Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The 2012 GOP Contest

Our national polling on the 2012 Republican Presidential contest pretty consistently shows what amounts to a four way tie between Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, and Newt Gingrich. But to get a feel of how things might play out in reality it's interesting to look at the polls we've conducted in each of the five states that are likely to hold pre-Super Tuesday contests in 2012.

In Iowa our late May poll found that Mike Huckabee would still be the top candidate in the state with 27% to 17% for Sarah Palin, 16% for Newt Gingrich, and 15% for Mitt Romney. Huckabee would get much less of a boost from winning Iowa than the average Presidential contender does though because there would be a certain 'been there, done that' feeling to his victory. Coverage would likely focus less on Huckabee's winning and more on whether he could do a better job of building on that victory in 2012 than he did in 2008.

Next would come New Hampshire, where Mitt Romney currently leads with 31% to 14% for Gingrich, 12% for Huckabee, and 9% for Palin. Romney would obviously get a huge boost from a resounding victory where he fell short in 2008. Things would start getting very hot for Sarah Palin, with the media wondering why Palin's rock star status wasn't actually translating into any votes.

At that point with South Carolina and Nevada on the horizon the Palmetto State would be looked at as a must win for Palin and Gingrich, and probably Huckabee as well to some extent. Nevada would be expected to go for Romney again as it did in 2008 but he would have an opportunity to land a virtual knockout punch if he could sweep the day by adding South Carolina to his victory list as well.

Our numbers right now suggest that Romney would repeat his Nevada victory. He's currently polling at 34% to 28% for Gingrich, 16 for Palin, and 11% for Huckabee. He would not get his game changing victory in South Carolina though. Right now Newt Gingrich has an ever so slight lead there at 25%, followed by Romney at 24%, Palin at 22%, and Huckabee at 19%. Obviously the difference between winning a primary by a point and losing by one is pretty negligible in terms of actual numbers, but in terms of perception it would keep the Gingrich candidacy alive.

The day of voting in South Carolina and Nevada would quite possibly spell the end of Palin and Huckabee's campaigns. Following up his Iowa win with a 3rd place finish and 2 4ths in the next set of contests would make it clear that he was a one trick Iowa pony and didn't have the ability to compete successfully in other states, particularly if he did worse in South Carolina this time than he did in 2008. For Palin following up a distant 2nd place finish in Iowa and an extremely disappointing 4th place finish in New Hampshire with 3rd place rankings in South Carolina and Nevada would add fuel to the fire that her campaign was going nowhere.

So it's quite possible at that point the race would go to Florida as a contest between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. That's where things could get interesting. Right now Romney leads there with 31% to 23% for Gingrich and Palin and 15% for Huckabee. But there's no doubt a big reason Romney polls so well in the early states right now is the conservative vote splitting three ways, and it seems quite possible Gingrich would pick up a lot of Palin and Huckabee's support. If Romney was able to win Florida anyway, especially if it was by a wide margin, that would have the potential to spell the end of the road. But if Gingrich won and emerged with co-front runner status we could be in for one heck of a protracted contest.

And yes I think other Republican candidates could become real players in the field and this polling is obviously very early in the game. Doesn't mean it's not fun to think about


The Interesting Times said...

Do you think Huckabee or Palin would drop out of the race that early, or would they hold out until Super Tuesday?

truthman said...

your refusal to poll beck is insulting.

sure you pretend to include in him the poll, but you'll rig it for mitch "culture war truce" daniels, a RINO if there ever was one

Anonymous said...

Actually, in New Hampshire, Ron Paul came in third, ahead of both Huckabee and Palin.

Huckapedia said...


You forgot the "all important" equation in your prediction - The General Elections outcome.

Only Huckabee can compete with Obama in the General Elections:

1) Huckabee's communication skills is 2nd to none. He is the Great Communicator. This is why McCain lost in the General Elections but won the Primaries. McCain doesn't have the communication skills to go up against Obama. He won the loyal Republican support but that doesnt translate into a General Election win.

2) Huckabee polls better with African American's and in the South. He has a better advantage of pulling votes away from Obama, where other Republicans can't.

3) Huckabee polls better with Main Street folks. Again he can pull votes away from Obama, especially if the economy hasn't recovered in 2012.

If the Republican party want's to secure a "Republican Presidential Win" in 2012, THEY MUST get behind Huckabee early in the Primaries. Otherwise they are setting themselves as a party to go out of extinction by fractioning groups.

This is why "Huckabee" will win the Republican primaries in IA, NH, SC and FL. The Republican party bosses (establishment) knows this is the only way to win the General Elections. They will get behind Huckabee before Iowa primaries begin just as they did with Ronald Reagan in 1980 to overcome George Bush Sr. who was the Financial arm of the Republican party which Romney is seen as now.

May I suggest you re-evaulate your analysis to put this "all important" calcuation into your factor. It (WILL) happen, the Republican party establishment can not go down in defeat a 2nd time. They will back Huckabee in the primaries, just wait and watch, it will happen.

Anonymous said...

Considering that:

- Rand Paul gets elected in November
- Ron Paul wins CPAC 2011 in a landslide (a repeat of CPAC 2010)
- Ron Paul wins Iowa Straw Poll because straw polls emphasize enthusiastic supporters, not width of support
- Ron Paul will do well in Iowa Caucuses, as caucuses also emphasize enthusiastic supporters, not width of support
- Ron Paul is polling at 13% in New Hampshire, ahead of Huck and Palin
- The libertarian "Free State Project" in New Hampshire will provide RP an army of ground volunteers.

... isn't Ron Paul a legit contender?

(enthusiasm of support has gotta count for something)

Anonymous said...

If the GOP is stuck with the 2008 re-treads go ahead and give Obama the presidency for 4 more years.

The GOP's strongest presidential candidates will not be ready by 2012. They will be ready though in 2016.

Anonymous said...

How come you haven't included Basil Marceaux? He's likely to be Governor Marceaux of Tennessee come 2012. I suspect his message of ending traffic stop slavery will have wide appeal in the Republican primaries.

Greg Alterton said...

Good grief. The race hasn't begun, and the only one whom everyone assumes will be running (he's been running for two years), is Romney. And yet, you've figured out where Sarah Palin's campaign will finally come to an end. Let's get real.

Anonymous said...

A few comments on your 2012 analysis:

Firstly, with no malice intended, your SC poll consisted of a few hundred people (purporting to represent hundreds of thousands of likely voters), in a primary two years down the line -- one in which Huckabee comes in fourth place (although only six points from the first place Newt) even though in 2008 he claimed second place and lost by merely 3 points, even though he was far less known.

Secondly, your polls are taken in a vacuum, totally ignoring the momentum of the preceding caucuses and primaries. In 2008, Huckabee won IA, McCain won NH and Mcain won SC -- Romney did not come out of nowhere to win SC (as your scenario suggests would happen to Newt). Both Palin and Gingrich's momentum would be tacked down by the time SC came into play -- far greater than with Huckabee (with IA behind him).

Thirdly, electability counts -- and your own polls show that, in the main, Huckabee has consecutively done the best against Obama for the last year and a half, Romney very closely behind.

Fourthly, likeability is probably the most important clue this early in the game. Considering all four top tier candidates are of equal recognition (Palin with the greatest edge), Huckabee has by far the best net favorable ratio --in your polls and other major pollsters.

Lastly, even in your scenario -- i.e., Newt winning SC (which I think is unlikely), he is no more in at that point than Huckabee.

You can always run polls for fun (as long as we recognize the frivility) -- but long-range analsyis should wisely be kept at a minimum.

Anonymous said...

Ron Paul beats 'Em All.

Dustin Ingalls said...

"Huckabee has by far the best net favorable ratio --in your polls and other major pollsters."

Not among Republicans. Palin takes that cake.

"How come you haven't included Basil Marceaux?"

HAHA! I hadn't even heard of this guy before, but looked him up and saw him on Jimmy Kimmel. You're joking, right?

Anonymous said...

"Huckabee has by far the best net favorable ratio --in your polls and other major pollsters."

"Not among Republicans. Palin takes that cake."

I was discussing "electability" and thus net favorabilities among the general population. Palin may have the best favorabilities among republicans but she is net negative anywhere between -5 to -20points, depending on the pollster, in the general election. And Huckabee clearly holds himself well among republicans.

In the all-important general election (because you will not become the nominee if it is evident that you cannot beat Obama), Huckabee has the best net favorable ratio amongst all pollsters.

The Interesting Times said...

"You forgot the 'all important' equation in your prediction - The General Elections outcome."

That calculation has yet to prove even slightly important in any GOP primary this year.

Thus far, the Republicans have all nominated their more conservative but weaker choices. Electability has not been part of the equation.

You are anticipating a major change in attitude that simply isn't in evidence.

The Interesting Times said...

"... isn't Ron Paul a legit contender?"


Paul has yet to poll above 13% in any state PPP has covered so far. Usually he polls in the single digits, down there with the zero name recognition candidates like Thune.

He has yet to show an outright win in even a single state. With many states being winner-take-all, you simply can't win a primary without winning outright in a bunch of states.

Ron Paul has consistently performed as a fourth-tier candidate in my 2012 convention delegate calculations. He gets only 20 delegates at this point, similar to his total in 2008. In fact, he's the only candidate PPP regularly polls that is still in the double digits in the delegate count.

Dustin Ingalls said...

"because you will not become the nominee if it is evident that you cannot beat Obama"

You would think so. It was certainly a calculus Dems made in '04 when it came to beating Bush, which is part of why Kerry surged in Iowa and NH late in the game against Dean. But Republicans haven't shown such pragmatism in most of their primaries this year. In almost all high-profile cases, the most conservative, least electable candidate is being chosen to face the Dem nominee.

The Interesting Times said...

"Secondly, your polls are taken in a vacuum, totally ignoring the momentum of the preceding caucuses and primaries."

Actually, Tom's analysis is in pretty good agreement with the effects of primary momentum.

First of all, the Iowa caucuses are not nearly as significant as advertised. In the entire history of the Iowa caucuses since they first became the earliest step in the GOP nomination process, there have been five Presidential primaries without a Republican incumbent seeking reelection. Of these, the winner of the Iowa caucuses went on to lose the nomination three times (in 1980, 1988, and 2008), compared to two times when the Iowa caucuses picked the candidate who would become the final nominee (1996 and 2000). Even worse for the relevance of the Iowa caucuses, only once in their history as the first step in the Republican nomination process did the Iowa caucuses successfully pick a general election winner (2000).

To make a long story short, we can expect Huckabee's win in the Iowa caucuses to be quickly disregarded.

The next state in the nomination process is Wyoming, which hasn't been polled yet.

This is followed by New Hampshire. It's not likely that Huckabee would be able to overcome what PPP is showing as a 19-point deficit in the New Hampshire primary on the strength of his win in Iowa alone. So the projected Romney win in New Hampshire based on PPP's polling is likely to stand.

Next comes Michigan and Nevada, which are also projected as Romney wins based on PPP's polling of these states.

Clearly, the candidate with the momentum going into South Carolina would be Romney. With this momentum, and with Gingrich leading by only a point in South Carolina according to PPP, Romney could here deliver the "knockout punch" Tom mentioned, or he could come in second behind Gingrich in more literal accordance with PPP's poll.

PPP's polling shows Gingrich tied with Huckabee in the next state, Louisiana. If Gingrich loses South Carolina to Romney, he could get a second chance in Louisiana. If Gingrich wins in South Carolina, a win in Louisiana could give him a bit of momentum going into Florida. A win in South Carolina followed by a loss in Louisiana could create the perception that Gingrich is a one-trick pony. Losses in both South Carolina and Louisiana would effectively knock Gingrich out of the race.

Also, if Gingrich wins in Louisiana, Huckabee will be in serious trouble, as he'll have practically no momentum going into Florida and the Super Tuesday primaries. Conversely, he could salvage some much-needed credibility by winning Louisiana.

Either way, Huckabee would have to make a tough decision at this point: throw in the towel, or hold out and hope he gets his second wind on Super Tuesday.

Palin quite frankly will be dead in the water at this point. She may as well drop out before Super Tuesday if these projections hold.

Florida could be either interesting or a blowout, depending on the outcome of South Carolina and Louisiana. If Gingrich wins both South Carolina and Louisiana, effectively knocking Huckabee out of the race, Florida would shape up to be a contest between Romney and Gingrich, as Tom predicted. If Gingrich loses in South Carolina but wins in Louisiana, Huckabee will still be effectively beaten, but Gingrich will not be going into Florida with as much momentum. If Gingrich wins in South Carolina but Huckabee wins in Louisiana, both will still be in the race, but with little momentum; this dynamic would probably result in them splitting voters and produce a Romney win. Huckabee's popularity in Florida is low, so if Gingrich is effectively knocked out of the race by a Romney win in South Carolina and a Huckabee win in Louisiana, Romney would likely go on to win Florida.

In any case, Romney seems have the best chances going into Super Tuesday.

Anonymous said...

Did you poll any contests this weekend?

And Ppp's nh poll has been seconded by four other pollsters that also have mitt at a 15-30 point lead.

Anonymous said...

Ronslide !

Anonymous said...

The Interesting Times,
"Next comes Michigan and Nevada, which are also projected as Romney wins based on PPP's polling of these states."

Michigan isn't scheduled to be an early state again. They did a one time legislation that went back to their regular primary time after 2008 season.

Dustin Ingalls said...

"Did you poll any contests this weekend?"

We've been releasing numbers from WA and NC all week.

Anonymous said...

2012 GOP contests?

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