New PPP polls on the Republican Presidential race in North Carolina and West Virginia confirm a couple of the continuing trends we've been seeing in our numbers so far in 2011: Mike Huckabee leads most places, Mitt Romney has serious issues with conservatives and in the South, Sarah Palin's popularity with the GOP base doesn't equate to its wanting her to be their nominee, and Newt Gingrich is just kind of hanging around.
In North Carolina Huckabee is the top choice of 27% of Republicans in the state to 18% for Gingrich, 16% for Palin, 11% for Romney, 7% for Tim Pawlenty, 6% for Ron Paul, 3% for Mitch Daniels, and 1% for John Thune. Huckabee is tops in West Virginia as well with 28% to 23% for Palin, 17% for Gingrich, 10% for Romney, 6% for Paul, 5% for Pawlenty, 2% for Daniels, and less than 1% for Thune.
PPP has now polled 7 states in 2011: Iowa, Nevada, Texas, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey in addition to these two. Huckabee clearly has the momentum- he's led outright in 5 of the states and tied in a 6th. Meanwhile Romney has managed to lead in only one state while tying in another and Palin and Gingrich each lead nowhere.
One of Palin's biggest issues right now is the disconnect between Republicans liking her and supporting her. She has the highest favorability of the leading GOPers in North Carolina at 72%, with Huckabee at 70%, Gingrich at 62%, and Romney at 50%. But she's still 11 back of Huckabee and a couple behind even Gingrich in the horse race. She has a long way to go to convince the party base that she's Presidential stock.
The news is worse for Romney than Palin though. He is in a distant fourth place in both of these states, as he was in a Texas poll we did last week. That suggests limited appeal in the delegate rich South. Beyond that his poor performance is yet another sign of his comparatively poor appeal to conservatives. In North Carolina Romney's favorability with them is anywhere from 17 to 26 points worse than his fellow contenders. It's 52% to 69% for Gingrich, 73% for Huckabee, and 78% for Palin. It's a similar story in West Virginia. There he runs anywhere from 9 to 34 points behind the rest of the pack at 60% to Gingrich's 69%, Palin's 75%, and Huckabee's 84%.
Given his lesser popularity it's no surprise that his horse race standing with conservatives is a weak 10% in West Virginia and 9% in North Carolina. These states aren't likely to be real important to the GOP nomination contest, but they exemplify larger problems for Romney.
Next week we'll have numbers out in the really important southern state: South Carolina.
Full results here