I've been writing quite a bit lately about how the most prominent potential Republican candidates for 2012 don't have a lot of appeal to the moderate wing of the party. Is Tim Pawlenty the answer?
We'll swap him out for Jeb Bush on our next national poll to see how well known he is at this stage (probably not very) but let's take a look at how he does in Minnesota on that front.
When we polled Minnesota in July Pawlenty's approval with moderate Republicans was 68%. On the most recent national poll the favorabilities of the GOP field with the moderate wing of their party ranged from 54% for Mike Huckabee to 31% for Jeb Bush. So he does comparatively well on that front.
How about his performance against Barack Obama among moderate Republicans? He led 81-11. By comparison Mike Huckabee led nationally 72-21, Mitt Romney did 67-20, Sarah Palin did 51-34, and Jeb Bush did 46-31. So Pawlenty did better on that front as well.
Now you might say well Pawlenty's the Governor of Minnesota so of course his numbers are better. But it's worth noting that his overall approval rating on that survey was 44/48...and of course his victories for Governor have been narrow ones. So he's pulling strong numbers among moderate Republicans in a universe that's not overwhelmingly friendly to him.
It'll be interesting to see how he plays nationally, and we'll take our first look at that later this month.