A new Gallup poll has found that Mike Huckabee continues to lead the potential Republican field ahead of 2012, and Sarah Palin continuing to lose support. Huckabee was supported by 19% of Republicans and Republican leaning Independents surveyed. Mitt Romney was second at 15% and Sarah Palin third at 12%, but should Huckabee decide not to run, Palin vaults into a tie with Romney for first.
The Gallup poll found that Mike Huckabee is the only candidate that is gaining support with Republican primary voters. Huckabee has seen his support rise from 12% in September to 19% today. Mitt Romney has seen his support decline from 19% to 15%, and Sarah Palin has seen her support drop from 16% to 12%. (Palin’s support has never been above 16% since last September). Newt Gingrich is still polling at 10%, and all the other potential Republican candidates are bunched up in the single digits.
Things got interesting when the Republicans were asked who they support if Huckabee did not run. Support for Sarah Palin jumps if Mike Huckabee passes on 2012. In the non-Huckabee poll Romney leads Palin 19%-17%. Newt Gingrich gains three points to 13%, and Ron Paul gains two points to 8%. Without Huckabee, Palin gains more support than any other candidate. She gains 5%, Romney gains 4%, and Gingrich gains 3%. Huckabee and Romney aren’t often thought to be in competition for the same group of Republican primary voters, but this poll indicates that there is some overlap in their support.
Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee are battling for the same social conservative/evangelical Republican turf, and it is Huckabee who is keeping Palin from pushing Romney for the lead heading into 2012. Mitt Romney’s clearest path to the GOP nomination looks to occur if Palin and Huckabee split the social conservative vote, and he keeps his fiscal conservatives together.
Picture a primary where Palin and Huckabee are involved in a rhetorical holy war for the souls of evangelical voters while Romney keeps chugging along below the radar, and inching his way towards securing the nomination one delegate at a time.
The only thing standing between Sarah Palin and leadership of the GOP 2012 field is Mike Huckabee. Without Huckabee, the GOP race is a virtual tie between Palin and Romney, and Palin would waste no time trying to take Romney down because he is the Mormon founding father of “Obamacare.” Palin would be in a great position to win a two person race against Mitt Romney. She could play up her god and guns shtick against Romney’s moderate record, and exploit lingering conservative doubts about his right wing bona fides.
Everything would be set up perfectly for Palin if it wasn’t for the Huckabee.
If Huckabee decides not to run, you can almost take it to the bank that he will be in the race, but should he prove himself to be one of those rare politicians who after looking at the polls would turn down a chance to be his party’s standard bearer, the Republican leadership will come face to face with their Palin problem. Everyone knows that Palin and her 30% national approval rating would be a disaster in match up with Obama, but without Mike Huckabee in the race, the question is can Palin be stopped?
Palin’s approval ratings nationally are on par with George W. Bush and Richard Nixon. The fact that she has a legitimate chance, and would even be a leader in the 2012 speaks volumes about the historic level of weakness in the Republican field. Over the last 6 month Palin’s approval rating has continued to erode. Her support among her fellow Republicans has dropped from 74% to 52% but all it would take to make Sarah Palin a potential nominee is for Mike Huckabee to decide to sit this one out.
In 2011 political terms what Huckabee is pulling is Koch Block. Although Huckabee is not a Koch candidate, the strategic move is the same. Huckabee is cutting Palin off at the knees with the grass roots. Palin is running a national media campaign, while Huckabee is organizing locally.
Think of this as the AstroTurf champion, Sarah Palin getting teabagged by Mike Huckabee. (Don’t picture it! I warned you not to picture it. Sigh, now go wash your mind out with bleach).
Nobody likes a Koch blocker, but Mike Huckabee looks like the GOP’s only line of defense against the total destruction that would be wrought on their party by the nomination of Sarah Heath (Lou Sarah) Palin in 2012.
Image: The Tolbert Report