Mark Murray shares the gory details from the new NBC/WSJ poll. I’m particularly struck by Pawlenty’s weak performance — he is comfortably behind Mitt Romney (who has 15 times Pawlenty’s support, which equals x), Michelle Bachmann (8x), Rick Perry (not in the race yet, but at 5.5x), Ron Paul (4.5x), Newt Gingrich (4x), Herman Cain (2.5x), and Rick Santorum (1.5x). This is despite the fact that the former Minnesota governor has an exceptionally talented staff and, by all accounts, solid political instincts. I’ll just note that Romney has a reputation as a flip-flopper, Bachmann has limited executive experience and a controversial record, Perry is largely unknown to voters outside of Texas, Paul is a paleolibertarian devotee of the decidedly un-mainstream anarcho-capitalist philosopher Murray Rothbard and he’s not afraid to share that fact with anyone who will listen, Newt Gingrich is Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain is new to politics and he has spent considerable time on local zoning issues that are not generally an important part of the work of a president, and Rick Santorum’s 2006 campaign was waged in no small part on the dire threat Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela poses to American security. The fact that all of these quirky, colorful characters are outpolling Pawlenty, a fairly conventional conservative, is intriguing.
It is, of course, quite possible that Republican primary voters will catch Pawlenty fever in the next few months and that I will soon eat my words.