PPP to drop Pawlenty from some state-level polling due to poor performance nationally

As a result of Tim Pawlenty’s poor performance in its latest national poll, Public Policy Polling will no longer include the former Minnesota governor on the list of candidates it polls in a direct match-up against President Barack Obama at the state level. Pawlenty will still be included in PPP’s Republican primary polls.

PPP is set to release the results of its national poll this week. Teasing those results on Monday, Tom Jensen, PPP’s director, tweeted: “Rick Perry debuts in our national polling at 12%. Will replace Pawlenty in our state level general election polls because T-Paw is now 8th.”

He later clarified to The Daily Caller that Pawlenty was “only being dropped from our general election polling at the state level [from] the people we test against Obama. That’s limited to the top 5 in our national polling. He’ll still be in the Republican primary polling.”

Jensen explained that, “Who gets polled in general election match-ups is determined by the standings for the GOP primary since ostensibly the people who do best in the GOP primary have the best chance of ending up as Obama’s opponent.”

Pawlenty, having apparently fallen to eighth place, no longer meets that criterion.

The decision of whom to poll against Obama is “based entirely on polling at this point,” Jensen said. “Earlier in the cycle before people were actually declaring we did it based on who seemed like the strongest candidates but there’s enough data to base it on now that we do that instead.” (He wrote the book on it: Sen. Mike Lee talks ‘Cut, Cap, and Balance’)

Though initially referred to as a top-tier candidate and a likely contender for the nomination, Pawlenty’s continued poor performance in the polls — despite having been the first Republican to announce an exploratory committee — has caused some to question that standing in recent weeks.

PPP is a Democratic firm, but as Politico’s David Catanese recently noted, it has been one of the most accurate polling firms in 2011.