I’d forgotten that eight whole months had passed since the last CNN/Opinion Research poll on the possible GOP primary field. The toplines are good for Mike Huckabee, who has stayed popular and mostly uncontroversial (excepting his “Ted Kennedy would have died early under national health care” moment), and bad for Sarah Palin, who, in the intervening months, quit her job and engaged in an embarrassing spat with her grandson’s father.
Mike Huckabee – 32 percent (+6)
Sarah Palin – 25 percent (-4)
Mitt Romney – 21 percent (+0)
Tim Pawlenty – 4 percent (N/A)
It’s far too early in the game to make much of this, but consider: Four years ago, when Republicans knew they’d be facing a tough election, their early presidential frontrunners were Rudy Giuliani, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Romney. The first two were unacceptable to social conservatives, and the third was somewhat more acceptable, but still had huge problems with that part of the GOP coalition. Now the early frontrunners are two social conservatives, one of whom (Huckabee) is despised by the party’s economic conservatives and libertarians, and one of whom (Palin) is seen by many as unelectable — indeed, only 29 percent of Americans in this poll consider Palin qualified for the presidency. And that’s why, despite lagging in surveys like this, most wags still see Romney as the frontrunner.
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