Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mixed news for Santorum

Rick Santorum is the first choice of Pennsylvania Republicans to try to recapture his old Senate seat next year...but they're a lot less interested in him as a potential Presidential candidate.

45% of GOP voters in the state would like him to be the one who takes on Bob Casey, with none of the other names being thrown around right now even hitting double digits. Congressman Jim Gerlach leads the 'best of the rest' with 9%, followed by former Governor Mark Schweiker and Congressman Charlie Dent at 8%, Congressman Tim Murphy at 7%, state Senator Jake Corman at 3%, and announced candidate Marc Scaringi and state Senator Kim Ward at 1%.

This early desire for Santorum probably has a lot to do with how well known he is compared to the rest of the potential GOP contenders. 81% of Pennsylvania Republicans have an opinion about him compared to just 33% for Schweiker, 24% for Gerlach, 18% for Dent, and 12% for Scaringi. We didn't test favorability for Murphy, Corman, and Ward but it seems likely their name recognition is in the same range as Dent and Scaringi.

If you ask Republicans in the state who their top choice is without Santorum in the picture there is very little consensus. Schweiker comes out on top but with only 18%, followed by Gerlach at 14%, Murphy at 13%, Dent at 10%, Corman at 9%, Ward at 2%, and Scaringi at 1%. It seems likely that there will be a pretty wide open and competitive primary to take on Casey assuming that Santorum does not end up running.

Although Santorum's the top choice of Republicans in the state for the Senate, there is little support for a Presidential bid from him. Tested against the usual laundry list of potential GOP Presidential candidates he comes in a distant 5th place with 11%. Leading the way is Mike Huckabee at 21%, followed by Sarah Palin at 18%, Newt Gingrich at 16%, and Mitt Romney at 14%. Tim Pawlenty leads the second tier of candidates with 6%, Ron Paul gets 4%, and Mitch Daniels just barely registers at 1%.

Part of the reason for Santorum's poor Presidential standing may be that Republicans in the state would rather he ran for the Senate next year but another part of it is that he's simply not as popular with GOP voters in the state as some of the other potential GOP contenders, in particular Huckabee and Palin. Santorum's net favorability is +27 with 54% of primary voters viewing him favorably and 27% unfavorably. That puts him a full 20 points behind Huckabee whose net favorability is +47 at 64/17 and 8 points behind Palin who's at +35 with 63% seeing her positively and 28% unfavorably.

If you take Santorum out of the equation for President in the state Huckabee leads with 26% to 21% for Palin, 16% for Romney, and 15% for Gingrich.

Pennsylvania will probably not be an important state in the Republican nomination process but it doesn't bode well for Santorum that voters in his own backyard are less than keen on him as a Presidential candidate. If he really ends up running he'll have to hope he comes across better to the folks in places like Iowa and New Hampshire getting to know him for the first time than he does to the ones in Pennsylvania who know him best.

Full results here

3 comments:

DBL said...

I'm surprised Huckabee and Palin are #1-#2 in Pennsylvania, mainly because I doubt that'd be the case with the Republicans where I grew up. Do you have anything on how this broke down geographically? I guess you don't ask questions on education or household income, but you might want to consider that. You could also ask Republicans what their most important issue is for deciding on a candidate. Huckabee and Palin supposedly appeal stronger to values voters, while Romney and Gingrich appeal to fiscal voters.

Palin leads with "Republican liberals" by a wide margin. I assume that because they are 3% of the survey the numbers are too small to be reliable. When talking to only Republicans you might be better off with only two options, "moderate" and "conservative."

Dustin Ingalls said...

"Do you have anything on how this broke down geographically?"

Not offhand, but I'd imagine the western part of the state is giving them their strength. The two were doing well in Ohio and Illinois, and I'd imagine they'd be doing well in Indiana if we could poll it. Romney's probably doing well along the Philly/Jersey/NY burbs. Just a hunch.

"When talking to only Republicans you might be better off with only two options, "moderate" and "conservative.""

Can't really do that--it's the same question we ask to everyone. We just take the responses of those who say they usually vote in Republican primaries. We could eliminate the liberals, but that'd be disingenuous, because even if they aren't truly liberal, they still are Republican voters.

NRH said...

Pennsylvania has three regions. Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Pennsyltucky. Rural PA voters are every bit as likely to go for a god-guns-n-gays good ol' boy candidate like Huckabee as a rural Kentuckian voter. Pennsylvania Republicans who hail from the suburbs and exurbs are more likely to be fiscal conservatives, but urban-centric areas are Democratic bastions, not the heart of Republicanism.

 
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