The Democrat-leaning firm Public Policy Polling released a survey of 400 “usual Missouri Republican primary voters” yesterday that received a fair bit of attention for its finding regarding the 2012 Senate race. Of more interest, however, is the poll’s preliminary presidential primary findings. PPP found that Mike Huckabee led the 2012 pack with 27 percent, followed closely by Sarah Palin at 25 percent. Newt Gingrich received 15 percent, Mitt Romney scored 14 percent, Ron Paul received 5 percent, and Tim Pawlenty, Mitch Daniels, and John Thune trailed behind.
Now compare this with the 2008 Missouri GOP Presidential primary returns. This was a close three-way race, with John McCain winning with 33 percent, Huckabee trailing with 31.5 percent, Romney finishing third with 29 percent, and Ron Paul garnering 4.5 percent. Note that Huckabee and Paul receive in the PPP poll nearly exactly what each got in 2008. This suggests that they have maintained but not expanded their voter base — and that Mitt Romney has lost nearly half of his.
Here’s where it gets interesting. One could assume that Newt draws his 15 percent in the PPP poll largely from those who supported Romney in 2008 given the profile each candidate has. Indeed, Newt’s 15 percent plus Romney’s 14 percent exactly equals the 29 percent Romney received in 2008.
If this is true, that means that Sarah Palin is the heiress of the bulk of John McCain’s support. It will be interesting to see if this poll is an outlier or if support for one of the “two mavericks” is transferrable to the other nationwide.