In a poll of “Republicans and Republican leaning independents” done by Gallup September 25-26, Mitt Romney led the field of twelve potential candidates with nineteen percent. His nearest competitors were who you would expect: Palin, Huckabee, Gingrich, as potential newcomers such as Daniels and Thune have trouble gaining attention with as few people paying attention this early.
As for me, I am more interested in the latest poll from Rasmussen, showing Dino Rossi again holding a narrow lead over Patty Murray. Four and a half weeks away, voters. We are heading into October already. Time to gear up hard for this November, and worry about bringing Romney to victory in 2012 after we have reclaimed Congress.
It is that time of the week again, in which polling is released regarding the potential 2012 elections. I do not remember such a heavy interest in hypothetical matchups this early in other Presidential cycles. Perhaps, that itself is an indication of a trend in 2012; one that does not favor the administration, if so many are looking forward to the election in which we can finally be rid of the man and his disastrous policies. Anyway, the usual caveat applies about how it is too early for these numbers to matter, but this poll takes an interesting approach, surveying Romney’s chances in a three-way race.
Michael Bloomberg has done a lot for New York City, although at the expense of many of us in the rest of the state. As a mayor, he still does not fit into the powerful footsteps left behind by Rudy Giuliani, the man who refused to change the law to seek a third term as Bloomberg did. With his party switch, increasing social liberalism, self-described fiscal conservatism but with a penchant for raising taxes, conventional wisdom indicates that despite his popularity within New York City, he would gain little traction elsewhere. Nevertheless, Presidential speculation continues to surround Bloomberg. He has reportedly considered making a bid as an independent, with the belief that independents would support him over most Republicans.
The latest poll from Zogby International indicates that Bloomberg is wrong and the inclinations of conventional wisdom are indeed justified. In a poll of the three way race 2,062 likely voters narrowly favor Mitt Romney over Barack Obama and the New York City mayor. Romney leads with 42 percent of the vote, to Obama’s 41. Bloomberg meanwhile takes only six percent. Among independents, Bloomberg’s key constituency, Romney leads a 40-30-11 split, with the meager 11 percent take going to Bloomberg.
This news is not great for Bloomberg, but it is even worse for the President. While the New York City mayor is showing the sort of weakness one would expect from the earliest days of a yet hypothetical third party candidacy, comparisons to other polls show that Bloomberg is not taking, as one might expect from the Republican challenger. Rather, he is drawing his small number equally from both sides, if not a little more from the left. Furthermore, as a greater share of the populace outside of New York learn more of Bloomberg and his clearly left-wing political views, it could be expected that he would draw any further support significantly away from Obama.
Bloomberg’s business credentials do not benefit him as an alternate answer to the economy, as he wins the support of only five percent of small business owners. The plurality, 49 percent, favor the low taxes and true fiscal conservative reform that would come with a Romney administration.
As Democrats desire and mainstream Republicans fear a split within the GOP from the growing strength of the Tea Party movement, the many varying styles of American conservatism appear ready to unite on common principles in the effort to take back this nation; Romney takes a solid 84 percent of Tea Party voters. Meanwhile, should Bloomberg indeed enter the fray, it is his fellow social liberal Barack Obama, who will need to fear an independent candidate siphoning his voters.
This past week has seen new polling regarding several strong Republican gubernatorial candidates endorsed by Mitt Romney. Himself a former Governor of Massachusetts, Romney understands the sort of executive capability it takes to make a strong governor. Therefore, it is no surprise that the following polls generally show good news for these Republicans.
First, in California, where the early trend favoring Jerry Brown has faded according to two polls released this month showing Meg Whitman moving into the lead. Survey USA, polling early in the month, was the first to show Whitman moving ahead, though only narrowly, taking a 44-43 lead over Brown in a poll of 602 likely voters.
This past week, Rasmussen has followed up on this with a poll of 750 likely voters showing Whitman ahead by a more significant eight point margin. In this poll Whitman leads 48-40, and breaks the 50% barrier when “leaners” are included, leading 51-43. The toplines of the poll also show an advantage for Whitman in favorability ratings. 30% hold a very favorable opinion of Whitman, to 25% very unfavorable. Brown meanwhile is underwater at 25/38. Good news for Meg Whitman all around.
For South Carolina, Rasmussen Reports has released a poll just today that shows Nikki Haley leading Democrat Vincent Sheheen by a solid sixteen point margin, 52-36. This is consistent with the July poll in the state, although this month shows Haley up over the crucial 50% mark. The poll also shows Haley with stronger favorability ratings than Sheheen, and stronger name recognition.
On top of these, today has brought another gubernatorial endorsement from Mitt Romney, as he has turned his attention toward the state of Oklahoma. Mary Fallin headlines the Republican ticket for Sooners, in her quest to become the state’s next governor. Fallin is a former Lt. Governor in Oklahoma and currently represents the 5th district in the U.S. House of Representatives. In July, she defeated Randy Brogdon and two other candidates to win the Republican nomination for governor. She proudly runs on her strong conservative voting record as a member of the House Republican minority during these past four years, reminding voters in Tom Coburn’s state that when faced with a leftist agenda, there is nothing wrong with the word “No.” Her gubernatorial campaign centers around making Oklahoma a strong state for doing business. With low taxes and reduced spending , Fallin intends to keep Oklahoma away from the economic stagnation that is facing New York, and the high unemployment of Granholm’s Michigan.
As for the polling, Rasmussen Reports today shows Fallin leading by a solid 52-37 margin over her rival Jari Askins. This is consistent with previous surveys and shows a race maintaining steadily as a solid Republican gain in the conservative state. Democrat incumbent Brad Henry is unable to run due to term limits. Despite his fairly strong job approval rating in the state, the Republican trend, Fallin’s strong economic message, and Oklahoma’s penchant for conservatives is making this a difficult state for Democrats to hold.
Fallin is not the only Oklahoma candidate to receive an endorsement from Romney today. Five others, including Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb and four Congressional candidates will be receiving support from Romney’s Free and Strong America PAC this year. Previews on these five will come in the next post.
As Kevin Madden has stated, these polls “are like pre-season football: Fun to watch for a few minutes until you realize they don’t matter.” Then again in pre-season football Peyton Manning is only around for one or two drives; these polls enable us to follow our favorites on all of the way through 2012 – even if at this point it really doesn’t matter. So with the usual “this doesn’t matter” caveat out of the way, here is a quick look at what the past week has brought us in its look at yet distant primaries.
First of all is a poll by the Clarus Research Group, surveying 374 registered Republicans or Independents trending Republican nationwide. Their findings put Romney in the lead nationally with 26%. Huckabee is second with 21%, Gingrich 14%, Palin 12%, and a host of others in the low single digits. This poll has gained a fair bit of attention over the past week due to its showing of Sarah Palin in fourth place; her support has dropped most significantly since this poll was last taken in March. Romney’s support has dropped as well, though not enough to take him out of the top spot. More notably is the rise in “undecided” voters, from 10% to 15%, not really a surprising development as it shows that voters are not exactly focused on the 2012 elections right now. This far removed from the elections, they are not sure who they want to see defeat Obama.
Of course the CNN Opinion Research Poll, released Friday, shows that while unsure, voters are indeed keen on the idea of somebody defeating Obama. The poll of “1009 adult Americans,” 935 of whom are registered voters, shows the President’s potential reelection effort coming to defeat 50-45 against… well, nobody in particular. CNN did not poll specific candidates on the general election, but Obama is trailing a generic Republican by five points. As for the Republican primary, Romney leads once again with 21%, Palin 18%, Gingrich 15%, Huckabee 14%, and Paul 10% – others at 3% or lower. In this case, it is Mike Huckabee whose numbers see a significant drop compared to previous polling. The CNN poll taken in April, showed Huckabee leading Romney 24-20, a sign of how quickly these things can fluctuate.
A third national primary poll, released yesterday afternoon, by Public Policy Polling, gives no clear answer to the 2012 primary question. In this poll, Huckabee leads very narrowly with 23%, but Romney is right there with him at 22%. Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin each carry 21%. The poll surveys 400 “national Republican primary voters,” and although concludes with the reasonable analysis that there is room for other outside contenders to join the fray, did not poll Pawlenty, Thune, et. al. (Ron Paul was surveyed, but took only 4%.)
The internals of the PPP poll are fairly interesting. Romney’s favorable numbers, though only at 57% overall, were the strongest in carrying the crucial moderate voters with a consistent 59/22 split among moderates, compared to 58/19 among conservatives. Unsurprisingly Palin’s favorables were strong with conservatives, 86/6, and oddly strong among liberals, 42/25 (Romney’s meanwhile reverse that, 25/42). The disadvantage for Palin is that her support, as usual is quite polarized. Only 6% of conservatives and 7% of moderates are unsure of their opinion on the former Alaska governor. Romney meanwhile still has room to grow among some voters, with 22% overall yet to form an opinion. Once again the takeaway story is that there is no clear candidate, but Romney is well positioned among the front-runners.
Finally, there has been a poll released by The Iowa Republican regarding the 2012 primary, in the important early state of Iowa. The poll shows a familiar sight from 2008; Huckabee leads with 22%, Romney in second with 18%. Gingrich takes 14%, Palin 11%. Others 5% or lower. Despite mirroring the devastating results from the 2008 primary, this is actually good news for Mitt. In 2008, Mitt came into Iowa with all of the expectations behind him. Giuliani was not actively contesting the early states. McCain was not expected to do well. Thompson was looking at South Carolina. Romney, meanwhile was expected to win in Iowa, and when Huckabee made a surprise charge to take the state, it destroyed the momentum of the Romney campaign. For 2012, though, that onus is on the Huckabee campaign. After succeeding in 2008 with such little name recognition, Huckabee is expected to win Iowa. A result showing the numbers above would not change the race at all; a Romney victory could send Huckabee home early.
In the end that is the ultimate difficulty with all of these national primary polls. Although generally useful as a basic guideline to who the front-runners are, it ultimately results in the state contests. Four years ago, the buzz was about Rudy Giuliani. He was leading national primary polling, and set about a strategy of competing in the primaries as a national campaign. It just did not work that way. The primaries are set up to reflect the nuances and shifts in momentum that come with each state contest. It means that the nominee is required to be a leader who works and develops connections with voters and conservative politicians at the grassroots level. Even with all of the historical theorizing about “next in line” and who the established front runner is, being a national figure does not bring one a primary victory. The winner of the Republican primaries is the candidate who is willing to travel the country, help out conservative candidates and causes, speak at events, and lead at a time when there is not a looming Presidential race.
It will be the actions and events of the coming few months that will truly shape our strongest candidates for the 2012 Presidential race. As has been the case and will continue to be the case until November, the 2010 midterms are far more important for conservative leaders and activists than any polling on 2012. In that regard, Mitt Romney is definitely in very good shape.
Tomorrow will bring yet another conclusion to a hard fought primary battle, as the 2010 campaign to take back the American government continues. The runoff to determine who will face Democrat Roy Barnes in the election for governor of Georgia has been portrayed as a de facto fight among leaders of the Republican party, with Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin on the side of Karen Handel, and Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee backing her opponent, Nathan Deal. This race in Georgia is not about the high profile endorsements it has attracted. It is about the state of Georgia, which along with the rest of the country has been hit by high unemployment, slow economic growth, and the prospect of a massive federal tax hike as the Obama administration refuses to seek the extension of the Bush tax cuts.
As the state of Georgia seeks the best leadership on the Republican side to lead at the state level where the administration refuses to lead nationally, polling shows Karen Handel with the narrow advantage in her bid to follow up on her first primary victory in July. Mason Dixon Polling & Research shows Handel leading Deal with a five point advantage, 47-42. This is not a poor position for Handel, but with neither candidate holding a majority, this race can still be taken by either candidate in the final hours.
Rasmussen has done another poll showing some good news for conservative candidate and Romney endorsement Kristi Noem in South Dakota.
For the South Dakota at Large House seat, Kristi Noem now leads her opponent, incumbent Stephanie Herseth Sandlin by a 51-42 margin. This is a solid improvement over her 49-44 lead from last month, and shows that her strong numbers are not about to wither away any time soon. It also puts the challenger over the crucial 50% mark. Conventional wisdom indicates that an incumbent is in trouble when they cannot achieve 50% in polling. Common sense indicates that an incumbent is pretty much toast when their challenger pulls off a solid majority. This is the second poll by Rasmussen that has shown Noem over 50%, the first being two months ago when she led by a 53-41 margin, dismissed by some as a post-primary victory bounce. Now, this far removed from the primary, it is safe to say that this lead is for real.
Sandlin was touted as a major rising star for the Democrats. Should all proceed as the trend indicates, this will be a major victory for Republicans.
Once again, it is so early that it is a stretch to take consider 2012 numbers even as much as a vague guideline. This however has not kept Public Policy Polling from giving us some fun speculation as to possible primary results. Right now, the polling shows a tight four way match, that gives way after South Carolina to a two way battle between Romney and… Newt Gingrich. The battle goes to Florida, where Romney currently has an edge. It is a fun read, if nothing else.
One assumption of the analysis that I have to question though, is that it indicates that Gingrich would be able to position himself as the stronger conservative to Romney. I am not so certain of that. Memories of Gingrich’s friendliness toward Nancy Pelosi and discussion of “climate change” may scare away former Palin voters… and of course in a scenario as described above, should Palin drop out after South Carolina, she would have remarkable power behind her endorsement of one of the remaining two. Some have argued that Sarah Palin does not want to have the top spot herself, but would like to be kingmaker to ensure that the best conservative takes the top spot. If this scenario plays out, she would certainly have that position before the Florida primary.
Still lots of twists and turns to this campaign before then. We still have liberals to root out of Congress this November… but a little speculation now and then is entertaining.