That’s within the margin of error, kids, the first time Huck’s been that close despite consistently leading the GOP field in PPP’s polling on hypothetical match-ups with The One. They’ve posted extensive crosstabs for him, Mitt, Gingrich, and Palin; among the most striking numbers is Huck scoring a 61 percent favorability rating among conservatives versus just 49 percent for Romney. Mitt’s never going to shake the RINO label, is he?

He’s not the big loser in this poll, though.

Huckabee is not the most popular candidate among GOP voters though. While 66% of them have a favorable opinion of him, 72% have a favorable opinion of Sarah Palin.

Palin’s overall numbers have seen a pretty steep decline in the last month though. Two July surveys we conducted actually showed her numbers slightly improving from pre-resignation announcement levels, to a 47/45 spread. That’s now dropped to 40/49. Among Democrats she’s gone from 25% with a favorable opinion of her to 15%, and among independents she’s gone from 45% to 37%.

In her head to head contest with Obama, Palin is down 52-38 after her 51-43 deficit a month ago had been the closest we have measured for her to date.

Until this, the trendline in her favorables was upward. I don’t know how to explain PPP finding that she’s nosedived since late July, unless all the media screeching about her “death panels” comment is resonating with the public — which would be strange, given that public support for ObamaCare has been sinking steadily ever since she said it.

A revealing piece of data:

Huckabee rates positively with every educational group; Mitt is narrowly in the negative among college grads but otherwise positive for every group from high school grads on up. Palin’s numbers, by contrast, track steadily downward starting with high-school grads, where she has overwhelming support, up through grad-school grads, where she’s overwhelmingly opposed. I don’t know how to explain that, unless the media image of her as a know-nothing has stuck and this is a snapshot of how different groups react to it. And if it is, I don’t know how she begins to undo it. Exit question: Does mounting conservative disgust with Obama make Huckabee more viable as a nominee? Every time I post on him, the Huck-haters in the comments vow that they’ll stay home, won’t donate to the campaign, etc etc etc, but after three more years of Hopenchange I’m thinking you’ll be at the point where we could nominate Meghan McCain and you’d all be out knocking on doors. Second look at Huck?