Gallup finally polled potential GOP primary voters on their candidate preferences after exits from the race by Mike Huckabee, Donald Trump, and Mitch Daniels, and their support went to … everyone. Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin moved into the top two slots, but almost everyone picked up a little support. The field and the distance between the candidates hardly budged:
Mitt Romney (17%) and Sarah Palin (15%) now lead a smaller field of potential Republican presidential candidates in rank-and-file Republicans’ preferences for the party’s 2012 nominee. Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, and Herman Cain essentially tie for third, with Cain registering 8% support in his initial inclusion in Gallup “trial heat” polling. Notably, 22% of Republicans do not have a preference at this point.
Most of the candidates on their list have formally declared either a candidacy or an exploratory committee except for Palin. Gallup re-allocates her supporters based on their second-place preferences and finds that … nothing much changes then, either:
Re-allocating Palin supporters’ votes to the candidate who is their second choice gives a sense of where current preferences would stand without Palin in the mix. Under this scenario, Romney leads with 19%, followed by Gingrich and Paul with 12% each.
Their previous poll on the GOP nomination race came more than a month ago. In it, Huckabee and Trump led with 16% each and Mitch Daniels had 3% support, adding up to 35% of respondents in April. With the departure of these three candidates, Romney picked up one point, Palin five points, Ron Paul four points, Newt Gingrich three points, and another three points for Tim Pawlenty. The only real significant move came from Herman Cain, from immeasurably small to 8%.
Taking Palin out produces similar results. Romney, Gingrich, Paul, and Bachmann gain two points each, Pawlenty gets one, and Cain doesn’t budge. Neither of these moves are gamechangers, except that Huckabee’s departure puts Romney and Palin in the same virtual tie as a month ago, only this time at the top of the list.
There is still plenty of room in this race for another candidate. The biggest gain in this poll besides Herman Cain’s eight-point jump was in None/No Opinion, which went from 14% to 22%. That outstrips all of the other candidates in the field, giving the impression that none of the current potential candidates has captured the imagination of primary voters at this time.