Monday, December 13, 2010

Independents on the GOP Hopefuls

Last week we took a look at how the various Republican contenders for President in 2012 do with Republicans- Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee hold the base better than Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin- and how they do with Democrats- they all do about the same even though Democratic voters like Huckabee the best.

Today we take on independents, which is where we see the widest variability in how the four Republicans do in the 7 states where we've looked ahead to the 2012 Presidential contest so far.

Romney leads Barack Obama by an average of 4 points across those states. Huckabee trails by an average of 4 points. Gingrich trails by an average of 11 points. And Sarah Palin is down by an average of 16 points. The differences in how independents respond to the Republicans are much greater than the differences in the numbers they get from Democrats or Republicans.

Even if you take Michigan and Massachusetts, which you could argue are biased toward Romney, out of the mix his average lead remains 4 points with Huckabee averaging a draw, Gingrich trailing by an average of 7 points, and Palin trailing by an average of 12 points.

Romney is clearly the strongest of the leading Republicans with independents...his problem is that he's also the least well liked of the Republicans with Republicans. The fate of his candidacy may come down to Republican voters making this choice: would they rather have someone they don't love that much who has the best chance of beating Obama, or someone they do love but whose chances of winning a general election are spottier. If 2010 is any guide Romney may not come out very well when Republican regulars are making that calculus.

The other interesting thing in these numbers is that across the 28 match ups we've tested so far- four potential Republicans in seven different states- Barack Obama leads by an average of 7 points. That's pretty remarkable coming off an election where Democrats were clocked with independents everywhere but it tells us two things: 1) this year's independent vote may have been an anomaly largely driven by more centrist Democratic leaning independents not showing up, which means Republicans are not likely to see the kinds of margins they posted this year again anytime soon and 2) these Republican candidates are really, really weak.

Here's the full data:

Gingrich

Huckabee

Palin

Romney

Michigan

-27

-21

-36

-1

Minnesota

-18

-12

-25

-2

Massachusetts

-11

-10

-17

+11

Missouri

+2

+12

-5

+12

North Carolina

+5

+9

+4

+13

Montana

-17

-5

-18

-5

Virginia

-8

-2

-17

Tie

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Not 1 of these 4 will be the Republican nominee.

DBL said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again. It's possible none of these states matters. The important states are Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. Iowa and Nevada are limited to those who participate in caucuses.

If a candidate doesn't win at least one of these, they won't be around after that. The Republicans have yet to come out with a schedule. Some of these states may be early, while others are late. That doesn't mean they won't matter, only that the circumstances are different.

You've polled none of them, however. All your other polls are only relevant after we know how the candidates are polling in those four.

Dustin Ingalls said...

DBL, we're talking about how the candidates fare in the general election here. Also, we did poll NH and NV right before the 2010 election, and released those numbers in the week after the election.

DBL said...

You were talking about Romney's chances of winning the GOP nomination in the fifth paragraph.

You put a lot of states out at the same time, so I must've missed them. Your polls show Romney in a landslide in both Nevada and New Hampshire. He beats Palin, Gingrich, and Huckabee COMBINED by 7 points in NH. If anything your survey undersells his support in Nevada. Since those are caucuses, turn out is lower and only the more dedicated go.

Nevada is 7% Mormon. Nearly all of those are Republicans and they turn up heavier in a caucus. Romney could get 18% of the vote just with Mormons.

Romney will get a 1st or 2nd in Iowa and probably a 3rd in South Carolina. By that point the field will have narrowed and it depends on what's next. If they adopt the Ohio plan, Romney has Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Idaho locked up.

If Romney runs a campaign in 2012 as good as he ran it in 2008, he's got the nomination. And he should be better this time.

Dustin Ingalls said...

Romney's certainly raking in NH so far, and doing well in NV and FL, but I wouldn't count on him clearing the field like that with strong early showings. He wasn't winning ME when we polled it before the election (granted, that was in a very Tea Party-heavy electorate, but I wouldn't discount that being the case again if they remain emboldened and if they put up a challenge to Snowe). There's certainly going to be someone else standing toe-to-toe with him after Super Tuesday, and it'll be a more conservative candidate, and when it's Romney and a conservative head-to-head, that's when the calculus talked about in the fifth paragraph comes into play.

MrTemecula said...

This is a great poll. Romney apparently has chosen the "I'm conservative, too, but I can beat Obama" strategy. However, too many look at Romney and see McCain with better hair. Romney needs to change his strategy for a long march. He's going to lose badly in Iowa (too many hardcore Christians), barely win in New Hampshire and lose again in South Carolina. Romney has to find a way to survive until Florida and Ohio. Maybe Nevada gives him the momentum for those swing-states. However, Romney just doesn't have that core of supporters that can sustain him through the tough states like Palin. Still, I think Palin, Huckabee and Romeney have too many flaws. I think Jeb Bush or Rick Perry will try to swoop in.

 
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