If he decided to run for President Paul Ryan would be the strong first choice of Wisconsin Republicans. 30% say he'd be their pick for the party's nomination followed by Mike Huckabee at 17%, Newt Gingrich at 12%, Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney at 9%, Ron Paul at 5%, Tim Pawlenty at 4%, and Mitch Daniels at 3%.
It may seem unsurprising for a potential Presidential candidate to poll well in their home state. But that's actually been more the exception than the rule in our state by state 2012 GOP surveys so far. Mitt Romney at 47% and John Thune at 37% polled better in their respective home states than Ryan does. But Tim Pawlenty at 24% in Minnesota, Jim DeMint at 24% in South Carolina, Sarah Palin at 15% in Alaska, Gary Johnson at 13% in New Mexico, Rick Santorum at 11% in Pennsylvania, and Rick Perry at 9% in Texas all do worse. So grading it on a curve Ryan's numbers in Wisconsin are quite impressive.
Ryan is a rare House member who's as well known- and better liked- as any of the leading possible Presidential candidates. His favorability of 67/10 in the state tops Sarah Palin's 65/25, which is followed by Mike Huckabee at 58/18, Newt Gingrich at 54/23, and Mitt Romney at 49/25.
Ryan's numbers are interesting but a candidacy from him seems unlikely. If you take him out of the mix Huckabee leads with 23% to 15% for Gingrich and Palin, 12% for Romney, 10% for Pawlenty, 5% for Paul, and 3% for Daniels.
A few observations on these numbers:
-Romney's 12% here is one of the worst performances we've found for him anywhere outside the South. Pawlenty's 10% meanwhile is one of his best, probably owing to Minnesota being next door. It makes you wonder though- will a strong Pawlenty really hurt Romney's chances at the nomination- and keep either of them from winning it? I'm not sure how many Republican primary votes there are out there for comparatively moderate, bland former Governors of a Midwestern pedigree. If Romney and Pawlenty split the votes of folks who are in the market for a candidate like that it's going to make both of their roads pretty hard.
-The main reason for Romney's fourth place finish here besides Pawlenty's strength? He's at 7% with voters describing themselves as 'very conservative.' Poor performances with that group are nothing new for Romney, and they're probably his biggest obstacle to the nomination.
-Huckabee's shaping up to be the strongest Republican candidate in the Big Ten states- in addition to his lead on this Wisconsin poll, he's also led in every other every state we've polled in the region so far in 2011- Pennsylvania, Nebraska, and Iowa. If Huckabee does end up running you're going to have his strength in the South and Midwest butting up against Romney's strength in the Northeast and West.
-This is a bit of a broken record but still an important point: Republican voters love Sarah Palin but don't want her to be their Presidential candidate. She has the highest favorability of the GOPers besides Ryan, 7 points higher than Huckabee's and 11 points higher than Gingrich's. But she still runs 8 points behind Huckabee on Presidential nomination choice and just ties with Gingrich. Liking someone and thinking they should occupy the White House are two very different things.
Full results here