John Engler, largely based on superior name recognition, is the top choice of Michigan Republicans to take on Debbie Stabenow in 2012. Among the more likely roster of potential GOP contenders Pete Hoekstra is the leader by a good margin with only Mike Cox also hitting double digits.
31% of Republican voters say Engler would be their first choice, followed by 24% for Hoekstra, and 12% for Cox. Rounding out the Republicans polled is Terri Lynn Land at 7%, Candice Miller at 5%, Mike Rogers at 4%, Thad McCotter at 3%, and Tim Leuliette at 0%. If Leuliette, who has shown the most public interest in running so far, somehow ends up in the Senate he will truly be able to say he started with nothing.
Engler has 72% name recognition and that's the main reason for his early lead. 59% of voters know Land, 58% know Hoekstra and Miller, and just 17% have an opinion about Leuliette. With voters who have an opinion about Hoekstra whether it's positive or negative he's actually the top choice of Republicans by a 32-30 margin over Engler. Given that an Engler candidacy seems very unlikely at this point Hoekstra's probably the early front runner on the Republican side if he decides to get into the race.
The numbers on the Presidential side are emblematic of the paradox that plagues Mitt Romney's potential candidacy: he does better than most Republicans with Democrats and independents, but the GOP base just isn't that enthused about him. The general election part of this poll earlier in the week found Romney trailing Barack Obama by only 4 points when the rest of the GOP hopefuls were all down by double digits. But when it comes to who GOP voters in the state want as their nominee Romney can only muster a tie with Mike Huckabee at 22%, with Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich just a little further back at 18% and 15% respectively. Ron Paul actually hits double digits in Michigan at 10%, with Tim Pawlenty at 3%, Mitch Daniels at 2%, and John Thune at 1% rounding out the Republican field.
Full results here