Only 38% of Republican primary voters say they're willing to support a candidate for President next year who firmly rejects the birther theory and those folks want Mitt Romney to be their nominee for President next year. With the other 62% of Republicans- 23% of whom say they are only willing to vote for a birther and 39% of whom are not sure- Donald Trump is cleaning up. And as a result Trump's ridden the controversy about Barack Obama's place of birth to the highest level of support we've found for anyone in our national GOP polling so far in 2011.
Trump's broken the perpetual gridlock we've found at the top of the Republican field, getting 26% to 17% for Mike Huckabee, 15% for Romney, 11% for Newt Gingrich, 8% for Sarah Palin, 5% for Ron Paul, and 4% for Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty.
Among that 23% only willing to vote for a birther Trump is cleaning up even more, getting 37% to 13% for Huckabee and Palin, and 10% for Romney and Gingrich. He's a lot weaker with the 38% who say they're perfectly happy to vote for someone who's dismissed the birther theory- with them Romney leads at 23%, with Huckabee at 18%, Trump at 17%, Gingrich at 10%, and Palin at only 7%.
I'm still pretty skeptical that Trump's going to run but if he doesn't someone who taps into the same sort of hard, hard right sentiment he's appealing to right now will get their votes- it's hard to imagine these folks voting for a more centrist candidate like Romney or Pawlenty. And that means there's a very serious contingent within the Republican Party that's less concerned with beating Barack Obama than having a nominee who gets them fired up. That suggests many GOP voters have not learned the lessons of Nevada and Delaware and that Obama may survive despite his weak approval numbers because the Republicans end up defeating themselves.
If you take Trump out of the mix Huckabee leads with 22% to 16% for Romney, 15% for Gingrich, 12% for Palin, 8% for Paul, 6% for Pawlenty and Bachmann, and 3% for Haley Barbour.
If you look at the field with Huckabee, Palin, and Trump all out of the mix you end up with a showdown between Romney and Gingrich. Romney gets 25% to 23% for Gingrich, 13% for Paul, 10% for Pawlenty, 8% for Bachmann, and 4% for Barbour.
Full results here