Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Huckabee's Favorability in the Post-Commutation Environment

Tom Jensen over at Public Policy Polling's blog got the ball rolling on this today, by giving us all a sneak peek into the firm's monthly 2012 presidential trial heat poll (due out Thursday). The early conclusion? The former Arkansas governor's commutation of Maurice Clemmons, who subsequently went on a shooting rampage, killing four Washington state police officers, has not affected Mike Huckabee's favorability compared to a few weeks ago. And he'll be even closer against Obama than he has been all year in the head-to-head match up.

Granted, some of the reaction has been Huckabee Unscathed and Huck holding on and FHQ isn't really buying that due to a couple of caveats (We would add a "yet" to the end anyone attempting to glean a long-term pattern in all of this.). First, I'm treating this like the McDonnell thesis revelation in the Virginia gubernatorial race. That news had been out in the open for two solid weeks before there was any noticeable tightening in the race between Bob McDonnell and Creigh Deeds. I don't think that the two week pattern is any hard and fast rule for finding the true impact of some moderately large piece of news (positive or negative), but the thesis example does indicate that it takes some time for that news to filter into the public's consciousness and into survey results. In this case, the Huckabee news broke coming out of Thanksgiving weekend.

Were/are people even paying attention? And speaking of attention, all this Huckabee speculation concerns 2012. Some people -- present company included -- are certainly thinking about that election, but most out there are not. This Clemmons/Huckabee connection isn't like the McDonnell thesis; it did not come out in the middle of a campaign. Well, the invisible primary campaign is active for the 2012 Republican nomination whether anyone wants to admit to that or not, but that is on the candidate end and not the voter end of the matter.

Long story short, then, this matter has not fully played itself out yet. It is just too early. It would have been different had this happened in the midst of the actual 2012 campaign or if PPP had posed a question about the Clemmons situation prior to asking the Huckabee favorability question. But it didn't. As such, wait for the effect. Keep an eye on the January numbers.

Recent Posts:
Thoughts on the Special Democratic Primary Election in Massachusetts Today?

Democratic Change Commission 2012 Rules Recommendations Taking Shape

Democratic Change Commission Meeting (#3) Tomorrow


Robert said...

I would not expect for the clemency to make that much of a difference in the voting population yet. Where it would show up now is in his true believers. His PAC coordinator has stepped down.


Romney, Pawlenty


and Palin


have expressed varying levels of support and sympathy for Huckabee while pointing out that they didn't pardon any bad guys during their tenure as governor.

I don't see he will survive the debates when three governors go after him over something he should never do. This situation will cut him deeply in his base supporters and his organizers. I think you can stick a fork in him.

Josh Putnam said...

Here are those links from Rob:

PAC Coordinator Stepping Down

Romney, Pawlenty

and Palin.

I think Huckabee'll (I just had to use that contraction.) have his work cut out for him if he opts to run in 2012. 2016 is more likely. That said, Matt from DemConWatch and I were having a conversation a while back about the track record for governors, I think it was, who had been out of office and how successful they were running in the primaries. The longer they were out of office, the worse they did. We discussed Palin and Pawlenty on that occasion but Huckabee fits that bill as well.

I'll have to dig that email up.

Robert said...

Interesting point, but you have to be very careful about historic precedent. At the beginning of 2008, it was widely believed that sitting Senators could not get elected because of their voting record(Kennedy had been the last one). Of course it helps if you are running against another sitting Senator! In 1968 it was widely believed that a former Vice-President could not be elected as Martin Van Buren was the last one to accomplish that feat in 1836. Since then Nixon and GHW Bush have broken that barrier. In 2012, someone may point out that we haven't had a back-to-back-to-back 8-year Presidencies since Jefferson-Madison-Monroe (1801-1825). The last back-to-back 8-year Presidencies, however, were Madison-Monroe. Prior to Clinton-Bush, these were also the last back-to-back twice-elected Presidents.

I am reading "Going Rogue" right now and will have a perspective soon on Palin's best chances for success.

Robert said...

Correction to my last comment! Lincoln (1860/1864) and Grant (1868/1872) were the last two twice elected Presidents prior to Clinton (1992/1996)and Bush (2000/2004). Cleveland (1884/1892) and McKinley (1896/1900) were interrupted by B Harrison (1888).

Josh Putnam said...

Oh, yeah. Times, they are a-changin'. We have seen the impact changing demographics can have on who ends up running, becomes nominated and wins the presidency. History is still a guide, but at the same time, it would be foolish to think that those longstanding precedents cannot be interrupted.

Let's look at the overlap, though. Palin may be exempt from that trend simply because of her "star power," but Pawlenty and Huckabee may not, in, say, 2016. Does that have anything to do with gender? No, not directly, but I think it is part of the equation.

If next in line is to be believed on the Republican side, Pawlenty could parlay a primary run in 2012 into success in 2016, as Romney (and Huckabee, though the odds have dropped) is trying to do in 2012 after 2008. Palin has enough Wow! to linger and be effective as a candidate if she would like.

...but no one knows if that's what she truly wants.

Robert said...

I am not sure Palin really knows what she wants yet. She appears to love the spotlight and adoration at the same time hating the personal criticism and attacks on her family.

If you look back at the successful candidates, they need the chemistry to connect with voters through their words and deeds AND a strategist or team who can play small ball in IA, NH, NV and SC, take it national for Super Tuesday (as Paul Gurian explained in our discussion group) and then modify the approach to fit the rigors of the general election.

Obama, W, B. Clinton, Reagan, Carter and Nixon all had both. GHW Bush had the strategists but not the chemistry. McCain did not have much chemistry. He had the strategists to take him to the general, but not all the way to the Presidency. H. Clinton did not have the strategists to play small ball. Kerry, Gore, Dole, Dukakis, Mondale, Ford and McGovern lacked the chemistry and some also lacked the strategists.

Of the 2012 crop, Pawlenty and Romney don't really have the chemistry. Palin, Huckabee and Gingrich all have chemistry. Huckabee did not have the strategists to take his campaign national after his victory in IA in 2008. I suspect that Gingrich has strategists and contacts that would do well in primary season, plus he is a master strategist himself. Palin could be very successful if she can find strategists akin to Ploufe and Axelrod who would let Sarah be Sarah or like Rove who could cut opponents off at the knees. Otherwise she will be a star without the delegates and not nearly as successful ass H. Clinton. More later on this point when I finish Going Rogue.