Romney, Palin Lead GOP Race, Pawlenty Third, Gingrich Fades

Politics   Steven Ertelt   Jun 2, 2011   |   4:40PM    Washington, DC

A new national poll of Republicans and the potential Republican field for the primary election race to take on pro-abortion President Barack Obama has two familiar names leading the way.

The new PPP survey released today, looking at the Republican field since Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump announced they wouldn’t run, shows Mitt Romney leading among Republicans with the support of 16 percent apiece. The two are likely the most familiar names in the race with Romney having run before and declaring his 2012 candidacy today and Palin the vice-presidential candidate and former Alaska governor.

Two newer candidates who were not involved in the 2008 campaign have boosted themselves to third and fourth places, respectively. Former Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, who is a pro-life advocate, jumped up to third place in the poll by garnering the support of 13 percent of Republicans nationwide. Behind him at 12 percent is Herman Cain, the pro-life businessman and former Senate candidate in Georgia.

“Pawlenty’s post-announcement PR tour has given him a huge boost, the first time he has been out of the low to mid-single digits in a PPP national poll. Cain, who, like Huntsman, was included for the first time in this poll, has benefited greatly from his performance in the first debate a few weeks ago,” the firm noted.

The PPP survey has Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, former Speaker Newt Gingrich, and Rep. Ron Paul each at 9%, while Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor, gets 4 percent to round out the field. The poll did not include former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer, or former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson.

The new poll finds “Romney’s support is built on moderate and center right Republicans, while Palin’s winning the most conservative faction of the party,” pollster Tom Jensen says. On the other hand, Palin and Pawlenty fare better with more conservative Republican voters.

“With moderates, Romney’s at 26% with only Pawlenty at 15% also reaching double digits and Palin in third at 8%,” Jensen explained. “With ‘somewhat conservative’ voters Romney likewise leads with 19% to 15% each for Pawlenty and Palin. But with voters identifying as ‘very conservative’ Romney finds himself well back in 5th place at 11% with Palin leading the way at 20%, followed by Cain at 15%, Bachmann at 13%, and Pawlenty at 12%.”

Should Palin decide against making a bid for the Republican presidential nomination, Romney leads with 20% to 13% each for Gingrich, Bachmann, and Pawlenty, 12% for Cain, and 11% for Paul.

“It may seem surprising that Palin not running would take Romney from a tie to a 7 point lead. But that’s because most of Palin’s support goes to people who poll at only single digits when she’s in the picture,” Jensen explained. Some 22% of Palin voters say they would go for Bachmann, 17% to Gingrich, and 15% each to Romney and Paul. Cain and Pawlenty, already in double digits even with Palin in the field, each pick up only 2% of her supporters so Romney gains ground on them with her out of the picture.

Jensen says the poll provides more evidence of the fading of the Gingrich campaign.

“In addition to having just single digit support more primary voters (44%) now express an unfavorable opinion of him than have a positive one (39%),” he said. “Gingrich,
meanwhile, has seen a decline after the disaster that was his first week as an official candidate.”

Just two weeks ago, with Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump still potentially in the race, Huckabee led Romney, 19-18, with Gingrich at 13%, Palin at 12%, Trump and Paul at 8%, Bachmann at 7%, and Pawlenty at 5%.