Raleigh, N.C. – Two years before President Barack Obama’s GOP opponent will be decided, there is no evident pacesetter in the still-unsettled field, with a different victor in each of the three early primary and caucus states polled in the past week by PPP.
In Iowa, 2008 winner Mike Huckabee comes out ahead, with 27% to Sarah Palin’s 17%, Newt Gingrich’s 16%, Mitt Romney’s 15%, Ron Paul’s 7%, and John Thune’s and Jim DeMint’s 2%. Huckabee wins among both moderates and conservatives.
New PPP polls on the 2012 Republican field in Iowa, Michigan, and South Carolina make that much more clear what we've been saying for weeks now- there is no front runner to take on Barack Obama. A different potential contender leads in each of the three states.
In Iowa Mike Huckabee won the caucus by about 10 points in 2008 and he's the top choice of Republicans in the state now by an almost identical margin. He finishes first at 27%. The second place finisher then was Mitt Romney but he places fourth in this poll, albeit only a point or two behind Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich. Palin comes in at 17%, followed by Gingrich at 16%, and Romney at 15%.
The Iowa numbers make it clear that Jim DeMint's rise as a national figure is more of an insider thing than anything else- he registers at just 2% in Iowa. South Dakota Senator John Thune gets a similar 2%. Not surprisingly Ron Paul does the best of the second tier candidates at 7%. (We didn''t include Tim Pawlenty, Haley Barbour, or Rick Santorum on this particular poll because they all got 3% or less on a similar New Hampshire poll two months ago.)
In South Carolina Gingrich leads with 25% but Romney (24%) and Palin (22%) are not far behind. While Huckabee's continuing support in Iowa is impressive his standing in South Carolina (19%) is perhaps surprisingly weak. He finished 14 points ahead of Romney in the state in 2008 but now trails him by 5. The two biggest takeaways from the South Carolina numbers are probably that 1) Gingrich is a very legitimate candidate if he decides to get in and 2) Romney may not win the South if he runs but he won't be irrelevant there either.
We also just for fun threw in a permutation of the question with Jim DeMint included as a possible Republican candidate and he does lead the way with 21% to 16% for Gingrich and Romney and 15% for Huckabee and Palin. PPP found last week that only 15% of South Carolinians overall and 24% of Republicans want DeMint to run for President but he does at least have support from the small group of constituents who want him to gun for the White House.
In Michigan Romney won the primary with 39% in 2008 and he's still pretty much there, leading the way with 37% for 2012. Palin comes in second at with 24%, followed by Gingrich at 16%, and Huckabee at 12%.
The numbers continue to show strong support for Romney with moderates but weak support from conservatives, a formula that could cost him the nomination given the direction of the Republican Party. For instance in South Carolina he leads Gingrich by 22 points with moderates but trails him by 8 points with conservatives, dropping him into second place. In Michigan where Romney perhaps ought to have a large advantage thanks to his family ties in the state he leads Palin by 48 points with moderates but only 3 points with conservatives.
These numbers can't be seen as a particularly great sign for Palin either. Although she has a solid base of support in every state where we've looked at the 2012 contest the truth remains that she's led in few of them. And in both Iowa and South Carolina she runs behind Gingrich with conservatives, an indication he could end up as the darling of the right if he makes the race rather than Palin.
They're really not great news for Huckabee either. In 2008 he won in Iowa but failed to get the nomination because he couldn't build on that victory in other states. His polling in South Carolina and Michigan on these polls and previously in New Hampshire leaves something to be desired.
The biggest takeaway from these numbers? The GOP race is wide open and there is a lot of room for someone who isn't all that well known right now to step in and make a very serious bid at the nomination.
On Memorial Day we'll release 2012 GOP President numbers for the key early states of Iowa, Michigan, and South Carolina. Stay tuned for that.
Next weekend it's time for our monthly national poll and our North Carolina one so we're open to suggestions on the usual three fronts:
-Who should we include as the 'bonus' Republican on the 2012 Presidential poll? After scraping the bottom of the barrel for Gary Johnson earlier this month I'm open again now to including people we've done on previous polls.
-What interesting questions should we put on our national and North Carolina polls?
We'll have Iowa and Michigan numbers coming out all week.
Raleigh, N.C. – It is a tale of two Sanfords in South Carolina, as former First Lady Jenny Sanford is the most popular public figure PPP has measured in the state. Her ex-husband, Governor Mark Sanford, has a job approval rating even worse than the 36-51 measured the last time PPP polled the state, in December 2009, before the couple’s divorce.
Jenny Sanford has a personal favorability figure of 61-16. Inversely to what PPP found with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s bipartisan unpopularity in California, Sanford is equally popular with Democrats and Republicans, and is actually slightly more popular with Barack Obama voters than John McCain voters. Her popularity decreases rightward along the ideological spectrum; the opposite is true for her ex.
The main reason Scott Brown was able to pull off a shocking upset in the Massachusetts Senate race earlier this year was that he beat Martha Coakley 55-41 with moderate voters. Just how rare of a feat is that for a Republican Senate candidate? There isn't a single other one in a competitive Senate race we've polled this year leading with moderates- in fact with the exception of Florida the Democratic candidate is up by at least 8 points with centrist voters in every race.
It's just another data point showing that Democratic troubles this year are not the result of them losing the center, but of conservative voters being more motivated to turn out. In places like Kentucky and Missouri, where the GOP will be slightly favored to win this fall, Robin Carnahan and Jack Conway lead their respective Republican opponents by 40 points with moderates. Democratic candidates also have 20+ point leads with moderates in places like North Carolina, Colorado, and Ohio.
I think we may have all (myself included) made too much of the impending doom the Massachusetts results portended for Democrats this year. The combination of an exceptionally strong Republican candidate in Brown and an exceptionally weak Democratic candidate in Coakley created a formula that made it possible for the GOP to win moderate voters. But the Republicans haven't shown the ability to replicate that formula in any other key Senate contest yet, and as a result Democrats are decidedly winning the center.
Here's out Senate data on moderates:
-Jack Conway leads Rand Paul 60-20 -Robin Carnahan leads Roy Blunt 61-21 -Elaine Marshall leads Richard Burr 59-24, Cal Cunningham leads Burr 54-26 -Michael Bennet leads Jane Norton 54-31 -Lee Fisher leads Rob Portman 47-27 -Joe Sestak leads Pat Toomey 45-29 -Alexi Giannoulias leads Mark Kirk 36-23 -Harry Reid leads Sue Lowden 51-41 -Blanche Lincoln leads John Boozman 49-40, Bill Halter leads Boozman 45-36 -Paul Hodes leads Kelly Ayotte 47-39 -Charlie Crist has 34% to 32% for Kendrick Meek and 19% for Marco Rubio
Nothing brings up a female political figure's popularity like getting cheated on by their husband.
Jenny Sanford has the best poll numbers of anyone we've looked at so far in 2010, with 61% of South Carolina voters viewing her favorably to just 16% with an unfavorable opinion of her. That positive view of Sanford holds true across the board with 61% of Democrats, 61% of Republicans, and 58% of independents all holding a positive opinion of her.
The last woman we found with these kinds of poll numbers was Elizabeth Edwards. Although her numbers have dropped since then, last May 58% of North Carolinians viewed her favorably to just 22% who had a negative opinion of her.
Hillary Clinton also saw a large increase in her personal popularity after the whole Monica Lewinsky saga.
Sanford's ex-husband is doing a little less well in the polls. Only 33% of voters in the state approve of his job performance while 56% give him bad marks. He's still at 53% with Republican voters but his popularity has completely tanked with independents (30%) and Democrats (10%).
If Jenny Sanford ever decides she wants to run for office she'll be able to get elected to whatever she wants if she can keep up these kinds of numbers.
PPP is best known for putting out highly accurate polling on key political races across the country, but we also do affordable private research for candidates and organizations. Why pay tens of thousands of dollars for a survey when one of the most reliable companies in the nation can do it for less?"