Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney: Who Will Step Up First?

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Depending on which poll you read and what day it is on you can see a wide variety in data of who is leading the potential Republican field for the 2012 nomination. Some polls have shown Mitt Romney with a small lead over Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin. Others have Huckabee on top with a slight gap between himself, Romney and Palin. Sometimes former Speaker Newt Gingrich appears as has Mitch Daniels, Ron Paul and various other potential candidates. The only consistency appears to be that Huck, Sarah and Mitt appear at the top almost every time.

So the question remains – Who will break out of the pack when the official announcements begin to show up on Twitter? Moderates are mostly for Romney, and Conservatives are split on Huckabee and Palin. However, Huckabee backers support Sarah Palin if he does not run and vice-versa with Sarah Palin’s supporters. Which means they both better hope either one of them does not run for President. However in the large scheme of things, this is wide open. Though Romney, Palin and Huckabee are frontrunners now, it could all change once someone announces their run.

After CPAC we may begin to see some new names and faces appear such as John Thune, Tim Pawlenty, Haley Barbour and Mitch Daniels. Rick Santorum cannot be discounted as well as little known Herman Cain who made a splash at the conservative conference.

If one of the big three makes an announcement soon it could hamper the ability of some of the lesser knows to get their name out through the media frenzy that is likely to follow especially if that person is Sarah Palin. We may not know how the candidates will play their hands and how voters will react but one thing we do know is that the early indications point to Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney as maintaining a firm grasp on the minds of potential voters.

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Early Polling Puts the Pressure on Romney for 2012

Bookmark and Share   Even though most states have not even begun to vote in the 2010 midterm elections, the anticipated Republican tsunami that is at the moment undeniable, has many preparing for the new political landscape that we will be operating in post November 2, 2010. I foresee the G.O.P. taking control of the Senate with 51 seats and winning a whopping 62 seats in the House, a gain that would give Republicans the most seats it has had in the House since 1946.

This Republican rejuvenation has made it hard to contain speculation about 2012 and the presidential election which will begin on November 3rd, 2010.

One entity which is not hiding any early interest in the Republican race for President is Gallup, a veteran polling agency of 70 years.

In their most recent poll of the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, Gallup selected 12 leading Republicans whom are seriously considering a run for president and in many cases have already stomped in New Hampshire and Iowa, the states with first in the nation presidential primary and caucus.

The question Gallup asked was;

Next I’m going to read a list of people who may be running in the republican primaries for President in the 2012 election. After I read all the names, please tell me which of those candidates you would be most likely to support for the Republican nomination for President in 2012, or if you would support someone else. ( The names were given in random order)

The results were as follows:

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    • Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney                19%
    • Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin                                     16%
    • Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee                       12%
    • Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich                        9%
    • Texas Congressman Ron Paul                                                      7%
    • Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty                                           3%
    • Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour                                         3%
    • Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum                       2%
    • South Dakota Senator John Thune                                              2%
    • Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels                                                  2%
    • Indiana Congressman Mike Pence                                               1%
    • Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson                        1%

A total of 11% of respondents had no opinion, 7% stated none of them, 4% gave a mix of different names, 1% said any or all of them, and another 1 % volunteered the name of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Gallup also broke these down reults down even and offered the following interesting analysis;

“Romney and Palin are the top choices of both conservative and moderate or liberal Republicans, and in fact their support is similar among both groups. Of the top five candidates, Huckabee receives support that is most divided along ideological lines; he gets significantly more support among conservative Republicans.”

Support for Top Five Potential 2012 Republican Nomination Candidates, by Political Ideology

“Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister, likely fares better among conservative Republicans because the group tends to be more religious. Among Republicans who say religion is important in their lives, Huckabee (14%) is essentially tied with Romney (17%) and Palin (16%).”

Candidates Get More Support in Home Regions

“Typically, support for presidential nomination candidates varies geographically, with candidates generally faring best in their home regions. This appears to be the case with most of the current group of GOP contenders, as Palin’s support is highest in the West, and Huckabee gets somewhat higher support in the South. Romney shows particular strength in both the East, where he was governor of Massachusetts, and the West, where he served as chief executive of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic games.”

Support for Top Five Potential 2012 Republican Nomination Candidates, by Region

These results are only a snapshoyt of current thinking and that  thinking is surely going to change over the course of two years.  But the current picture offers a glimpse of who has the most to lose and who has the most to gain as the primary process unfolds.  Clearly, Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin have captured the imaginations of more Republicans than any others, yet Huckabee, Gingrich and Paul have substantial enough support to make Palin’s and Romney’s frontrunner status very flimsy.

Perhaps most telling are Tim Pawlenty’s numbers. 

As a popular Midwest Governor who received national attention when he came close to be John McCain’s pick for Vice President, you would expect him to be much further ahead of the bottom of the pack than he actually is.  This is especially true when you consider that he is openly pursing the GOP nomination much more aggressively than many of the other names on the list.  With only 3% of Republicans uttering his name as their choice, it would seem that Pawlenty probably has a lot more work to do if he expects to catch on, especially as the rest of the field swings into gear.  So far, it would seem that Tim hasn’t been getting as a big a bang for his buck as he should.

But these numbers do not put as much pressure on Pawlenty as they do for Romeny and Palin.  Pawlenty has little room to slide but a lot of room for advancement.  But Palin and Romney are the ones that are faced with insuring that they remain on the top of the hill…………a position that will be tough to hold for long as the rest of the field starts trying to take their place at the top.

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