Wednesday, March 24, 2010

2012 polls

It needs to be said at the beginning that relying on polls two years before the Iowa caucuses is not the best thing to do. However, they do serve some purpose, and as such, a quick overview can reveal some things.One of the knocks against running Gingrich is his divisiveness. While that was true when he stepped down as Speaker of the House, he has done a very good job in recent years of rehabbing his image. Some of those events -- when he met with Hillary Clinton over health information technology, Nancy Pelosi and John Kerry on the climate, and most recently, Al Sharpton and President Obama on education -- have drawn ire from many conservatives.Their criticism has been largely silly, acting as if Gingrich has advocated for large-scale surrender of principles. All is he has done is tried to open a dialogue -- and he is confident his ideas will beat out those of the liberals he has met with. It was a message he spoke forcefully at CPAC.

Combined with that, as well as his focus on actual ideas and solutions, his popularity has been rising. In fact, in a June 2009 poll -- the last such poll I can find -- his popularity number with independents is split 37-38%. Being able to hold his own with that bloc is vital, of course, to any chance of victory. And chances are, when exposed to more of Newt's ideas, the 29% undecided will break more for him, handing him a win among unaffilated voters.

One of the interesting things the poll shows is that those under 30 are much more undecided than those above that age. Of course, much of that is because the older crowd remembers his days as Speaker, when he was target number one of the Clinton White House and liberal groups. The more people focus on the issues and reality, not the media spin and half-truths, the better it is for Newt.

Gingrich's standing in polls against President Obama have been improving, better than than the other top Republican contenders. A Public Policy Polling (PPP), a Democratic firm, survey from April 2009 showed Obama winning, 52-39%. But just two months later, the lead was down to 49-41% and Newt's numbers were better than Mike Huckabee (50-43) or Sarah Palin (52-40) and very close to Mitt Romney (48-40).

The next poll that pitted Obama and Gingrich was one from Clarus. It had Obama winning 48-36, right in the middle of the pack of GOP candidates. Romney did much better than every other Republican in the poll, trailing just by four points. Of course, that could be an outlier, or just an obvious result of having spent all of 2007 and two months in 2008 running for President already. His name identification is high.

President of Clarus Ron Faucheux said, "Gingrich improved his standing since the August poll when he was trailing Obama by 18 points. He's narrowed the gap to 12 points. Relative to Obama, Huckabee and Palin experienced only minimal improvement since August."

That is a pretty obvious sign that Gingrich is doing something that Huckabee and Palin are failing at. When combined with the results of Frank Luntz's focus groups that showed people warmed very much to Gingrich after actually his policy proposals, it would seem to suggest that over the course of a months-long campaign, Newt would only rise in the polls, while others would stagnate or fall.

Clarus also confirmed the findings of many polls that the former Speaker is at the top of the list of Republican spokesman, trailing only 2008 GOP Presidential nominee John McCain and the man who was second to McCain when he dropped out, Romney, among Republican voters. A Gallup poll from May 2009, for example, found Gingrich tied with Rush Limbaugh for first.

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