Over the last two weeks we released polls showing Mitt Romney ahead of the Republican field in Iowa and South Carolina and that's good news for him but digging deeper into the numbers on those polls there's some even better news.
There's a general school of thought that Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, and Newt Gingrich are all sort of eating into the same pool of voters and that if one of them ends up as the last one standing with Romney he'll be in a lot of trouble because supporters of all those candidates will consolidate around the last remaining more conservative alternative.
That's not really true though. In South Carolina we found that Romney would lead a head to head with Palin 50-38 and in Iowa he would beat her 48-41. One on one against Bachmann he would lead 54-29 in South Carolina and 46-38 in Iowa. Against Cain it would be 53-29 in South Carolina and 48-34 in Iowa.
Those wide leads are because the Gingrich/Palin/Bachmann/Cain crowd wouldn't, at least at this point, unite around the last conservative standing. In South Carolina Gingrich/Cain/Bachmann voters would only go 45-41 for Palin over Romney. In Iowa it's wider at 53-37 for those supporters going to Palin over Romney but it's not an en masse migration toward the more conservative candidate by any means. Supporters of Palin/Gingrich/Cain actually go for Romney 43-37 over Bachmann in South Carolina and give Bachmann only a 47-40 advantage over him in Iowa. And Gingrich/Palin/Bachmann voters support Romney 48-28 over Cain in South Carolina and 49-30 in Iowa.
Right now the evidence isn't there to think that supporters of some of the fringier Republican candidates will end up uniting against Romney.