Election 2012: Careers Made and Broken by the Journey

Wins and Fails
Photos clockwise from top left: Andrew Burton / Getty Images, Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images, George Frey / Getty Images, Alex Wong / Getty Images, Win Initiative / Getty Images, YouTube, Joey Foley / Getty Images, Whitney Curtis / Getty Images, Emmanuel


Chris Christie Hurricane Sandy established New Jersey's larger-than-life Republican governor as a truth-telling grown-up who's well positioned for a White House run.

Bill Clinton Obama's "Secretary of 'Splainin' Stuff" enhanced his already-robust postpresidential popularity as No. 44's most effective surrogate. Now, if only he can do as good a job for Hillary!

Mormons Romney's candidacy threw a spotlight on the little-understood Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and finally pulled the historically persecuted minority religion into the mainstream.

Martha Raddatz After Jim Lehrer's feeble performance in the first presidential debate, ABC's polite but firm senior foreign-affairs correspondent, moderating the Biden-Ryan clash, showed us how it's done.

Potheads Light up, and don't worry about the law. Voters from Washington and Colorado, um, blazed a trail by legalizing recreational use of marijuana. Local snack purveyors are psyched.

Mother Jones The paleoliberal mag's revelation of the "47 percent video" damaged Romney and earned MoJo the political world's most favorable attention of its 36-year existence.


Donald Trump
The real-estate mogul and reality-TV star, once a quasi-candidate in the media's presidential sweepstakes, tarnished his brand while turning himself into a laughingstock with his clownish pratfalls over anti-Obama birtherism.

Susan Rice Obama's ambassador to the U.N. was once favored to replace Hillary Clinton at the State Dept. But after dispensing misinformation about the Benghazi tragedy—and being targeted by oppo researchers—she came to symbolize a wounded White House.

Bain Capital Romney's private-equity firm was considered a shining example of U.S. capitalism until Obama successfully demonized it as a money-grubbing job killer.

John Sununu Is the top Romney surrogate simply a racist or possessed by Satan?

Paul Ryan After a bruising campaign in which he was marginalized by his senior partner and his reputation for truth telling with the Beltway media was badly sullied, he needs to put himself in rising-star rehab.

Todd Akin & Richard Mourdock The Republican candidates for Senate in Missouri and Indiana, respectively, raped themselves, as it were, with their illegitimate observations about the brutal crime's impact on the female anatomy and its supposed relationship to God's will.