The latest polling of the potential 2012 Republican presidential race finds the PPP polling firm surveying voters in six states and Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, and Tim Pawlenty hold leads in at least one.
The polls were conducted just before the 2010 midterm Congressional elections and they find Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who ran in 2008 for the Republican nod, ahead in the critical early state of Florida. Pawlenty leads in his home state of Minnesota while Palin holds leads in Texas, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Maine.
Florida is the most important state of the bunch, since its primary election follows the big three states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
Romney’s ahead with 28% to 22% for Palin, the pro-life former vice-presidential running mate, and 15% for pro-life former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and pro-life former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
“It should be noted that although Romney does have the lead, it’s a much less lofty one than what he posted in a March PPP poll of the state when he had 44%,” the polling firm noted.
The polling firm appears to believe Romney’s strong showing in some states is based on his name identification and that he doesn’t have a strong base of support.
“The only other candidates included in that poll were Palin and Huckabee and we’re finding more and more as we do these polls that when new folks are added into the mix it tends to hurt Romney more than anyone else,” it said. “His support is less solid than Palin’s and Huckabee’s so even though he looks like a very nominal front runner at this point, he’s also the candidate most likely to see his support collapse as things heat up.”
Pawlenty leads the field in his home state of Minnesota, where pro-life advocates have applauded him for building a solid record. He gets 19% with Palin trailing slightly at 18 percent with Huckabee at 14%, and Gingrich and Romney each getting 11%.
PPP believes Pawlenty could emerge as the next in line for Romney’s support should the former presidential candidate falter.
“It is no coincidence that Romney is in the basement in this state- we’ve found several places now that where Pawlenty is unusually strong the victim seems to be Romney,” it said.
Palin holds small leads in the remaining states and, in Texas, she gets 22% to 20% for Huckabee and 15% for both Gingrich and Romney. In West Virginia she’s at 25% to 22% for Huckabee and again 15% for both Gingrich and Romney.
Here, PPP suggests Palin could hurt Huckabee by taking his support with the conservative Christian base of the Republican Party.
“These margins are obviously very close but they nevertheless pose trouble for Huckabee and perhaps even more so Gingrich if she ends up making a bid because strength in the South would be vital to either of their prospects,” it says.
In Maine, Palin gets 23% in Maine to 18% for Romney, 16% for Huckabee, and 14% for Gingrich. And Palin gets 18% in Wisconsin to 15% for Huckabee, 14% for Gingrich, and 12% for Romney. Pawlenty, who is not as well known as the others, does his second best in Wisconsin, where he gets 8 percent support.
Of the 12 states in which PPP has done polling of Republicans for the 2012 election, Romney has led in 5 (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, New Hampshire), Palin in 4 (Maine, Texas, West Virginia, Wisconsin), Huckabee in 2 (Illinois, Pennsylvania), and Pawlenty in 1 (Minnesota.) Polls from Alaska, Kentucky, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Washington will come out early next week.