So here’s the game we’re playing this week.
GOP primary voters see Romney (26 percent) and Cain (25 percent) as the most likeable Republican contenders. They view Paul (15 percent) and Bachmann (12 percent) as the least likeable. Cain ties with Bachmann as the second least likeable (12 percent), putting him in the unique position of making the top three in both likeable and unlikeable groups.
When asked who they would trust most with nuclear weapons, nearly twice as many primary voters say Gingrich than Romney (30 percent and 17 percent respectively). Those voters would least trust Paul (13 percent), Bachmann (11 percent) and Cain (10 percent) with nukes.
What about electability? GOP primary voters overwhelmingly see Romney as the Republican with the best chance of beating Barack Obama in the general election. Thirty-seven percent of primary voters think Romney is the most electable candidate. That’s double the number that says Gingrich (18 percent) and Cain (17 percent). Three percent of GOP primary voters think none of the Republicans can beat Obama.
Fully 60 percent of primary voters say they might still change their minds, including nearly seven in 10 Romney supporters(!). The good news for Cain is that 52 percent think the women who accused him of harassment are being motivated by money or politics versus just 25 percent who think they’re telling the truth. The bad news is that 23 percent say the charges are enough to disqualify him and another 43 percent say they need more information to decide. He’s down nine points overall this month. As for Perry, he was at 19 percent in September, 10 percent last month, and … seven percent this month, just one point ahead of Bachmann. Seven percent is where he is in Iowa right now too. Barring a total collapse by both Gingrich and Cain, remind me again how he wins the caucuses and catapults himself back into a two-man race with Romney.
Actually, here’s a freaky deaky scenario for you via the Daily Caller, but one which I’ve been thinking about myself: What if Ron Paul wins Iowa? He’s already at 19 percent in one poll, a single thin point behind Cain. If he’s close the last week before the caucuses, Paulnuts in Iowa will be turbo-charged to turn out for him and pull the upset. If that happens, he’ll get a bounce heading into New Hampshire — and he’s already second there too, albeit a very distant second to Romney. New Hampshire famously loves dark horses and mavericks so maybe he pulls the upset there too, and before you know it Ron Paul’s the nominee and we’re suddenly the party of “friendship” with Iran. No no, I kid. A Paul win in Iowa would, I take it, be Romney’s dream come true because it would finally break down the last resistance among Mitt-hating mainstream Republicans to voting for him. If there’s a viable Not Romney to vote for in New Hampshire, South Carolina, or Florida, that’s a tough call; if there’s just Mitt and Ron Paul, well, we’ll have to suck it up. Exit question one: Will Team Romney quietly send the Mittheads out to caucus for Paul on January 3? Exit question two: Did I read that blockquote correctly? The most likable candidate in the Republican field isn’t Herman Cain but … Mitt Romney? Good lord.