Iowa GOPers Leaning Mitt Romney's Way in Early Going
Around the State
With former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana and businessman Donald Trump opting out of the Republican presidential race, a new poll shows the important Iowa caucus -- which Huckabee won back in 2008 -- is entirely up for grabs.
Public Policy Polling (PPP), a firm with connections to prominent Democrats at the national level, released a poll Wednesday that finds former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, who plans to formally launch his bid Thursday, leads the pack with 21 percent. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is tied for second with fellow tea party favorite and businessman Herman Cain -- who is polling surprisingly well at this early stage in the race. Both have 15 percent.
Three other candidates also polled in double digits: former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia with 12 percent, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota with 11 percent and former Gov. Tim Pawlenty at 10 percent. U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas is seventh with 8 percent. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman comes in at less than one half of 1 percent.
“Romney has the nominal lead, but the fact that there are six people polling at double digits shows how wide open the race is in Iowa,” said Dean Debnam, president of PPP.
As Palin has not officially announced that she will run for the Republican nomination in 2012, when she is taken out of the equation Romney, who placed second in Iowa behind Huckabee in 2008, increases his lead. With Palin out, Romney takes 26 percent, followed by Cain at 16 percent, Gingrich with 15 percent and Bachmann taking 14 percent. Paul jumps up to fifth place with Palin out, taking 11 percent, leapfrogging Pawlenty who remains at 10 percent. Huntsman creeps up to 1 percent with Palin out of the mix.
In the last poll taken by PPP of Iowa Republicans, Huckabee took 27 percent with Romney in second with 16 percent, Trump in third with 14 percent and the rest of the pack in single digits.
The poll finds Iowa Republicans view most -- but not all -- of the current crop of potential and declared candidates favorably. Fifty-nine percent view Palin favorably while 31 percent view her unfavorably. More than half of those surveyed -- 51 percent -- see Romney in a favorable light, but more than a third -- 34 percent -- see him unfavorably. Bachmann scored 53 percent favorability and 16 percent unfavorable ratings. Forty-eight percent saw Pawlenty favorably and 18 percent saw him as unfavorable. Paul was seen by 42 percent as favorable and 29 percent as unfavorable. While Cain was seen as favorable by 38 percent, he was seen as unfavorable by 24 percent.
Gingrich was upside down with 41 percent seeing the former congressional leader unfavorably while 39 percent viewed him with favor. Trump did even worse, with 28 percent seeing him favorably and 56 percent unfavorably.
The rest of the pack remain mostly unknown. While 53 percent don't have much of an opinion of former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, 29 percent view him favorably and 18 percent unfavorably. Huntsman is even more unknown, with 70 percent not sure about him, 7 percent viewing him favorably and 23 percent seeing him unfavorably.
Former Gov. Buddy Roemer is also unknown -- with 75 percent of Iowa Republicans not knowing enough about him, 4 percent viewing him favorably and 21 percent seeing him unfavorably. Seventy-eight percent of those surveyed are not sure about former Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico, compared to 4 percent who see him favorably and 18 percent who view him unfavorably. Activist Fred Karger is the most unknown candidate, with 81 percent of those surveyed unsure about him while 2 percent see him favorably and 17 percent unfavorably.
Iowa Republicans generally have a favorable opinion of candidates who remain uncommitted about entering the race or have already said they will not run. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has insisted he will not run in 2012, is seen favorably by 51 percent and unfavorably by 20 percent. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has kept the door open to a second presidential run, garnered 49 percent favorability and 31 percent unfavorable ratings. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is considering running, is seen as favorable by 21 percent and unfavorable by 16 percent. U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who has expressed no interest in running, is seen by 42 percent as favorable and 14 percent as unfavorable. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, who has also said he will not run, has similar numbers to Ryan's -- 42 percent favorable and 12 percent unfavorable.
The poll of 481 Iowa Republican primary voters was taken between May 27-30. It has a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percent.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (850) 727-0859.