After Shakeup, Romney And Palin Lead GOP Field

Gallup takes the first look at the GOP field after Huckabee, Trump, and Daniels dropped out.

Over the past two weeks three potential candidates for the GOP nomination in 2012 have bowed out of the race, and now Gallup is out with the first real snapshot of the new field:

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.

The May 20-24 poll is the first update of Republican nomination preferences after a recent flurry of activity in the race for the 2012 nomination, with several formally declaring their presidential candidacies, including Paul, Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, and Cain.Perhaps as significant were the decisions by Mike Huckabee, Donald Trump, and Mitch Daniels to forgo the race. In Gallup’s April update, Huckabee and Trump were the co-leaders, with Huckabee placing first in the other Gallup updates this year.

Of the 10 candidates included in the newly reduced list, 7 have either officially announced their candidacies or established exploratory committees. Jon Huntsman and Michele Bachmann are nearing decisions and are expected to get in the race, while Palin’s status as a candidate is less certain.

Here’s the chart:

Some observations about these new numbers:

  • Before Huckabee and Trump dropped out, most polls showed three, or four, candidates in double digits. Now we’ve got three  (Romney, Palin, and Paul) with a bunch of guys bringing up the rear. To the extent the people who were responding Huckabee and Trump in previous polls chose anyone, they don’t seem to be grouping behind a single candidate at this point in the race
  • Herman Cain, who was garnering no better than 3-4% in previous polls, is now up in the 8% range, which is likely a reflection of the bandwagon that has developed around him over the past several weeks among some conservative Republicans and Tea Party members. Momentum? Or just a blip? Time will tell
  • Tim Pawlenty, who desperately wants to be considered a top tier candidate like Romney and Palin, isn’t getting close to there so far. He was a 3% in the previous Gallup Poll, and he’s a 6% now. Progress, but not much.
  • Ron Paul is at 10% in a national poll of Republicans. I’d hardly call him a gadfly
  • With 22% undecided and many, many months to go, there are plenty of opportunities for candidates to change the state of the race between now and 2012.

Gallup also polled the race without Palin, whose intentions remain as opaque as ever:

A few more observations:

  • Interestingly, at least at the moment, the biggest beneficiary of Palin not running would be Newt Gingrich. I don’t see this as sustainable mostly because I think Gingrich has done enough to damage his own brand over the years that people are going to find it hard to pull the lever for him when the walk into the voting booth.
  • Other candidates that might be expected to benefit from Palin staying out — Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann — don’t pick up as much support as you might expect, but that could be a reflection of their low name recognition at this point in time.
  • Tim Pawlenty still isn’t exciting anyone
  • There’s Ron Paul at 12%
  • And, 25% undecided? That means this race would be almost anyone’s to win

Finally, it’s interesting that, despite the fact that he is in many ways Public Enemy No. 1 among conservative and Tea Party activists, Mitt Romney remains at the top of the polls. Yes, a large part of it is likely due to name recognition and the GOP’s habit of giving the nomination to the next person in line. However, it’s also a reflection of the fact that the Republican electorate, at least nationally, is made up of more than just hard-core conservatives and Tea Party activists. If Romney ends up with a field where he’s the dominant “regular” Republican and there are one or two (or more) candidates that appeal to the conservative base dividing up the rest of the vote, he may just end up with a clear path to the nomination.

 

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Politicians, Sarah Palin, US Politics, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. It will be interesting to see which candidatest he news media treats as legitimate and non-legitimate now. Two “serious candidates”, Pawlenty and Huntsman, seem to be back in the weed, while one of the “longshots”, Paul, is in a much better than expected position.

    Will this be acknowledged, or will they remain stuck in their original categories?

  2. michael reynolds says:

    What I would like to hear is the results of the money primary. Who is getting the non-Romney money? And is Huntsman making any headway with Mormon bundlers? That will tell more than this poll which has the look of indecision and lack of passion.

  3. john personna says:

    -1 for my faith in human intelligence.

  4. Michael,

    The first round of finance reports will come out around mid-July.

  5. James Joyner says:

    This is still mostly a name recognition ballot. I barely know anything about Pawlenty, and have hardly ever heard him speak at length, despite being a political junkie.

    Recall that Romney became the candidate conservatives rallied around once Guiliani and Thompson imploded and McCain became the man to beat. He became the alternative to McCain and the gang at Red State and most conservative bloggers were championing him as the “real conservative” to McCain’s RINO. He only finished behind Huckabee, barely, because he had the decency to pull out in February rather than spend his money bloodying McCain to rack up delegates.

  6. JKR says:

    Cain is as close to tied with Ron Paul, who is in third, as he is to Pawlenty, who is in 5th. And he doesn’t go up if Palin goes out, but Ron Paul, Gingrich and Romney all do.

    Not to mention Cain’s TARP support, opposition to auditing the federal reserve and declaration that he will come up with a foreign policy after he is in office don’t give him credible legs once voters know him better. However, Trump led the polls for a while and I guess Cain will run his course.

    Odd you wouldn’t call this as Ron Paul being in third place, though.

  7. tom p says:

    I am just waiting for the number of Candidates to drop to 8…

    “Snow White and the 9 Dwarves” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

  8. john personna says:

    “This is still mostly a name recognition ballot.”

    No James, it’s much worse than that. It’s the 17/15 “win” Romney has over Palin that is deeply disturbing. You’d think, on name recognition, Republicans could choose Romney as a solid choice, if not a perfect one.

  9. steve says:

    This is w/o Palin declaring yet. What happens when she declares?

    Steve

  10. anjin-san says:

    This is w/o Palin declaring yet. What happens when she declares?

    Democrats crack open a lot of champagne?

  11. ponce says:

    Isn’t it weird that 17% of Republicans support Romney.

    I mean, why?

  12. john personna says:

    Romney has “fairly normal” going for him.

  13. PJ says:

    Isn’t it weird that 17% of Republicans support Romney.

    I’m guessing that’s the 17% who haven’t heard of “Abortion-funded-RomneyCare” yet.For some reason I doubt that the rest of the candidates will fail to inform primary voters about it.

  14. michael reynolds says:

    anjin:

    I kept a bottle of Champagne on hand for 10 years to be popped when Osama Bin Laden was popped.

    Palin getting in the race won’t be quite that satisfying, so maybe a nice bottle of beer? It would certainly be worth a Chimay.

  15. @Michael

    Well, I’ll say this much………..Palin getting in the race would provide endless, endless material

  16. Mike Farrell says:

    But didn’t Mataconis say recently that it is a silly idea for anyone to take a possible campaign run by Palin seriously????

    Perhaps it is even sillier to put dogmatic statements out when one is inflicted by irrational hatred.

  17. jukeboxgrad says:

    Mike Farrell:

    didn’t Mataconis say recently that it is a silly idea for anyone to take a possible campaign run by Palin seriously????

    Your silly question has already been asked and answered. But I supposed you’ll keep on asking.

    Perhaps it is even sillier to put dogmatic statements out when one is inflicted by irrational hatred.

    What’s really silly is asking the same silly question over and over again as if it hasn’t already been answered.

  18. ponce says:

    It would certainly be worth a Chimay.

    A Billy Beer would seem more appropriate.

  19. anjin-san says:

    I don’t know about a billy beer. Billy carter actually saw the inside of the oval office…

  20. jukeboxgrad says:

    James:

    He [Romney] became the alternative to McCain and the gang at Red State and most conservative bloggers were championing him as the “real conservative” to McCain’s RINO.

    True, but that was then. This is now. “Romney has to contend with a new kind of apostasy: having supported what was once a conservative position” (link). Romney lacks retroactive ideological purity. He is surely a RINO now, if he wasn’t already one.

    The grownups in the GOP (like you) are going to rally around Romney, because it’s going to be your best shot at stopping Palin. Trouble is, this will just fuel the Palinist narrative that the GOP elite establishment is afraid of Palin, and it’s all about the people vs. the elite. The GOP is about to become very, very polarized.

    McCain and the GOP created a Frankenstein when they picked Palin in 2008. Now that monster is about to ravage the GOP. She will run, and the GOP will nominate her. I starting predicting this at least six months ago, and it looks more certain than ever. And in the unlikely event that the GOP doesn’t nominate her, she’ll run anyway. That would be a smart career move.

  21. jukeboxgrad says:

    If Romney ends up with a field where he’s the dominant “regular” Republican and there are one or two (or more) candidates that appeal to the conservative base dividing up the rest of the vote, he may just end up with a clear path to the nomination.

    It’s all about Romney and Palin. The hardcore base is going to unite around the latter. I don’t think their vote is going to be divided.

    Trump made a splash and now Cain is making a splash, but I think that was all about Palin being seen as unavailable. Now that Palin is jumping in, I think support for Trump (who has been making noises about running again) and Cain is eventually going to dry up. Same for Bachmann. They were all stand-ins for the real thing.

    Palin saw Trump quickly drawing lots of support by being outspoken and aggressive (and the same regarding Cain, to some extent). Palin knows that she can play that game even better than him, so she knows there’s lots of support waiting for her, as soon as she says she wants it.

    It was savvy of Palin to stand back and let Trump, Cain and Bachmann test the waters on her behalf. Now she’s in a better position to predict what’s going to happen when she jumps in herself.

  22. Barb Hartwell says:

    If I was a conservative I would be so afraid, There is not one good candidate worth voting for. Why McCain ever brought Sarah to light I will forever be shaking my head. I will vote for her in the primaries though hopefully to watch her square off with Obama.in 2012

  23. superdestroyer says:

    Who cares? As soon as the networks and media start their daily tracking pollls some time in late March 2012, it will be obvious that the Republican candidate will lose in a rout. The only question for the Republicans is whether they can keep the majority in the House. Every possible candidate will harm the down ballot candidates. The question is just how bad the Republican nominee will be.

    Also, if the Republican nominee trails by double digits in every single tracking poll, will there even be much media coverage or will their even be presidential debates. The media had to know that people do not care about lopsided elections and 2012 will be a lopsided election.

  24. Southern Hooser says:

    Wrong poll.

    PICKET: Zogby poll shows Cain overtakes Romney and leads GOP primary field

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/blog/watercooler/2011/may/24/zogby-cain-overtakes-romney-and-leads-gop-primary-/

  25. Pete says:

    Silly Destroyer: Do you believe in Peter Pan?

  26. jukeboxgrad says:

    Southern Hooser:

    Wrong poll.

    The one with the “wrong poll” is probably you. The pollster you are citing is arguably “The Worst Pollster in the World.” So it would probably be a good idea to take their results with a grain of salt.