Tuesday, February 1, 2011

DeMint up in SC, Huckabee otherwise

Jim DeMint would lead in the Republican primary for President in South Carolina if he decided to run, although GOP voters in the state seem a little bit ambivalent about a potential candidacy despite his popularity. If DeMint doesn't run Mike Huckabee is the favorite, continuing the momentum he's shown in PPP polling across the country so far in 2011.

DeMint is certainly well liked with the Republican base in his home state, sporting a 77/12 approval breakdown. But they're closely divided on whether he should go for the White House or not, with 40% of GOP voters expressing support for such a move but 37% opposed and 23% not offering an opinion. Because of that tepidness toward him running for President he just narrowly leads the primary in the state. 24% of voters say DeMint would be their top choice, followed by 20% for Huckabee, 17% for Mitt Romney, 12% for Sarah Palin, 10% for Newt Gingrich, 4% for Ron Paul, 3% for Tim Pawlenty, and 2% for Mitch Daniels. DeMint wouldn't be able to count on a blowout victory on the home front.

If you take DeMint out of the equation Huckabee is the biggest beneficiary. He would lead the state with 26% to 20% for Romney, 18% for Palin, 13% for Gingrich, 7% for Paul, 4% for Pawlenty, and 3% for Daniels.

If you're going to declare winners and losers in this poll the winners are Huckabee and Romney and the losers are Palin and Gingrich. Not winning South Carolina in 2008 punctured Huckabee's chances at winning the nomination but it looks like he'd be able to change that outcome if he gave it a second try. Romney has been polling fourth in a lot of other Southern states so for him to be within striking distance of Huckabee and beating Palin and Gingrich with this particularly conservative primary electorate are very good signs.

The results are probably worst for Gingrich. He led the first time we polled South Carolina last May, but has lost half of his support since then. Given South Carolina's next door status to his native Georgia this is easily the early primary state where he would have the most decent chance of winning but he looks to be losing momentum. For Palin a third place finish behind the relatively moderate Romney in a state with a very conservative Republican primary electorate does not bode well for her overall prospects.

The Republican Party has seen considerable division over the last year about whether the party should be more conservative or if its current ideological bent is acceptable. The key to Huckabee's success is that he's the leader with voters who fall into both of those camps. He leads Palin and Romney 30-19 with voters who think the party is 'about right' ideologically and he's up 24-18 on Gingrich with voters who think that it's gotten too liberal.

Romney's way up with a different group- Republicans who think the party's become too conservative. He leads Palin 29-15 with them. The problem for him is those folks only represent 10% of the Republican electorate there. That kind of encapsulates the challenge for his 2012 bid- his appeal is to a segment of the party's voters that is becoming smaller and smaller. Another potential issue for him- 39% of Republicans in the state have an unfavorable opinion of Mormonism to 23% who look on it favorably and 38% who are ambivalent.

It's been a good year for Huckabee in our polling so far and taking South Carolina would be huge for his chances of winning the nomination- of course we still have to wait and see if he's even going for it or not.

Full results here


The Interesting Times said...

Solid analysis. It looks as if Gingrich's primary prospects have collapsed.

Anonymous said...

"very conservative Republican primary electorate"

In what way? Your sample is 33% moderate/liberal. That would mean the state's primary electorate is a decent amount more moderate/liberal on average than the national average.

Jonny V said...

This is unfortunate.

While I think Huckabee and Romney are still very flawed candidates - they aren't as obviously so as Palin and Gingrich.

I was really hoping Obama would get to tee off against Palin. ... still am hoping. But it seems to be looking more and more like a long-shot.

Palin is just too ridiculous, even for Republican primary voters.

I still think it would be a very good thing for the Democrats for her to *try* to win the nomination. Because her failure at doing so may end up angering a lot of her supporters. I saw a poll recently where it said 47% of Palin supporters would go 3rd party if she didn't win the nomination.

I don't really believe that... but hopefully a decent portion of them would.

The Interesting Times said...

Here's my updated analysis based on my rough delegate counts:

Romney and Huckabee are essentially tied for the lead now. Romney gets 634 delegates, while Huckabee gets 633. This is assuming Romney wins both Michigan and New Jersey, both states in which Romney has shown an advantage in the past. If Huckabee won either of those states, he would be leading Romney by about 100 delegates; if he managed to win both, he would be the clear frontrunner by about 200.

South Carolina gives Huckabee a much-needed post-Iowa win, giving him the chance to blunt Romney's momentum going into Super Tuesday. Additionally, a South Carolina win could potentially propel Huckabee to a win in Louisiana (currently Gingrich territory) as well. I doubt that Huckabee would be able to build enough momentum to capture Florida, but even without it he would be in fairly good shape going into Super Tuesday.

A second-place showing in South Carolina could benefit Romney, helping him to make the case that he's not a total lost cause in the South. South Carolina is a winner-take-all state, though, so second place is still more or less the first among losers here.

Again, Romney and Huckabee are essentially tied at this point. Both have the same projected delegate count so far, and both go into Super Tuesday with some momentum.

Palin is on the second tier of candidates with 233 delegates. Moreover, she fails to win any of the early states. In these circumstances, she has little chance of winning the primary, but she could potentially be a spoiler, to Romney's benefit.

Gingrich, Pawlenty, and Paul constitute a third tier of candidates, with 59, 54, and 21 delegates, respectively. These candidates essentially have no chance, though one could conceivably be picked for the Vice Presidential slot by one of the frontrunners.

Several months ago, when Gingrich was posting leads in large states like California and Texas, I would have advised Gingrich to run. I would not give the same advice today.

Finally we come to the fourth tier: Daniels and Thune with a mere 5 and 3 delegates, respectively. I think their numbers speak for themselves.

BOSMAN said...

Thanks PPP for including DeMint!


Just what I expected. If Romney's buddy enters SC as a favorite son, Huckabee doesn't win.

Stranger things have happened

Romney / DeMint in 2012!
Count on it!

Anonymous said...

@Interesting Times:

A slight variation seems to make more sense to me:

1. Huckabee, Romney
2. Gingrich, Barbour, Palin
3. Daniels, Pawlenty, Huntsman
4. Paul, Thune

Dustin Ingalls said...

"I saw a poll recently where it said 47% of Palin supporters would go 3rd party if she didn't win the nomination."

Over half of her supporters have no second choice, way more than for any of the others, so this could be a problem. But more of her supporters (32% for Huckabee) favor a single candidate as their second choice than the supporters of any of the others. So basically, it's Palin or bust...or maybe Huckabee, if we have to hold our nose.

"I doubt that Huckabee would be able to build enough momentum to capture Florida"

Why? When last we polled there in December, he was winning with 23% over Romney's 21% and Gingrich's 18%, but while that's a statistical tie, I'm sure he's improved since then. Plus, he lives there now.

"A second-place showing in South Carolina could benefit Romney, helping him to make the case that he's not a total lost cause in the South."

Yeah, Romney is a pretty strong second in both IA and SC, so he can blunt some of Huckabee's momentum by spinning his finishes as near-wins after wins in NH (and NV if it's happened yet).

Anonymous said...

Is there any way that PPP could make it easier to find polls? Such as, an area for 2012 GOP national races, an area for national 2012 head to head vs Obama races, an area for 2012 individual states in head to head vs Obama, and an area for the individual states in the GOP 2012 races. That would make it easier for us political junkies.

Thank you for doing all the various polling!

Dustin Ingalls said...

"Is there any way that PPP could make it easier to find polls?"

We've got a revamped website coming soon. The blog will be integrated into it, rather than separate on Blogspot, and the polls will be searchable instead of locked into PDFs, so that might make it easier to find the data you're looking for. We're open to suggetions on how to better tag or organize polls by interest.

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