The year's most interesting Republicans won't necessarily be presidential candidates.

Who's winning, who's losing, and why.
Jan. 2 2011 7:23 AM

Ten Conservatives Who Will Define 2011

The year's most interesting Republicans won't necessarily be presidential candidates.

Has there ever been a political year like 2010, when the people who got the most attention were not the people about to take power? Delaware's Christine O'Donnell was the most-covered candidate of the year. Sarah Palin's tweets and Facebook posts defined entire news cycles, but Palin's clout couldn't defeat a write-in candidate in her own state. It was the kind of year in which a failed candidate for agriculture commissioner in Alabama could get a Washington Post profile and a career as a pundit-for-hire, all because he recorded a funny viral video.

In 2011, a dozen or so Republicans will announce they're running for president. Most will be distractions from the drama in Congress and in the 50 states sorting out their survival in a world where Medicare funding is iffy and bailout money is never going to come. Republicans will continue their total war against the Affordable Care Act, President Obama's "czars," environmental regulation, and entitlement spending. They will fight like hell against a troop withdrawal in Afghanistan, civilian trials of terrorists, and everything else Obama has promised the left on foreign policy. For a rundown of the people to watch as all of this gets under way, click on the link below.

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David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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