Polsters Think Romney Has It, Cain Does Not

We’ve been asking you every couple of months for nearly a year now to give us your opinion on who you think will end up as the Republican nominee for President. We last polled on Tuesday, giving us five different snapshots of how Colorado Pols readers view the GOP field.

With that data in-hand, we created some handy charts to show the rising and falling fortunes of several Republican contenders as viewed by the Colorado Pols community. It’s interesting to note that while Mitt Romney has always been the perceived favorite, Polsters have never bought into Herman Cain. Take a look:

Who Will Be the Republican Presidential Nominee?

It’s time again to cast your votes as we ask you who you think will be the Republican nominee for President. A lot has changed since our last poll in August, and after this round we’ll present a graphical breakdown of the wisdom of the Polsters.

As always, we want to know your opinion on who will ultimately win the nomination, and not your personal preference. In other words, if you had to bet the deed to your house, who would you choose?

Click below to vote.

Who Will be the Republican Nominee for President in 2012?

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How Low Is Mitt Romney’s Ceiling?

Last week was not good to Republican Presidential contender Herman Cain, who tried (and failed) to spin his way out of a litany of prior sexual harassment claims. You would think that Cain’s problems, combined with the apparent cratering of Rick Perry weeks earlier, would be a boon for Mitt Romney.

Apparently not. From The Washington Post:

Often described as the candidate to beat in the GOP race, Romney remains stuck in place in national polls – he is at 24 percent in the Post-ABC survey – despite the fact that one of his main challengers, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, has stumbled and several high-profile potential candidates decided not to enter the race to challenge President Obama.

Romney’s lack of traction carries well beyond the head-to-head matchups with other competitors. It also is reflected on discrete issues and candidate attributes. Considerable numbers of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents consider the health plan that Romney signed into law in Massachusetts and his Mormon religion as strikes against him.

The survey tested the candidates on six attributes or characteristics. Romney has a sizable lead in just one: One-third of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents say he has the best chance of anyone in the field to defeat Obama in 2012.

While Romney may be viewed as the most likely Republican to defeat President Obama, there’s no getting around the fact that GOP voters just really don’t like him that much — which is one reason why his campaign is trying to stick a fork into Perry once and for all.

It’s worth noting that at this point in 2007, polls showed former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani to be the Republican favorite for President. Giuliani, of course, flamed out in spectacularly-invisible fashion; he didn’t so much implode as he just dissolved. This new poll will only increase the debate as to just how low Romney’s ceiling might be. While he isn’t going to fade away like Giuliani, there’s a very real question about Romney’s best-case scenario. Is 25-30% basically as good as Romney can do with Republicans?

Gloves Come Off in GOP Presidential Debate

Last night’s Republican Presidential debate in Las Vegas got a bit heated, with Rick Perry trying to right his sinking ship and others trying to put a chink in Mitt Romney’s armor. Our friends at “The Fix” break down the winners and losers…with a focus on the “losers”:

* Herman Cain: For the first ten minutes of the debate, the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza was under near-constant attack over the specifics of his “9-9-9” plan. For the rest of the debate, he was almost nonexistent. Cain’s attempts to dismiss criticism of “9-9-9” – the apples, the oranges – weren’t terribly convincing and are ripe (wink, wink) for follow-ups in the coming days. And, when it came to foreign policy and national security, Cain seemed distracted at best and totally out of his depth at worst. His answer on the Guantanamo Bay prison was, um, not good.

* Michele Bachmann: Almost every answer the Minnesota Congresswoman gave was the dictionary definition of a non sequitur. Bachmann seemed intent on proving to anyone watching that she, more so than the other candidates on stage, really doesn’t like President Obama and wants to undo everything he has done. But, Bachmann seemed so intent on hitting her lines – she threw in the “we are going to make Barack Obama a one-term president” bit in a head-scratching coda to the debate – that it left the impression that she was participating in a conversation entirely apart from the one happening on stage. Just odd.

* Rick Perry’s bullying: Measured aggression in a political debate is a good thing. Unchecked aggression isn’t. And there were several times when Perry came dangerously close to stepping over that fine line. His repeated attacks on Romney employing illegals at his home were decidedly personal – although he did force Romney into an explanation of exactly what happened. Perry brought his swagger tonight but he may have applied it a bit too liberally at times.

The fact is, Herman Cain massively contradicted himself in his answer about potentially negotiating with Al Qaeda for Guantanamo Bay prisoners, a la the recent Gilad Shalit exchange between Israel and Hamas–between plainly ridiculous 180-degree gyrations on a critical foreign policy issue and the fierce takedown of his “9/9/9” tax reform plan by just about everybody on the stage, we’d say the Cain fad took a major, and most likely inevitable hit yesterday.

Less clear, as the report above notes, is whether Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s much more lively performance in last night’s debate will help him in the long run. He didn’t actually land any new blows on opponent Mitt Romney, as what he accused Romney of has been known since 2008. There were also a few moments, particularly when it was clear Perry was not letting Romney get a word in edgewise, where he looked less combatively presidential, and more like a jerk. That said, Republicans who want Perry to recover from his recent plunge in the polls needed reassuring that Perry was capable of something, anything more than his totally flatfooted performance so far. For good or ill, they got some volume out of him.

Herman Cain Just Might Actually Be President

Our friends at “The Fix” outline how Republican businessman Herman Cain may just actually (no, really) have a chance at the GOP nomination for President. On the heels of a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released yesterday, “The Fix” plots Cain’s (potential) path to victory:

1. Cain is already top-tier: Cain has surged to 27 percent in a hypothetical national primary ballot test – up from just 5 percent in an August NBC-WSJ poll. His current standing puts him on par with Romney (23 percent) and makes clear that the two men comprise the top tier in the race as of today. That Cain’s rise has been fueled almost entirely by the struggles of Texas Gov. Rick Perry (Cain went up 22 points between August and October, Perry dropped by 22 points over that same period) is a dynamic that suggests Cain is now the conservatives’ choice in the contest.

2. Cain has room to grow: Nearly one in four Republicans (23 percent) in the NBC-WSJ survey didn’t know enough about Cain to offer an opinion on him. Just six percent had no opinion of Romney and 11 percent didn’t know enough about Perry to rate him. That means that Cain – unlike either of his two main opponents – still has a ways to go until he reaches his political ceiling. Combine that with the fact that the people who know Cain really like him (52 percent have a favorable impression,while just 6 percent have a negative one) and there’s clearly room for growth there.

3. Ideology trumps electability: A near-majority (46 percent) of Republicans said the most important thing to them in a presidential nominee was “a candidate who comes closest to your views on issues” while another 33 percent said they valued the “right personal style and strong leadership qualities” in a candidate. Just 20 percent said they preferred a candidate with the best chance to beat President Obama. [Pols emphasis] It’s hard to argue that Cain is positioned anywhere but to the ideological right of Romney, putting him more in line with the average primary voter. And, while it’s somewhat debateable which of the two men have the “right personal style”, Cain is clearly the more charismatic of the duo.

That highlighted part above is just stunning — only 20% of Republicans say they prefer a candidate who has the best chance to defeat President Obama. If Republican voters are really more interested in ideology than electability — which was certainly true in 2010 — then this is great news for Cain…and Obama.

Herman Cain Takes Center Stage…Literally

The Republican candidates for President will debate again tonight in New Hampshire, and Herman Cain will take a prominent role on the stage. From our friends at “The Fix“:

A new Gallup national poll puts Cain in a statistical dead heat with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney for first place. And in New Hampshire, Cain has moved into second place behind Romney, according to a new poll by Saint Anselm College and the Harvard Institute of Politics.

Cain’s newfound prominence is further affirmed by his central position on the debate stage itself – sandwiched between Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry. [Pols emphasis] If Cain’s top-tier status is without question, what he will do with it in tonight’s debate is very much up in the air…

…What Cain does with his moment tonight will determine whether this is the beginning of a long run at (or near) the top of the field for him, or the beginning of the end of his moment in the spotlight.

Longtime “frontrunner” Mitt Romney is making headlines today, thanks to receiving the endorsement of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, but tonight could end up being all about Cain. Putting Cain in the middle of the stage between Romney and Perry gives the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO a legitimacy that he has not yet enjoyed to this point in the race. If he does well in tonight’s debate, the race for the Republican nomination for President could look a lot different tomorrow.

Does Herman Cain Have a REAL Chance at the GOP Nomination?

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What Happened to Tim Pawlenty?

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty began campaigning for the Republican nomination for President as soon as the 2008 race ended with Barack Obama victorious. T-Paw was thought to be a strong potential candidate, a favorite among the Republican establishment as a popular politician from an important midwestern state.

So what happened? How did Pawlenty go from rising star to record-setter (as the fastest Presidential candidate to end a campaign following the Ames straw poll). Our friends at “The Fix” think Pawlenty’s failures were fundamentally about being the wrong type of candidate at the wrong time:

Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty’s decision to drop out of the presidential race on Sunday – nearly six months before the first votes are set to be cast in the 2012 contest – was the result of a fundamental misreading of the Republican primary electorate and a failure to properly manage the expectations game.

Pawlenty’s presidential candidacy was an open secret in Republican political circles long before he made it official in late May. His recruitment of highlyprized staff talent earned him buzz in the early months of 2011 as he worked to emerge as the Republican alternative to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

But, problems soon became apparent.

Pawlenty’s demeanor – he was the definition of “Minnesota Nice” – didn’t fit with an electorate who wanted confrontation with President Obama at all costs. Pawlenty watched as Rep. Michele Bacmann soared past him in the race – channeling the anger of voters who saw compromise in any form as capitulation.

A stroll around the Ames Straw Poll on Saturday showed just how badly Pawlenty had miscalculated what the electorate was looking for.

Pawlenty wasn’t just boring — he was either unwilling or unable to take the shots at frontrunner Mitt Romney that he needed in order to get his own piece of the spotlight while casting himself as a real alternative to the former Massachusetts Governor. At the same time, he tried attacking Rep. Michele Bachmann, an unwise decision given her army of vociferous supporters (and T-Paw’s lack thereof). Pawlenty’s indecision on the type of candidate he wanted, or needed, to become was reflected in his fundraising; as Politico reports, his campaign was running on fumes:

Pawlenty was unable to raise a significant amount of money and spent much of what he did bring in on TV and radio in the lead-up to Ames. Pawlenty had originally hoped to emerge as the chief alternative to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, but he found himself pinned down in Iowa over the past six weeks trying to fend off the surging Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann…

…Pawlenty’s campaign initially signaled on Saturday night that he would try to move forward, but with his third-place finish here and with Texas Gov. Rick Perry getting in the race, it became clear to Pawlenty that he’d have trouble financing a campaign.

Pawlenty’s money issues are so dire, according to one campaign source, that he is going to have difficulty making payroll this week and may have to delay some payments.

So where does Pawlenty’s exit leave the Republican field? His endorsement is considered valuable, but he says he will definitely not be a candidate for Vice President. In the short term, his departure may hurt Romney more than his presence in the race ever did, because it makes Iowa a two-person battle between Bachmann and Texas Governor Rick Perry (Romney thus far has decided not to compete in the land of corn). Regardless of the outcome, this is an interesting moment in the 2012 race because it’s the first departure by a legitimate contender.  

Romney Should Heed Clinton’s Fate On Inevitability

Interesting numbers in a new poll from Zogby released late yesterday. According to the results, Republican voters don’t really want Mitt Romney as their Presidential nominee…even though they seem convinced that he’ll be the guy:

Michele Bachmann continues to lead the field of announced Presidential candidates among Republican primary voters, but Rick Perry would be the top choice if he entered the race.

Mitt Romney trails both Bachmann and Herman Cain among announced candidates and falls even further back when Perry and Chris Christie are included. However, he continues to be seen by GOP voters as most likely to be the nominee. [Pols emphasis]

This is an interesting conundrum for Republicans. As we’ve said time and again in this space, most high-dollar donors give money to the candidates that they think are the most likely to win; it’s only human nature to want to back the winning horse. Romney thus far has raised the most money among GOP contenders, and by this logic, he should continue to bring in more cash than anyone else. Yet Romney’s poll numbers consistently show that Republicans are apathetic towards his candidacy, so how long will he be able to hold enough interest while maintaining his aura of inevitability?

In early 2007, a somewhat similar dynamic played out for Democrats with Hillary Clinton, who was widely thought to be the inevitable Democratic nominee for President. Clinton, of course, was not able to maintain that early momentum into Iowa in 2008. With just five months until Republicans roll into Iowa for their Presidential battle, Rep. Michele Bachmann appears to be more popular in Cornville than Romney…with Texas Governor Rick Perry looming large.

What say you, Polsters? Will Romney be able to hold onto his aura of inevitability? Vote after the jump?

Will Romney Still Be Viewed as the GOP Frontrunner by January?

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Winners and Losers from GOP Presidential Debate

Our friends at “The Fix” break down the Winners and Losers from the GOP Presidential debate last night in New Hampshire. Some of the more notable tidbits:

WINNERS

Michele Bachmann: For viewers who had never heard of the Minnesota Congresswoman before tonight, she put on quite a show. For the first 45 minutes of the debate, Bachmann dominated the stage with quotable lines galore and an audience hanging on her every word. She faded somewhat in the middle of the debate – particularly with her confusing answer on whether she supports a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage – but rallied in the closing moments. What Bachmann proved tonight? She’s ready for primetime.

Mitt Romney: Romney came into the debate as the frontrunner in New Hampshire and nationally and he did nothing in the 120 minutes on stage at Saint Anselm College to change that. Romney was serious and well informed – in a word: presidential. His debate experience from 2008 clearly paid off as he stayed focused on President Obama and the economy to the exclusion of almost everything else. Romney also benefited from the fact that none of his rivals seemed to have the stomach to attack him directly. And, health care was – at best – a tangential topic. All in all a very good night for Romney…

…LOSERS

Tim Pawlenty: Pawlenty came into the debate with perhaps the biggest challenge: to prove that the insider buzz he has been generating of late could be translated to a public forum. He had moments where he shined – his answer on the separation of church and state was outstanding – but by and large he came across as a bit over-programmed. Pawlenty also seemed to pass on a golden opportunity to prove his “tell the truth” credentials when King asked him about his criticism of Romney’s health care plan. Pawlenty demurred even though 36 hours before he had described the law as “Obamneycare”. Strange.

Herman Cain: After winning the first debate of the year in South Carolina, expectations were high for the Georgia businessman. And for the first hour (or so) of the debate, he held his own. But, Cain’s answer on whether he would have a Muslim in his Cabinet was confusing at best and offensive at worst and will be, without question, the memorable moment of the debate for him. And that’s not a good memory.

Since many of you probably didn’t get around to watching last night’s debate, we’ve got a broader question for you after the jump. Which GOP Presidential candidate has most (surprisingly) impressed you lately? In other words, who has made you take notice — for good reasons — in recent weeks?  

Which GOP Presidential Candidate Has Most Impressed You?

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Who Will be the Republican Presidential Nominee?

Republican Rick Santorum announced that he will formally “announce” his bid for President on June 6, and reports yesterday say that Michelle Bachmann will roll out her campaign in Iowa next month. Meanwhile, some polls continue to show that the Republican frontrunner could be former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain.

With all of that in mind, it’s time again for the Colorado Pols Republican Presidential Poll. As always, we want to know what you think will happen — not your preference. If you had to bet the deed to your house, how would you bet on the GOP Presidential field? (Click here for previous results)

Who Will be the Republican Nominee for President in 2012?

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Wait, Wait, Wait…Herman Cain???

According to a new poll from Zogby, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain (yes, that Herman Cain) has emerged as one of the top two choices for the Republican nominee for President.

Seriously. Here’s the odd news:

Herman Cain trails only Chris Christie as the top choice among Republican primary voters in the race for the 2012 Presidential nomination. Mitt Romney ranks fourth, but voters see him as the most likely nominee by a wide margin over the rest of a 13-person field.

One-half of GOP voters say they would never vote for Donald Trump, and more than 30% say they would never vote for Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee or Ron Paul.

These results are from an IBOPE Zogby interactive poll of 1,377 Republican primary voters conducted from May 6-9.

This can’t be written off as a complete outlier, either, because the high negatives for Donald Trump, Sarah Palin and friends is consistent with other polls of late.

We’ve said before that it’s going to be extremely tough for Republicans to defeat President Obama in 2012, but if the GOP ends up with Herman freakin’ Cain as their nominee, we might as well just skip the election and jump straight to Obama’s second term.  

Colorado Republicans Love Them Some Bachmann

Colorado Republicans held their “Centennial Dinner” last weekend, which included a straw poll on the GOP candidates for President. As our pals at The Colorado Statesman report:

Unsurprisingly, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney – who won the 2008 Colorado caucuses with 59 percent of the vote over John McCain’s 19 percent in a nonbinding preference poll – led with 76 votes, twice the tally of his nearest competitor, though he only garnered roughly one-fourth of the total votes. Next in line was Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, a conservative lightning rod who has been making noise about a possible presidential bid in recent weeks, with 38 votes. Another half-dozen candidates bunched up with similar votes.

We’re not going to pretend that there is anything particularly meaningful about a straw poll conducted among party faithful, but the results are certainly interesting. Here’s the Top Ten from the “Centennial Dinner” Straw Poll:

1. Mitt Romney – 76 votes

2. Michele Bachmann – 38

3. Tim Pawlenty – 34

4. Mitch Daniels – 27

5. Chris Christie – 26

(tie) Donald Trump – 26

7. Sarah Palin – 20

8. Newt Gingrich – 19

9. Herman Cain – 14

10. Mike Huckabee – 12

It’s a little surprising to us that Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann received so many votes. Sure, she’s a darling of the Tea Party, but we’re talking about a vote for President here. Bachmann is relatively unknown outside of Tea Party circles, and you’d be hard-pressed to make a logical case that Bachmann stands a better chance at defeating President Obama than just about anyone else on that list (sorry, Herman Cain). The best you can say about Bachmann is that she’s a poor man’s (or is it “poor woman’s”) Sarah Palin, whose approval ratings are dropping faster than a missile in Libya.