A USA Today/Gallup poll released Sunday found that Republican and Republican leaning independents would prefer the candidate who can beat Obama rather than the one who they most agree with on issues. The poll gives an insight into how voters are thinking about this largely unsettled primary field, and seems to bode well for Mitt Romney, who is currently the frontrunner in most polls.
In this poll, Romney again leads the primary field with 24 percent of the vote. Sarah Palin trails him with 16 percent, followed by Herman Cain, who has 9 percent. Tim Pawlenty, generally lumped with Romney as a ‘first-tier’ candidate, is still in the single digits.
Four years ago, when USA Today/Gallup asked the same question, Republican voters wanted a candidate with whom they were most aligned on the issues. Now, rather than striving for perfection, Republican voters seem to be in an ‘anyone but Obama,’ kind of mindset.
Another thing that could benefit Romney is the focus on economics in this election. 57 percent of those polled said the economy and jobs were going to be the most important issues they looked at in deciding who to vote for. With his business background, Romney is viewed by many as the candidate most likely to benefit from the current poor state of the economy.
But Romney might have some competition. Pawlenty has earned praise from economists and the business community alike for the economic plan he presented Tuesday in Chicago, and the former Minnesota governor began taking swipes at Romney Sunday morning, coining the term “ObamneyCare,” to say that Romney’s program is indistinguishable from President Obama’s much maligned healthcare program. But Pawlenty’s poor performance in polls – he remains in single digits in most polls, including this one – suggest he has yet to gain traction.
The poll found that just as the field itself is still forming, so are Republican voters’ opinions. Only three in 10 Romney supporters said that they would definitely vote for him in the primary. In general, two to one, Republican voters said they might change their mind about who to vote for by the time the primary arrived.
Though several recent polls, along with anecdotal evidence, have suggested a malaise among Republicans when it comes to the selection of possible candidates, this poll found Republicans generally pleased. 67 percent said they were satisfied with the slate of candidates.
The poll is based on interviews with 851 Republican and Republican-leaning independents, conducted between June 8 and June 11, and has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.