Saturday, November 14, 2009

Pawlenty: Running for 2012, But Will He Be Running in 2012?

[UPDATE: Ah, here are the Rasmussen numbers on Pawlenty in 2012.]

If the Minnesota governor follows these numbers (or if they stay the same as 2012 approaches), the answer to that will perhaps be no.

PPP's tweeting about them, Pollster is reporting them, but Rasmussen isn't sharing them. Apparently, somewhere behind the pay wall, Rasmussen is showing in its latest survey of Minnesota that Governor Tim Pawlenty would only have the votes of 42% of Minnesotans if he were to run for president and win the Republican nomination in 2012. 46% would not vote for him. No, that's not necessarily a vote for Obama because the president's name was not used in the question, but it does provide a sense of just how blue Minnesota is.

Here's the question:
Suppose Governor Tim Pawlenty runs for President in 2012 and wins the Republican nomination. If Pawlenty was the Republican Presidential candidate, would you vote for him?
Yes 42%
No 46%
This isn't a true trial heat, but it would have been interesting to have seen how the answers to the two questions (the one above and a head-to-head with Obama) would have differed. My hunch is that the difference would have been similar to the difference between polling an incumbent (for any office) against both an actual named opponent or a generic, unnamed one. Look, for instance, at Sen. Burr's numbers in the latest Public Policy Polling survey of the 2010 race for Senate in North Carolina. Burr performs better against named opposition than against Generic Democrat X and I would assume that Pawlenty's numbers above would decrease if we were talking about a ballot question pitting the Minnesota governor against President Obama.

That said, these numbers aren't all that bad. Sure, Tim Pawlenty has the name recognition in his home state that he lacks elsewhere, but in a state where Obama is still garnering higher approval than disapproval numbers -- though that margin has shrunk -- I wouldn't rank this as an awful showing for the governor.

What we're really missing here is a time trend. Rasmussen keeps asking different questions about Pawlenty in regards to the 2012 presidential race in these Minnesota polls. In March, we got this:
Should Tim Pawlenty run for President in 2012?

22% Yes
61% No
17% Not sure
And in May, Rasmussen asked something slightly different:
How likely is it that Governor Pawlenty will run for President?

17% Very likely
42% Somewhat likely
24% Not very likely
5% Not at all likely
11% Not sure
Fine, how likely is it that Governor Pawlenty will win the Republican Presidential nomination in 2012?

7% Very likely
30% Somewhat likely
39% Not very likely
16% Not at all likely
8% Not sure
No, those aren't flattering numbers for someone in their own state, but this is exactly the reason Pawlenty is making the moves he is in relation to 2012 (starting a PAC, traveling the nation, raising money, etc.). Put simply, he is at a disadvantage relative to the other prospective Republican candidates (Huckabee, Palin and Romney).

Recent Posts:
FHQ Friday Fun: You Can't Beat Louisiana Politics

A Late Start for New Hampshire 2012: Pawlenty will be the First

Do Even "Fairly" Drawn Congressional Districts Favor Republicans?


Jack said...

Keep in mind that Pawlenty has never been overwhelmingly popular. In 2002, Pawlenty beat Roger Moe 44.4% to 36.5%, with Democrat-turned-Independent Tim Penny garnering 16.2%. In 2006, Pawlenty defeated Mike Hatch 46.7% to 45.7%, an election that Hatch likely would have won had it not been for a serious gaffe in the last week of the campaign.

This isn't a case of a popular governor in his state's minority party, like, say, Freudenthal of Wyoming or Lingle of Hawaii.

Josh Putnam said...

I think this is a great point, Jack. For lack of a better comparison, Pawlenty won two Clinton-esque victories in Minnesota.