Huckabee Leads Obama

huckabee-romney-palin-cartoonPublic Policy Polling‘s latest 2012 presidential poll (I know, I know) has Mike Huckabee leading President Obama and Mitt Romney within the margin of error.

Mike Huckabee has a 45-44 advantage over Obama, aided largely by a 44-38 lead with independents. There continues to be no evidence of any negative fallout for Huckabee after murders of police officers committed by an ex-Arkansas inmate whose sentence he had commuted. His 35/29 favorability breakdown is actually slightly better than it was in November before that incident.

Mitt Romney does the next best, trailing Obama 44-42. His favorability is 36/32, and he’s the most popular Republican among independents (41/32). Romney actually matches Huckabee with GOP voters this month and gets over 50%, ending a trend in his numbers that had seemed to spell difficulty for snagging a Republican nomination.

Sarah Palin trails Obama 49-41 largely because she loses 14% of the Republican vote to him, making her the only one of the GOP candidates we tested who Obama could get double digit crossover support against. At the same time Palin continues to be the most well liked potential GOP candidate within her party- at 71% favorability. Her problem appears to be that the Republicans who don’t care for her will go so far as to vote for Obama instead of her.

This was a survey of registered voters with no likely voter screen.  Typically, that skews the poll in favor of Democrats since Republicans typically have disproportionately high turnout.

While a poll conducted this far out has little validity — a point even PPP’s Tom Jensen readily concedes — it’s interesting that Huckabee is the most competitive, let alone that he’d have a substantial lead over Obama among independents.  That’s consistent with November’s Gallup poll, too.

That Palin loses 14% of Republicans to Obama isn’t terribly shocking, either, in that many of us simply don’t consider her presidential timber.

While I’m still holding out hope that a strong governor or some other fresh candidate presents himself, I agree with Bill McInturff that it’s going to be mighty hard for a newcomer to break loose in 2012.

“I always talk about oxygen in a presidential primary race, with the amount of oxygen being finite, meaning attention and coverage,” McInturff tells Whispers. “If Governor
Palin does run, it is difficult to imagine how a new candidate gets the oxygen needed for a breakout,” he says. “In this way, it accrues to the advantage of already established candidates like Palin, Huckabee, and Romney.”

I still consider the nomination Romney’s to lose and his high favorability among independents would seem to make him the best general election candidate. While I’ve got some significant qualms about him, he’s the clubhouse leader to take over the position that McCain held in 2008 as my least unfavorite.

Illustration by Ed Wexler for USN&WR.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics, , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Benedict says:

    I agree with Bill McInturff that it’s going to be mighty hard for a newcomer to break loose in 2012.

    Must disagree with you, James. Whether you believe the Feiler Faster Thesis or not, I think there is an excellent chance that neither you nor I have yet heard of the ultimate Republican nominee in 2012 (see, e.g., Obama circa 2006 and Scott Brown circa January 3, 2010). Then throw into the mix the rise of “celebrity” candidates (even quasi-celebrities like wrestling queen Linda McMahon’s and investment manager and author Peter Schiff’s Senate candidacies here in Connecticut are getting traction, and Larry Kudlow is being recruited in NY), and the outlook at this stage becomes even more unclear.

    Not to sound too much like Glenn Reynolds, but what I take from the performances of Scott Brown and Marco Rubio on one side and Tim Kaine and Michael Steele on the other is that the disintermediation of the traditional political parties is now complete. Which I believe is terrific news for the nation.

  2. James Joyner says:

    I dunno. The GOP has traditionally gone with the candidate whose “turn” it was: McCain, Bush 43, Dole, Bush 41, Reagan, Ford, and Nixon. One has to go all the way back to Goldwater in 1964 — before I was born — to find a nominee who was neither the incumbent president or vice president, the runner up in the previous contest, or the Establishment Consensus Pick.

  3. PD Shaw says:

    Palin 2012 = Hillary Clinton 2008

    Palin would freeze out competitors, but ultimately the Republicans will know that she can’t reach 51% and look for someone else.

  4. yetanotherjohn says:

    I think it is very easy to see how someone low or off the radar screen gets in. Retail politics in Iowa or NH and a ‘surprise’ win. Being visible now as a candidate is drawing a target on yourself.
    I think Hucks showing says more about Obama than Huck. I expect all three candidates to rise as we get more Obama.

  5. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    What part of Palin’s experience and personal popularity do you think disqualifies her to be President of the United States. Is it her stance in defense? How about abortion rights? Government size? What is it James? The fact she is a WOMAN? Your analysis reminds me of he science performed by the East Anglian crue, motley though they be. Have someone read her book to you.

  6. Gustopher says:

    ZR3, despite your bizarre hero worship of Palin, she has a reputation as being something of an idiot.

    But, you know that. So why do you ask?

  7. Gustopher says:

    There continues to be no evidence of any negative fallout for Huckabee after murders of police officers committed by an ex-Arkansas inmate whose sentence he had commuted.

    It’s early. Honestly, I doubt most registered voters even know about it. If he gets in the race in 2012, and is a serious contender, expect it to come out more, and be looked at far more closely.

    That, and the incidents involving Huckabee’s kids — particularly the dog incident and whether Huckabee used his influence to quash criminal charges.

  8. James Joyner says:

    the incidents involving Huckabee’s kids — particularly the dog incident

    That was actually Romney. Unless there’s more than one “dog incident” involving the major 2008 contenders.

  9. Gustopher says:

    Yup, more than one dog incident. Romney put a dog carrier on the roof of a car for long drives, and Huckabee’s kid is reported to have tortured and hung a stray dog.

  10. Have a nice G.A. says:

    she has a reputation as being something of an idiot

    Amongst liberals, so whats that say.Obama is the smartest person to ever live to the same crowd, they still believe in global warming, and think terror agent’s are less of a treat then tea party members, they think you can spend money you don’t have to get out of debt. They believe abortion is not murdering a baby, They believe our common ancestor is an earth worm, Great point you have here.