Posted by Brad @ 10:48 am on August 23rd 2011

Let the Iowa Poll-Watching Begin!

Now that the GOP field is more or less set, and most of the candidates have at least some state presences in the states where they’re likely to compete, polling is actually going to be sort-of worth watching – still so provisional as to not be predicative, but now not so provisional as to be completely useless. Plus, the pollsters have been polling generally the same slate of candidates for the last few rounds, meaning we can now start getting a sense of momentum.

To wit, Weigel flags the newest PPP poll (PDF). Here is their read of Iowa (without Sarah Palin):

Rick Perry – 22% (+22)
Mitt Romney – 19% (-2)
Michelle Bachmann – 18% (+7)
Ron Paul – 16% (+8)
Herman Cain – 7% (-8)
New Gingrich – 5% (-7)
Rick Santorum – 5% (+5)
Jon Hunstman – 3% (+3)

And here it is if Sarah Palin were to run:

Rick Perry – 21% (+21)
Mitt Romney – 18% (-3)
Michele Bachmann – 15% (+4)
Ron Paul – 12% (+4)
Sarah Palin – 10% (-5)
Newt Gingrich – 7% (-5)
Herman Cain – 6% (-9)
Rick Santorum – 5% (+5)
John Huntsman – 3% (+3)

Please note: Ron Paul is polling ahead of Sarah Palin in Iowa. I’m guessing you won’t hear that data point much.

In any case, don’t put too much stock in Perry’s numbers – although it’s clear he’ll be competitive, I wouldn’t hand him frontrunner status just yes. The Perry boomlet will maybe bring him back into the teens somewhere – although maybe not.

The Big Mo’, however, clearly belongs to Michelle Bachmann and Ron Paul. The media didn’t take much notice of Paul at the Straw Poll, but Iowans clearly did. If one were an alien astronomer – well, pundit, I guess – examining these numbers, one would say that there was very clearly four members of the first tier all battling it out, and a huge dropoff after that. Being a human pundit, I think it would still be fair to say that the frontrunners are Perry/Romney/Bachmann, but at this point Paul is very clearly the only second tier candidate of note, and even if nobody wants to put him in the conversation as a possible winner, at the very least it has to be noted that, in a close race between three about equal candidates, the fact that Paul is sitting on a fifth of Iowa voters makes him matter. A lot.

And hell, it has to be noted especially if you’re one of those three frontrunners. If you’re looking to try to peel off softly aligned voters – which you are, because very like this race is going to come down to 2, 3% separating the first three finishers – are you going to make an appeal to, say, Rick Santorum’s 5%? Or the 16% currently represented by Ron Paul? In a rational world, it’s not even close. Be interesting to see if Bachmann/Romney/Perry’s advisers choose to play to rationality, or choose to play to conventional wisdom and pretend that those 16% don’t exist and that it would be lunacy to lean Paulward.

1 Comment »

  1. Also worth noting that Paul polls only two points behind Barack Obama in national head-to-heads, making him the third most electable Republican (by the numbers), behind only Perry and Romney.

    Comment by Brad — 8/24/2011 @ 8:32 am

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