Monday, August 17, 2009

Which Republican is the Biggest Threat in 2012?

This wasn't the question that Greenberg Quinlan and Rosner posed to the participants at Netroots Nation, but if you reverse the ordering of the results, you'd get a rough idea of who liberals and progressives find are the biggest threats to Barack Obama's re-election bid in 2012. First, though, let's look at the question and the results [pdf]:

Q.16 Of the main contenders for the 2012 Republican nomination for President, please indicate
who, in your opinion, would be the easiest to beat.
Total

Sarah Palin.......................................................................... 36
Rick Santorum..................................................................... 20
Bobby Jindal........................................................................ 12
Ron Paul .............................................................................. 7
Rudy Giuliani........................................................................ 5
Jeb Bush.............................................................................. 4
Jon Kyl ................................................................................. 3
Mike Huckabee.................................................................... 2
Tim Pawlenty........................................................................ 1
Mitt Romney......................................................................... 1
(No Answer) ........................................................................ 9

Margin of error: n/a
Sample: 252 conference participants
Conducted: August 13-14, 2009

252 respondents is hardly representative of Democrats as a whole (much less the Republicans who will largely decide who their 2012 nominee will be), but I would wager a guess that this result is a pretty good representation of those attending Netroots. Regardless, Palin is perceived to be the easiest for Obama to beat in 2012 (over a third of the respondents) with Romney and Pawlenty bringing up the rear with only one percent each. Again, this isn't necessarily the same question, but if we flip those results, we would likely have at least a close approximation of the Republican whom those at NN see as the best challenger to the president three years hence.

Other than telling me that some Republicans out there are now ready to write checks to Romney and Pawlenty, this list makes me think of the Democrats vying for the party's nomination in 2004. I've tried to link the prospective 2012 Republican presidential field to the Democratic field in 2008, but the the better comparison may be 2004, especially in lieu of the fact that the GOP will be in the same position the Democrats were in in 2004: out of the White House and out of power on the Hill. Who were the 2004 principals and who are their 2012 counterparts?

John Kerry: Mitt Romney (early frontrunner who may or may not stumble along the way to the nomination)

John Edwards: Tim Pawlenty (up-and-comer making a populist appeal)

Dick Gephardt: Mike Huckabee (solid, if uninspiring choice, but at the wrong place at the wrong time)

Howard Dean: Sarah Palin (heart-on-the-sleeve type who effectively uses technology to make their appeals to an enthusiastic base within the party)

Will it play out that way? Perhaps, though not in anything resembling the same order. Palin, for instance, may or may not have already had her Dean Scream moment. One thing I will say is that a Romney/Pawlenty ticket wouldn't be a bad choice for the Party of Lincoln.

Back to the poll: No Thune. No Barbour. And most glaringly, no Gingrich. Is that because none of those three would be "easy" to beat or because not one of the 252 respondents thought of them as potential 2012 candidates? I'd lean toward the latter, but I don't consider that margin to be very wide between those two camps. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I find I'm reconsidering that answer.

Hat tip to GOP12 for the link.


Recent Posts:
2012 New Hampshire Republican Primary Poll: Romney Up Big

Rick Santorum for President? ...and Romney in Iowa

Democratic Change Commission Set to Reconvene in St. Louis on August 29

9 comments:

Chris Of Rights said...

And in August of 2005, if you'd asked the same question of Republicans, they would've said Barack Obama...by a landslide.

Never trust partisans when it comes to such a "who's the easiest to beat" poll. It comes down to "who do we dislike the most" poll, or "who would we never vote for in a million years" poll.

All this shows is that the Nutroots really don't like Palin. That's the only conclusion you can draw from it.

Jack said...

I agree with Chris's implication that Palin wouldn't be the weakest of these candidates. Santorum and Paul would be weaker candidates than Palin, and with her ability to motivate the base she might be able to catch up with some of the others.

Josh Putnam said...

I definitely don't disagree. The reason I hedged a bit and left it at "it is 'the Republicans who will largely decide who there nominee in 2012 is,' and not the Democrats" is simply because I didn't have any data to back me up one way or the other on what Republicans thought of the Democrats in 2001 or 2005.

And no, it doesn't matter.

Chris,
I will take issue with how you interpret the "Who's the easiest to beat?" question. If what that would have meant to Republican respondents in 2005 was "Who do you dislike the most?" or "Who would you never vote for in a million years?" the answer would have been Hillary Clinton. Obama was a name at that point, but he wasn't being taken seriously as a presidential candidate.

That aside, though, I think you're spot on. It isn't a good question and it won't ever elicit an answer that is worthy of spending any great amount of time analyzing. To me, it is always fun to see what "the other side" thinks, though.

The Left thinks that Palin represents a lurch to the right and that that would translate into an inability to pick up any independents. From a numbers standpoint, if that were to play out, then, yeah, she might not do well. Ron Paul's share is so small simply because there is such a slim chance that he would clear the nomination hurdle to even face off with Obama in a general election. I'm surprised so many named him.

And that makes Santorum's appearance all the more interesting. Yes, he's a recent addition to the prospective candidate list, and yes, he could stir things up in the primaries in a noticeable way, but I still don't see where he could win the nomination. That one fifth of the respondents in this poll took him that far was surprising to me.

After all, these names were volunteered as far as I can tell and not listed as choices for respondents.

AKReport said...

the left is foolish to underestimate palin. she has that star power that drives the media, and she has a very strong following much like obama has.

Josh Putnam said...

Now come on, AKR. It wouldn't be the first time that the left has been foolish.

AKReport said...

new poll.

http://maristpoll.marist.edu/818-2012-prospects-palin-a-force-in-gop-but-not-within-general-electorate/


21% Romney
20% Palin
19% Huckabee
10% Gingrich
5% Jindal
1% Pawlenty

24% of Republicans including leaners are unsure.

Josh Putnam said...

Here's that link from AKReport.

See, this is why new faculty orientations are bad (said the new faculty member who won't be getting a paycheck if he writes that any more).

I'll have a closer look at this and have something up regarding it later today. I'll also have a LONG overdue update of the state of play in New Jersey tonight. And it will probably be tomorrow before I get the Virginia update up.

Robert said...

I agree with AK report that you should be careful about underestimating Palin. I think she has as little chance as Ronald Reagan had at this time in 1977. I also think you should be careful about overestimating Romney. I agree with Josh that he is comparable to Kerry. I would also add his other recent MA candidate, Dukakis.

Josh Putnam said...

I totally agree. Romney looked good on paper in 2008 as well. We all know how that turned out.

It is not unlike something Mike Myers said on SNL about the Scottish soccer team while playing a Scottish Soccer Hooligan: "Scotland's soccer team: Great on paper; crap on grass."

Romney's great on paper, but he still has something to prove to the broader conservative audience and American as a whole.