Monday, December 6, 2010

Missouri Republican Numbers

Sarah Steelman's going to have an up hill battle to win the Republican Senate nomination in Missouri if Jim Talent decides to make the race. A PPP poll of GOP voters in the state conducted last week found 53% would like Talent to be their nominee against Claire McCaskill while 26% said Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder (more likely to run for Governor) would be their first choice and only 17% picked Steelman.

Part of the reason for Talent's initial advantage is name recognition. 68% of Republican primary voters know enough about him to have an opinion, while only 38% have one about Steelman. With folks who know Steelman- whether they like her or not- Talent's advantage over her is only 40-28. Those numbers suggest that once Steelman becomes better known the margin between her and Talent will tighten.

Talent is overwhelmingly well liked by the GOP electorate with 55% of voters having a favorable opinion of him to only 13% with an unfavorable one. Noteworthy within his numbers is that he's actually slightly more popular with conservatives at this point (57/11) than he is with moderates (49/18). If Steelman's goal is to provide an alternative to Talent from the right she's going to have a lot of work to do to convince conservatives who currently like him that she'd be a better choice.

All of that said if there's one thing we learned from this year's Republican primary season it's that the nature of these races can change very fast and that someone who once seemed out of the running can catch a head of steam even in just the final month of an election and come out on top. So Steelman has plenty of room to grow and time to gain on Talent.

When it comes to the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination picture in Missouri Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin are out ahead of the pack with 27% and 25% respectively. Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney are a good deal back with 15% and 14%, followed by Ron Paul at 5%, Tim Pawlenty at 3%, John Thune at 2%, and Mitch Daniels at 1%.

Only 47% of Republican primary voters in Missouri have a favorable opinion of Romney, well below the 76% who like Huckabee, 72% who like Palin, and even the 57% who see Gingrich positively. Romney's poor performance is symbolic of an emerging trend in our 2012 polling- he tends to be a lot stronger in states that Barack Obama won in 2008 than he is in ones that went for John McCain. That's a double edged sword for him- he's frequently putting up general election numbers that make him look like the the most formidable nominee the Republicans could put forward. But at the same time his path to getting that nomination looks difficult with red state Republicans much less enthusiastic about Romney than the other folks in the game.

Continuing a trend we pointed out in Montana on Friday, Huckabee leads Palin 32-26 with women while Palin is up 24-22 on him with men. That's something we're seeing in a lot of states.

Full results here


Anonymous said...

Romney is not any more formidable in the general election than Huckabee.

And Palin is a disaster in the general election.

Like it or not, Huckabee is your strongest candidate all the way round.

Murdock Wallis said...

Is it really a primary problem for Romney? A Republican convention delegate from a blue state counts the same as a delegate from a red state. All that matters is how many delegates you win, not where they come from.

So, if Romney is doing well in states that went for Obama and poorly in states that went for McCain, then how many Republican convention delegates come from states Obama won and how many come from states McCain won? The answer to that question would tell us the significance of this post.

Dustin Ingalls said...

"Romney is not any more formidable in the general election than Huckabee."

Depends on the state. We haven't done polling in enough states yet to say definitively(and, of course, the campaign hasn't even begun yet, and things change). But in polling done so far, Huckabee is the most formidable in the South and rural states like Montana (though Romney doesn't do as badly as Palin or Gingrich, generally), and Romney in the North, Midwest, and West--basically the blue states and swing states where Obama won.

"So, if Romney is doing well in states that went for Obama and poorly in states that went for McCain, then how many Republican convention delegates come from states Obama won and how many come from states McCain won?"

Well, that question's easy to answer. Obama won so many populous states that his states would have far more delegates. But the other two questions: which states have proportional allocation and which winner-take-all? And, bigger than that: which candidates are even left to compete in most of these states? I think it'll come down to whoever wins Iowa and/or SC placing well enough in other states that Romney looks likely to win (NH, NV, maybe FL) to go toe-to-toe with him down the stretch, and then we'll see if Romney's lead in the blue states on Super Tuesday holds up, or if that more conservative challenger galvanizes and consolidates the opposition to Romney.

Chris M said...

Sarah Steelman is not a popular among Missouri Republican Party regulars because she vocally opposed the earmarks and favoritism of Party favorites like Kenny Holshof. The Party's leadership has a built-in bias for Washington insiders like Talent, Holshof, and Blunt against the Tea Party candidates like Steelman and Purgason who are popular with the real Missouri voters.

NRH said...

The problem Romney has with winning blue states is that the Republican allocation formula rewards states that routinely vote for Republican presidential candidates and also rewards states with Republican representatives and Senators. Nearly half of the entire Republican congressional delegation comes from the South, meaning Huckabee would stand to win an extra several hundred delegates if he wins his base region, and that's before allocating extra delegates for a Republican history. Romney's strongest states have relatively few Republican representatives, senators, or governors, and mostly won't be getting bonus delegates for presidential elections.

The delegate map is not the same as the electoral college map; both parties weight their decision process to account for a state's partisan bent.

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