The reason I added the “second choice” question to Hot Air’s Presidential survey months ago was so that I could figure out how the field might consolidate as candidates left the field. Even though the overall Presidential results are affected by whose candidates’ supporters are most active at Hot Air, the “second choice” survey exists fairly independently of the topline reality; whether 100 or 1000 of a candidate’s supporters come out to vote, the top “second choices” to that candidate stay pretty consistent month-to-month.

So now that Mitch Daniels has confirmed he won’t run, who does that help? Who were his supporters’ second choices? Well, Hot Air readers who voted for Daniels in May responded as follows:

The big winner from Daniels’ exit is pretty clear: Tim Pawlenty, who more than doubles the take of second-place beneficiary Mitt Romney. May’s results reasonably resemble April’s results, too, which are below:

Again Tim Pawlenty takes the lion’s share of the Mitch Daniels vote.

The more votes involved, the more probable (I think) it is that the “second choice” vote reflects the actual post-candidate-departure reality. Yet, even for Mike Huckabee, a candidate who wasn’t very popular at Hot Air, the second choice vote is still remarkably consistent.

For the last two months, the top three candidates in the Huckabee second-choice column have remained the same: Cain, Pawlenty, and Gingrich. Two are Southern candidates a la Huckabee, plus Pawlenty, so here again, Pawlenty seems to benefit from a candidate’s exit. I’ll leave it to you to conclude why this might be.

All of which is to say our June survey will probably see a reasonable-sized spike for Pawlenty, assuming everyone follows through on their second-choice picks. Also makes me think Pawlenty will see some movement in professionally conducted polls, too. (Cain might gain in the polls with the Huck exit, as well, although I think that will take more time to materialize given Cain’s general lack of name recognition.)

Anyway, I thought this was interesting. Questions? Comments? Ask ’em here or on Twitter.

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