(Photo: Reuters/Larry Downing)
In American politics, who and what emerged from 2012 in a better position than they were at the beginning of the year? Here are the top ten winners in American politics for 2012.
1. Barack Obama
With his re-election, President Barack Obama once again won the biggest prize in American politics.
2. Bush Tax Cuts
The tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush were derided by Democrats at the time. Now, with the support of a Democratic president, they will be made permanent for all but the top one percent in income.
3. Democratic Party
The governing party usually has difficulty winning re-election when the economy is weak. Even with high unemployment, the Democratic Party was able to keep the presidency and gain seats in the House and Senate.
4. Marco Rubio
After getting trounced in the November elections, many Republicans realized that the party needs to do a better job at reaching out to Latino voters. This fact greatly enhanced Sen. Marco Rubio's future prospects. He is now considered a front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
5. Bill and Hillary Clinton
Bill and Hillary Clinton continue to be two of the most popular politicians in the country. Bill delivered what was widely viewed as the best speech at either party's political convention, and Hillary is the front-runner for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination in 2016.
6. Scott Walker
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker survived a recall attempt over the summer, which solidified his efforts to reign in the power of public unions in his state. Among Republicans, he is one of the most popular politicians in the country.
7. Rick Santorum
Before 2012, former Senator Rick Santorum was little known outside his home state of Pennsylvania. On a shoestring budget, though, he came the closest to denying Mitt Romney the Republican nomination. The infrastructure and supporters he gained from the race will enhance his influence in the Republican Party.
8. Ted Cruz
With his Ivy League pedigree, Tea Party street cred and Latino heritage, newly-elected Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) is viewed as one of the rising stars in the Republican Party.
9. General Motors
One of the main issues debated during the presidential race was whether GM's government managed bankruptcy required government intervention. With Obama's successful mobilization of voters on that issue, fewer politicians will likely suggest that GM should not get government help the next time the company finds itself in trouble.
10. Paul Ryan
From his influence on the House budget, dubbed the "Ryan budget," to his selection as Romney's running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) emerged as a leader in the Republican Party and a front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.