The Republican presidential field has changed rapidly since PPP last polled Iowa Republicans in mid-April. Then, Mike Huckabee led with 27% to Romney’s 16%, Donald Trump’s 14%, Newt Gingrich’s 9%, Sarah Palin’s 8%, Michele Bachmann’s and Ron Paul’s 6%, and Tim Pawlenty’s 5%. Now, with Huckabee and Trump out, and Herman Cain and Jon Huntsman in, the race is much tighter. Romney tops with 21% over Palin’s and Cain’s 15%, Gingrich’s 12%, Bachmann’s 11%, Pawlenty’s 10%, Paul’s 8%, and Huntsman with almost no support. In the event Palin does not make a bid, Romney would rise to 26%, with Cain at 16%, Gingrich at 15%, Bachmann at 14%, Paul at 11%, Pawlenty still at 10%, and Huntsman way back at 1%.
They also compared Romney running against a single more conservative candidate. The findings are interesting:
Romney would tie Pawlenty at 41%, while leading Cain, Palin, or Bachmann by seven to 14 points. The presence of those three Tea Party favorites is keeping Pawlenty back in a more crowded race, but it is actually Pawlenty’s ability to cut into Romney’s leads with moderates and the somewhat conservative that make him the most competitive anti-Romney at this point. Bachmann fares best with the very conservative.
I wonder if Romney will rethink his avoid Iowa strategy since it seems, at this point, that he is very much in the race. With the 1 to 1 match Pawlenty is certainly a competitor, but that is hypothetical and the field won’t be that clear though the Ames Straw Poll will weed a few people out. I think Paul is capped, I really don’t see him getting more than 12%… sorry Paul fans. Palin is up there without doing any campaigning in the state, and an argument for her getting in the race for those who may not favor her (but can’t stand Romney) is that she hurts Romney. Bachmann is finally starting to poll well. Where is Rick Santorum?
Herman Cain… are people in the beltway going to start taking this man seriously? I’ve said before he has strong support here and this poll shows it. I will make a prediction here though – it is going to take more than 21% to win the Iowa Caucus and with a margin of error in this race of +/-4.5% it’s anybody’s race at this point.