PPP poll: Romney voters a risk to switch to Obama if he loses nomination?

I could have gone two ways with the headline here. One was to note that Palin’s now leading the field, albeit narrowly — 21 percent to Gingrich’s 19, Romney’s 18, and Huckabee’s 16. The other was to note that those darned RINOs in Mitt’s base just might be ready to bolt, Delaware-style, if their man’s not the pick in 2012.

I went with my gut that you guys might just be in the mood for an ol’ fashioned RINO stomp.

-Huckabee voters give Palin a 64/27 favorability, Gingrich a 53/23 one, and Romney a 59/26 one. That makes the net favorability for the other candidates an average +33.

-Palin voters give Huckabee a 52/19 favorability, Gingrich a 42/38 one, and Romney a 40/35 one. That makes the net favorability for the other candidates an average +14…

-Romney voters give Huckabee a 46/25 favorability, Palin a 46/36 one, and Gingrich a 41/42 one. That makes the net favorability for the other candidates an average +10.

The Gingrich and Huckabee voters are going to be fine if someone else gets nominated. They’re pretty happy with all the other candidates. The Romney folks perhaps are a greater concern for Republicans because some of them might actually vote for Obama if a Gingrich or Palin gets nominated. The Palin folks aren’t all that big on the other candidates either- the chances of them voting for Obama seem quite slim but might they sit home or throw some of their votes to a conservative third party candidate if Romney wins the nomination?

Yeah, that’s an interesting parallel in Romney fans and Palin fans, although for completely different reasons. Mitt’s probably cleaning up among Republican centrists who might otherwise consider voting for a strong Democrat. (Let’s call them “Kathleen Parker conservatives.”) Palin, on the other hand, commands a bunch of conservatives who would never vote Democrat and whose devotion to her might lead some to stay home if she’s not the pick. Although, contrary to the endless invective aimed at Huckabee among the Hot Air commentariat, Huck does darned well among her supporters. Consider that proof that social conservatism is more important to her base than some of us might have thought. In fact, Huckabee scores the highest favorable rating among Palin’s, Romney’s, and Gingrich’s supporters (aside from Palin, Romney, and Gingrich themselves, respectively). I wonder if that’s inducement enough to get him to consider running. If any one of them bows out early or chooses not to run at all, he’s primed to pick up a bunch of their supporters and, with them, a whole lot of momentum. (Although do note: Romney supporters marginally prefer Palin to Huckabee as a second choice, possibly because Mitt’s Mormon base skews conservative.) Are you ready for Huckabee/Christie 2012?

On the other hand, if Huck doesn’t run, Palin’s the big winner. She takes 34 percent of his supporters as a second choice compared to just 19 percent for Gingrich and 17 percent for Romney. That’s a considerable spread, to the point where I wonder if there aren’t some establishment anti-Palin Republicans out there suddenly getting very nervous at the thought that Huck might not run and that social conservatives will unite behind Palin. They’re going to need a stalking horse to bleed some of those votes away from her. But who, if not Huck? Santorum? C’mon.