An overwhelming majority of Iowa Republicans are undecided about who they would support in the 2012 First-in-the-Nation caucuses. A poll conducted for Rightosphere.com on March 4th shows that 57% of likely Republican caucus goers were undecided when asked who they would support. The early caucus poll shows that Iowa is up for grabs.
Former Arkansas Governor and Fox News personality Mike Huckabee led the field of candidates with 17% of the vote. He is followed closely by Mitt Romney with 14%, and in third place was Sarah Palin with 11% of the vote. Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty garnered just 1% of the vote. The only other candidate that the survey included was former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson. Johnson received less than 1% support.
With all of the perceived frontrunners under 20%, and with the likelihood that one or more of the top three candidates will not ultimately run for president, Iowa is wide open in 2010. Mike Huckabee is the only 2008 candidate who has maintained a presence in the state. He has also made more trips to Iowa since the 2008 caucuses than any other presidential hopeful. He has visited the state two different times to sell books, and he has also traveled to the state to support Bob Vander Plaats’ campaign for governor. Vander Plaats served as Huckabee’s campaign chairman in Iowa.
Sarah Palin visited Iowa briefly as part of her book tour, and Mitt Romney is scheduled to visit the state later this month. In the lead-up to the 2008 caucuses, Romney built an impressive field organization but failed to find enough support to win the caucuses. While unsuccessful in 2008, Romney will have an advantage that he didn’t have before – a list of previous supporters to whom he can reach out.
Iowa, however, will not be an easy place for Romney to campaign. Doug Gross, his 2008 Iowa Chairman, seems to have gone sour on Romney. He also has a hostile relationship with Jan Mickelson and Steve Deace on WHO radio, Iowa’s only statewide media outlet. For Romney to be able to come into Iowa and run for president again, he will have to walk a delicate line of focusing on the fiscal conservative that he is comfortable talking about, while remaining the social conservative he told Iowans he was in 2008. If he is unable or incapable of doing that, Iowa will haunt his second attempt at the presidency.
Sarah Palin remains a mystery. Many believe that, if she did have presidential aspirations, she would have made a splash in Iowa by now. Regardless of what people think of Palin, she is incredibly popular and would have tremendous appeal to caucus goers. Her third place finish in this poll is surprising and probably not reflective of the support she would receive if she did run.
The candidates that should be the most excited about these polling numbers are people like Tim Pawlenty and the others who were not polled. With 57% of likely caucus voters undecided, there is plenty of room for candidates to come to Iowa and stake their claim. One such candidate is former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, who will headline an event tonight for the Iowa Christian Alliance in Des Moines.
The Rightosphere.com poll was conducted by Right Way Marketing. The sample size was 300 registered Republicans. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 5.66%.
Photo by Dave Davidson
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