I touched on this in the RomneyCare post, but I know Palin fans would be angry if we didn’t devote a separate post to the results. So here you go. Just proving our fair-and-balanced bona fides ahead of the inevitable Townhall/Hot Air presidential debate next year.
The most important state to the nomination process on this list is Florida and there Romney’s ahead with 28% to 22% for Palin and 15% for Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee. It should be noted that although Romney does have the lead, it’s a much less lofty one than what he posted in a March PPP poll of the state when he had 44%. The only other candidates included in that poll were Palin and Huckabee and we’re finding more and more as we do these polls that when new folks are added into the mix it tends to hurt Romney more than anyone else. His support is less solid than Palin’s and Huckabee’s so even though he looks like a very nominal front runner at this point, he’s also the candidate most likely to see his support collapse as things heat up…
Palin holds small leads in the remaining states. Most noteworthy is her strength in Texas and West Virginia, which suggests a bid from her could really hurt Mike Huckabee in the South. In Texas she gets 22% to 20% for Huckabee and 15% for both Gingrich and Romney. In West Virginia she’s at 25% to 22% for Huckabee and again 15% for both Gingrich and Romney. These margins are obviously very close but they nevertheless pose trouble for Huckabee and perhaps even more so Gingrich if she ends up making a bad because strength in the South would be vital to either of their prospects.
Romney may not have a complete strangle hold on New England- Palin gets 23% in Maine to 18% for Romney, 16% for Huckabee, and 14% for Gingrich. Those numbers should give folks who think there’s no chance Maine Republicans would nominate someone far right against Olympia Snowe in 2012 second thoughts. And finally Palin gets 18% in Wisconsin to 15% for Huckabee, 14% for Gingrich, and 12% for Romney. Pawlenty has his best non-Minnesota performance so far at 8%, not surprising given that it’s right next door. And Pawlenty’s unusually strong Wisconsin number helps to explain Romney’s unusually weak Wisconsin number.
The numbers in West Virginia and Texas aren’t surprising; obviously she and Huck will compete for southern and rural voters, and her name recognition’s higher than his at the moment. Wisconsin’s a surprise, though, and Maine is a big surprise. As happy as Sarahcuda must be to see these numbers, Romney must be utterly deflated. Down five points already in his own backyard? And note the boldfaced bit, please — that’s exactly the point Frum was making in the column I linked earlier about Mitt’s support being momentarily broad but potentially only an inch deep. If, as he and I have speculated, much of Romney’s support comes from centrists who are simply looking for an alternative to Palin, then he’s at risk of flaming out as soon as a more attractive centrist alternative to him emerges. Which raises a question that’s been asked before: Does Mitt actually need Palin to run in order to maximize his chances? Right now he’s the Great Centrist Hope, the guy who can potentially head her off because of his fundraising and organizational skills. If she decides not to run, then he’s just the guy responsible for RomneyCare, who needs to sell himself as somehow superior to Daniels and Thune. And of course, without Palin in the race, Huckabee would stand to clean up among social cons, which would in itself present a challenge to Romney. Then again, given how much contempt most of our commenters seem to have for Huck, maybe having him pose a serious threat for the nomination would actually restore Romney as the Great Centrist Hope and unite people behind him. I’m giving myself a migraine here.
Just breaking as I write this: Palin’s announced the itinerary for her new book tour, and of 16 scheduled stops, two of them are in Iowa. Hmmmm. Exit question: Is super-genius Nancy Pelosi right that the odds against The One being reelected are now long and he’ll have to run a simply perfect campaign to pull it off? Exit answer from Larry Sabato: No, dummy.