, the mainstream media can focus on his unique and impressive skillset instead of tossing out thinly veiled attacks on his stature and gait.
1. President Barack Obama
Whether you believe the 2012 presidential election was a choice or a referendum, a gridlock or a mandate, the clear winner of 2012 was Barack Obama. Hot on the heels of the Supreme Court upholding his biggest first-term achievement — the Affordable Care Act — Obama launched into a second successful presidential campaign. In a year when the number of debate night retweets were presented as a bellwether to the nation’s likely voting habits, President Obama doubled down on a people-focused grassroots campaign that will be replicated for decades. Oh, and he became the first sitting president to endorse same-sex marriage, too.