Poll: GOP Faithful ‘Still Waiting’

The news that Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels would not run for president further muddied a GOP race that has been described by some as "mired in mediocrity." Minus a Daniels entry, we asked a poll question regarding your favorite for the GOP nomination.

We offered five individual choices, but the overwhelming winner was "none of the above/still waiting" with 58% of the vote. Three of our individual options are already in the race, one (Jon Huntsman) is ready to make it official and one (Sarah Palin) remains a mystery. We posed the question before Texas Gov. Rick Perry became the object of speculation. A follow-up in a few months could reveal dramatically different sentiments.

The results of your votes:

  • None/still waiting: 58%
  • Mitt Romney: 13%
  • Sarah Palin: 10%
  • Tim Pawlenty: 10%
  • Jon Huntsman: 6%
  • Newt Gingrich (before his mass staff exodus): 2%

We move away from policy and politics with our current question: Do you consider Indiana a leading location for starting or growing a business? Provide your input at the top right corner of this page.

GOP Hopefuls Have a Long Road to Travel

There’s always a little skepticism when the latest poll numbers come out. Not that there isn’t value, but you typically need to closely consider the source, the questions and how they were asked. An exception, however, was a recent New York Times/CBS News survey on 2012 Republican presidential candidates.

The bottom line from the story I read: Whoever is going to mount a challenge to President Obama has a long road ahead of him/her. The public doesn’t have much of an opinion of the potential candidates at this point. A few highlights:

  • Nearly 60% of Republicans in the poll "cannot point to a single candidate about whom they are enthusiastic."
  • Percentage of Republicans who say they don’t know enough about these candidates to judge them favorably or unfavorably: Tim Pawlenty, 77%; Haley Barbour, 85%; Jon Huntsman, Jr., 94%; Mitch Daniels, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum fall in a similar range as Huntsman.
  • Even the "repeaters" have some challenges: Sarah Palin, 55% of all polled have an unfavorable view compared to 26% favorable; Mitt Romney, 28% favorable and 24% unfavorable; and Donald Trump, 60% of Republicans said they did not believe he was a serious candidate.
  • Mike Huckabee got the most support, viewed favorably by a third of all voters and more than half of Republicans. Still, asked who they were most enthusiastic about, 9% said Romney, 8% Huckabee and 57% did not name anyone.

But on the positive side, I’m sure all these candidates and their advisors will say there’s plenty of time to form that favorable impression. And four years ago at this time the leading candidate in this poll (most widely known and with a favorable ranking) was former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who never became a serious contender.

It will be interesting to see how these numbers evolve and how they stack up later this year.

Leading the Way for the GOP is ???

Agree or disagree with his policies, it’s clear that the primary occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is the leader of the Democrat party. But what about the Republicans? There is no face of the GOP — at least in the eyes of the American people.

Sounds like a problem for the GOPers. Or is it? Maybe a new torchbearer will emerge. Here’s the current status, as reflected in a couple of different surveys.

Sixty percent of respondents either didn’t know or declined to answer who they thought was a leader of the Republican Party. Further, 15 percent offered "nobody" as a response.

A separate survey suggests this might be a problem for the men who lead each chamber’s GOP caucus, House Minority Leader Boehner and Senate Minority Leader McConnell, at least if they want to continue to lead.

Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-leaning outfit, released a survey of GOP primary voters in which roughly one-third of respondents said both men should be replaced if Republicans gain control in November.

In the first poll, Boehner clocked in at 4 percent — within the poll’s error margin — as the leader of the party, behind former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., both of whom got 5 percent.

McConnell was a few lengths back, at 1 percent, behind former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., who got 2 percent, and tied with radio host Rush Limbaugh, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, TV host Glenn Beck and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

The numbers underscore the disconnect between the grassroots and the party hierarchy in an election year where the bottom-up momentum is coming from a movement almost as disillusioned by their own party as their Democratic opponents.

Republicans contend that having no leader associated with their party is not unusual when a party does not control the White House. But the question of who leads the Republican Party will take on a new urgency if they gain control of either chamber next year and have to shift motives from opposing President Obama’s agenda to moving one of their own. 

Gov. Daniels Draws Respect of NY Times Columnist

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat has joined the chorus of those singing the praise of Mitch Daniels. Though the Governor is still rather ambivalent about running for President in 2012, many in the national punditocracy are urging him to run:

Mitt Romney? He couldn’t make the voters like him last time … Sarah Palin? She’d lose 47 states … Mike Huckabee? Better as a talk-show host … Tim Pawlenty, Jim DeMint, Bobby Jindal, David Petraeus? Too blah, too extreme, too green, and stop dreaming …

But murmur the name Mitch Daniels, and everyone perks up a bit. Would he win? Maybe not. But he’d be the best president of any of them …

“I’ve never seen a president of the United States when I look in the mirror,” Daniels remarked last week, after officially inching the door ajar for 2012. You can’t blame him: At 5’7”, the Indiana governor wouldn’t be the tallest man to occupy the White House, and he’d be the baldest president since Dwight D. Eisenhower. If Romney looks like central casting’s idea of a chief executive, Daniels resembles the character actor who plays the director of the Office of Management and Budget — a title that he held, as it happens, during George W. Bush’s first term.

Since then, though, he’s become America’s best governor. In a just world, Daniels’s record would make him the Tea Party movement’s favorite politician. During the fat years of the mid-2000s, while most governors went on spending sprees, he was trimming Indiana’s payroll, slowing the state government’s growth, and turning a $800 million deficit into a consistent surplus. Now that times are hard, his fiscal rigor is paying off: the state’s projected budget shortfall for 2011, as a percentage of the budget, is the third-lowest in the country.

An Endorsement — Not — for Palin

I don’t feel I’m exactly going out on a limb when I say I don’t consider Sarah Palin a legitimate presidential candidate in 2012. It’s a little more interesting, however, when a key Republican player addresses the topic.

Steve Schmidt was chief strategist for John McCain’s presidential run. He said this last week about the former Alaska governor:  "My honest view is that she would not be a winning candidate for the Republican Party, and in fact were she to be the nominee, we could have a catastrophic result."

The CongressDaily update from the National Journal also reported:

Schmidt, who backed McCain’s choice of Palin as his running mate but clashed with her advisers, added: "I don’t think it’s inconceivable that she could be the Republican nominee for president of the United States. I think it’s almost inconceivable that she could be elected president of the United States."

Schmidt’s assessment came as he shared the stage with longtime Democratic strategist Bob Shrum at a forum sponsored by the Atlantic and the Aspen Institute.

Shrum jumped in as soon as Schmidt suggested Palin couldn’t win, joking, "Let me endorse Sarah Palin for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012."

The public perception of Palin during the campaign and her subsequent messy exit from the governor’s post will, in this corner, leave her a popular speaker/guest at events of all kinds but not a serious candidate on the national stage.

U.S. Senate Seats Can Provide More Drama than “Laguna Beach”

A new article on Stateline proves that Blagojevich’s Senatorial dealings are far from the first drama to surround a vacant U.S. Senate seat. Granted, I doubt any of these governors were caught on tape dropping F bombs of glee over the opportunity to personally benefit over the appointments, but interesting nonetheless:

In Alaska in 2002, newly elected Gov. Frank Murkowski (R) appointed his daughter, Lisa, to the Senate seat he himself had vacated. The move caused such an uproar that both the Legislature and later voters — through a ballot measure approved in 2004 — took away the governor’s appointment power. Alaska now holds elections to choose substitute senators, and Murkowski later was voted out of office in a Republican primary, losing to current Gov. Sarah Palin. 

In Massachusetts in 2004, Democratic lawmakers — worried then-Gov. Mitt Romney would appoint a fellow Republican to Democratic Sen. John Kerry’s seat if Kerry won the presidential election — stripped Romney of his power to do so. Voting on the proposal — which replaced the appointment process with a special election — broke sharply along partisan lines.

Also noteworthy is that current Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal — a Democrat — was the last governor to fill a vacant Senate seat with someone from the opposing party. This happened last year when Republican Senator Craig Thomas passed away, and Wyoming’s law dictated that the seat be filled by someone from the same party as the person who vacated it. Freudenthal chose Republican John Barasso.