A new poll in Iowa following the departures of Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump as potential Republican presidential candidates shows former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leading in Iowa among Republican voters.
The Public Policy Polling institute survey has businessman Herman Cain and former governor Sarah Palin tied for second at 15 percent, with Romney leading the race at 21 percent when Republican and independents who lean Republican are measured.
“Cain and Palin have been the biggest beneficiaries in Iowa of Huckabee and Trump’s decisions not to run,” PPP pollster Tom Jensen said. “Cain is at 15% now despite not even having been included on our last poll. Palin’s gained 7 points in the six weeks since our last poll compared to 5 point gains for Romney, Pawlenty, and Bachmann, a 3 point gain for Gingrich, and a 2 point bump for Paul.”
Should Palin not run, the breakdown comes in at Romney 26%, Cain 16%, Gingrich 15%, Bachmann 14%, Paul 11% and Pawlenty 10%.
The poll finds Romney does better with moderate and center-right Republicans than with conservatives.
“Romney’s leading in Iowa based on his strength with centrist and center right Republican voters,” Jensen said. “With moderates he’s at 34% to 16% for Palin, 13% for Paul, and 11% for Gingrich. With ‘somewhat conservative’ voters he’s at 24% to 15% for Pawlenty, 13% for Palin, and 12% for Gingrich and Cain. His strength with those two groups outweighs his continuing weakness with the furthest right group of voters in the state, which constitute the largest segment of the Republican electorate at 41%. With those ‘very conservative’ folks Romney can muster only a fourth place finish at 13%. Cain and Palin tie for the lead with that group of voters at 19% followed by Bachmann at 15%.”
Jenson says the polling result “says to me is that many Republicans are looking for someone more conservative than Romney but someone who isn’t bound to get creamed in the general election the way Palin, Bachmann, and Cain probably would. That’s very good news for Pawlenty if it ever plays itself out in real life.”
The PPP survey found Rep. Michele Bachmann has the most positive rating among Republicans with a net +37 percent positive. Pawlenty is second with a net +30, followed by Palin at +28, Romney at +17, Cain at +14, Paul at +13, Rick Santorum at +11, Gingrich at -2, and Huntsman at -16.
“No one is really becoming more popular with Iowa Republicans as they become better known except Herman Cain. His net favorability is up 8 points, no one else’s is up more than a point,” Jensen says. “Bachmann, Pawlenty, and Palin have all basically stayed in place for the last six weeks and that’s good news for them given that Paul’s down by 25 points, Gingrich is down by 23, and Huntsman and Romney are both down by 13. At least they’re not headed in the wrong direction like a lot of their counterparts.”
PPP surveyed 481 usual Iowa Republican primary voters from May 27th to 30th. The margin of error for the survey is +/-4.5%.