My take on the latest Republican polls 

As one who has scoffed at the idea that Mitt Romney was the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, I have also felt compelled to note in my Wednesday Examiner column that he did indeed perform like a frontrunner in Monday’s New Hampshire debate, and that the NBC/Wall Street Journal and Rasmussen polls released today show him at well over the 20% that seemed to be his previous ceiling among Republican primary voters.  

The NBC/WSJ poll, conducted before the Monday debate, shows Romney with 30%, ahead of Sarah Palin (14%) and Herman Cain (12%). The Rasmussen poll, conducted after the Monday debate, shows Romney with 33%, ahead of Michele Bachmann (19%) and Herman Cain (10%). Here are the results for each tested candidate in each of these two polls (Palin and Rick Perry were not tested in the Rasmussen poll): 

                                                         NBC/WSJ           Rasmussen

                Mitt Romney                         30                           33

                Sarah Palin                            14                             -

                Herman Cain                         12                           10

                Rick Perry                               8                               -

                Ron Paul                                  7                             7

                Newt Gingrich                        6                             9

                Tim Pawlenty                         4                             6

                Rick Santorum                       4                             6

                Michele Bachmann               3                            19

                Jon Huntsman                        1                             2

 

I think it would be folly to say that Romney has 30% of the Republican vote nailed down; voters don’t know nearly as much about him as they will when they start deciding in Iowa and New Hampshire early next year. Still, those are nice numbers to put up on the board.

 

Michele Bachmann clearly made a positive impression on many in the New Hampshire debate, and Herman Cain made some positive impressions in the South Carolina and New Hampshire debates; but surely those numbers cannot be regarded as firm. You might argue that Palin’s support pre-New Hampshire debate went to Bachmann post-New Hampshire debate, but I would be wary of such explanations, since I think it’s possible that there will be lots of fluidity among Republican voters from day to day and week to week. What these polls indicate to me, more than anything else, is that this is a fluid contest, with plenty of surprises left for us between now and whenever someone clinches the nomination. 

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Michael Barone

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