Tuesday, September 8, 2009

It's Never too Early for a 2012 (Value Voters) Straw Poll

Next week's Value Voters Summit is certainly not short on speakers doubling as potential hopefuls for the 2012 GOP nomination. And since many are going to be there speaking anyway, why not poll those in attendance to gauge the amount of support behind each candidate among this valuable group of Republican primary voters?

Why not, indeed? Why should Iowa and New Hampshire have all the fun?

Here's the ballot:
Newt Gingrich
Mike Huckabee*
Bobby Jindal
Sarah Palin
Ron Paul
Tim Pawlenty*
Mike Pence*
Rick Perry*
Mitt Romney*
Rick Santorum

*also scheduled to speak

That's a deep pool. But what? No Crist, no Barbour, no Thune?

Normally, I'd add the usual caveats that I include in any 2012 polling post. But in this case, I find this straw poll to be a fairly significant early indicator of how the 2012 field is going to shape up.
"The 2012 presidential primaries may be several years away but many value voters are already surveying the field of possible candidates," said Family Research Council Action President Tony Perkins. "This straw poll is an early test for possible presidential contenders who have shown leadership on the major issues facing our country."
It's no mistake that Mitt Romney will be speaking; this is a group he is absolutely going to have to convince of his conservative bona fides in some respects in order to gain their vote in just more than three years time. He is playing the current period correctly by staking out a firm, fiscally conservative line, but this is a group he will need if he is to be the frontrunner heading into the 2012 primaries. Things looked good on paper for Romney in 2008 as well, but it didn't work out.

One additional note we should make is that there are a few folks on the ballot that have been discussed in the context of splitting this segment of the Republican primary voting bloc in an early state like Iowa; making a Romney victory there more likely. It will be interesting also to see if the Sarah Palins and Mike Huckabees and Rick Santorums of the list split a sizable chunk of the vote in any noticeable way.


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7 comments:

Robert said...

Mike Pence? That is the first time I remember hearing his name as a possible 2012 candidate. Don't be surprised if Newt does better than expected with this group. Dr. James Dobson, who gave the invocation at the race Sunday night, is high on Newt.

Josh Putnam said...

I guess you weren't officially back to participating at the time, but Pence did make it to the Final Four in NPR's March Madness bracket in March/April. Not that that really means anything significant.

Gingrich is a 'tweener at this event. He isn't a Mitt Romney that has to woo the social conservatives and he isn't necessarily a Huckabee/Palin/Santorum type on the other end of the spectrum. That said, it isn't out of the realm of possibility that the former Speaker does well in this straw poll. A "happy medium" candidate?

Robert said...

Newt is a "family values" candidate!

Josh Putnam said...

Rob,
I don't disagree with you, but if we're looking at this as an assessment of the ideological distance between the straw poll voters there and the candidates, then relative to the three I listed, Gingrich is a 'tweener. Relative to Obama, yes, he is a family values candidate.

By the way, thanks for starting the chat on Gingrich. Those comments may be lost where they are so I'll likely kick that into its own post and attempt to elicit some response from our other readers.

MysteryPolitico said...

Pence has visited Iowa, so that prompted some 2012 chatter:

http://iowaindependent.com/tag/mike-pence

Robert said...

I went back to the NPR March Madness. It appears to have been hijacked by the typical NPR crowd -- Ron Paul fanatics! Having said that Mike Pence is now on my radar screen. I still think that Eric Cantor has a bigger footprint than Pence.

Also, I thought James Dobson was Dr. Family Values and that Newt Gingrich was James Dobson's candidate. I think to those whose family values are located primarily in their back pocket or handbag, Gingrich is their man. That seems to be more than a 'tweener or happy medium to me. Pardon my cynicism.

Josh Putnam said...

Here's that link from Mystery Politico. I guess I left it unsaid, but I suppose my link to the NPR bracket implied that that was where all the Pence in 2012 talk began. That wasn't my intention because Mike Pence's name had been out there before then. Thanks again for that link.

Side note: I just went and checked and was surprised to discover that GOP12 doesn't have a profile up for Pence, but Christian does have one for Cantor, Rob.

Nah, I don't see that as cynical, Rob. Despite the fact that I'm calling him a 'tweener, I don't think that the socially conservative right voting for Gingrich would be equivalent to them "settling for" him as a candidate. That's why I used the phrase happy medium the other day. He's a palatable candidate to that faction of the party, but may not be as close to them on the ideological spectrum as some of the others I mentioned. He wouldn't for instance be a McCain-type, where the Family Values folks would have to hold their noses in some respects to vote for him.

I definitely think there is some latent support for Gingrich out there that has not manifest itself yet. If that is activated, then your prediction is a distinct possibility.