She’s pushing this as a call to arms to elect tea-party candidates in the midterms but by the end of the clip it’s an out-and-out campaign ad, replete with beatific slow-motion shots staring up at the podium. The goal, very obviously, is to put her signature (literally, per the closing shot) on tea-party fee-vah after all the buzz this week from O’Donnell’s big upset. The latest poll, via McClatchy: Romney 25, Palin 18, Gingrich 16, Huckabee 16. That’s roughly in line with the new one from PPP a few days ago showing the big three or four bunched up at the top as usual. An interesting footnote:

What’s fascinating about Romney’s lead, as small as it is, is that it comes despite finishing fourth among conservatives. He gets 18% with them, lagging Gingrich at 22% and Huckabee and Palin at 21%. But he wins moderates by such a wide margin- getting 33% with Huckabee at 22% and the rest in single digits- that it propels him to the overall lead. If Romney can run even or just a little bit behind with conservatives but clean up in the middle that may just be enough to let him get the nomination.

As is the case every month Sarah Palin is the most personally popular of the Republicans, with 66% viewing her favorably. She is followed by Huckabee at 60% and Gingrich and Romney at 57%.

The problem for Palin is that a smaller percentage of the people who like her personally support her for President than any of the other Republicans. 37% of the voters who like Romney also say he’s their choice for the 2012 nomination and the same is true for 32% who like Gingrich and Huckabee. But just 24% who see Palin positively on a personal level translate that to intent to vote for her.

Romney’s task is simple: Figure out a way to neutralize enthusiasm among “true conservatives” in the early primaries by turning out moderates in higher than expected numbers, then wait for the rest of the field to shake out and run on competence against whoever’s left standing. Hey, it worked for Mike Castle, didn’t it?