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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The On-Paper Tiger Has a Ways To Go

Polls three years in advance of a presidential contest aren’t worth a lot generally, but they do give you a sense of the sentiments of hard-core, high-attention “base” voters who have a disproportionate impact on the nominating process. The latest offering from Rasmussen on the possible Republican field shows Sarah Palin fading a bit (her new insta-book is probably coming out just in time), and Tim Pawlenty continuing to arouse mysteriously high levels of disdain.
The “who-do-you-favor-for-2012” poll has Mike Huckabee ahead at 29%, Mitt Romney at 24%, Palin at 18%, Newt Gingrich at 14%, and Pawlenty at 4%. More interestingly, the “who-do-you-least-favor” question puts TimPaw at 28%, Palin at 21%, Gingrich at 20%, Romney at 9%, and Huckabee at 8%. Usually little-known candidates don’t arouse much hostility, but in the current GOP atmosphere, it’s possible that a goodly number of conservative base voters don’t like any potential nominee who hasn’t spent sufficient time howling at the moon about socialism and the destruction of the Constitution. Indeed, it’s worth noting that one candidate who has distinguished himself in this respect, Mike Huckabee, seems to represent the center of the party right now, being most popular and least disliked.
The poll also asks GOPers how likely they think a win over the President is in 2012. 50% say victory is “very likely,” and another 31% “somewhat likely.” That could change, but primary voters who are very confident about a win tend to favor the most ideologically pure candidate available. This would not be Tim Pawlenty, who continues to be a fine candidate only on paper.

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