PPP Poll Shows Close GOP Primary Battles in 2012
Around the State
A poll from Public Policy Polling (PPP), a firm with connections to national Democrats, shows that Florida Republicans can expect close primary battles in the presidential race as well as the contest to take on Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.
The poll found former Gov. Jeb Bush remained beloved by Florida Republicans -- with 83 percent approval compared to only 11 percent disapproval and swamping the primary field to take Nelson on in 2012. Bush took a whopping 72 percent if he ran in the U.S. Senate primary -- compared to 6 percent for outgoing Attorney General Bill McCollum; 3 percent apiece for U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, incoming Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, outgoing U.S. Sen. George LeMieux and U.S. Rep. Connie Mack; 1 percent for Senate President Mike Haridopolos, and former House Majority Leader Adam Hasner won the backing of less than one half of 1 percent.
But with Bush widely expected not to run in 2012, the primary picture becomes muddled. When Bush was taken out of the equation, 31 percent of Florida Republicans remained unsure of whom to back. Mack led with 15 percent with McCollum -- who ran twice before for the U.S. Senate and lost the gubernatorial primary in August -- right behind him at 14 percent. Other candidates were also in the mix as LeMieux placed third with 11 percent, Carroll took fourth with 10 percent, Haridopolos came in fifth with 9 percent and Buchanan stood at 7 percent. Hasner again trailed the field with 3 percent.
Other candidates who could run include U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, and businessman and retired Army officer Mike McCalister.
The poll also showed that Florida Republicans are divided on who they want to take on President Barack Obama in 2012 -- with the top three candidates close to the margin of error.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who placed fourth back in the 2008 presidential primary and moved to Florida earlier in the year, topped the poll with 23 percent. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who placed second in 2008 behind Arizona U.S. Sen. John McCain, was in second with 21 percent. Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich came in third with 18 percent, while former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin placed fourth with 13 percent. U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who took 3 percent in the 2008 primary, took 8 percent. Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota stood at 4 percent, Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana won the backing of 2 percent and U.S. Sen. John Thune of South Dakota took 1 percent. The poll found 10 percent of Florida Republicans remained undecided.
While Florida Republicans did not give them the high marks they gave Bush, they still approved of the top four candidates. Huckabee got the highest marks -- 67 percent of those surveyed saw him as favorable and 20 percent as unfavorable. Romney was seen as favorable by 61 percent and unfavorable by 22 percent. While Palin had the same favorability number as Romney at 61 percent, she had the highest unfavorable rating of the top candidates -- 32 percent. Gingrich had the lowest favorability number at 59 percent, while 24 percent saw him as unfavorable.
Other Republicans who may run for the nomination include Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, former Gov. George Pataki of New York, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, businessman Herman Cain and political activist Fred Karger.
The poll of 400 Republican primary voters was conducted between Dec. 17-20 and had a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percent.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (850) 727-0859.