Pawlenty and Trump on the rise, Gingrich slipping

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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In the second edition of The Daily Caller/ConservativeHome GOP 2012 Presidential tracking poll, Tim Pawlenty and Donald Trump are on the rise, while Newt Gingrich appears to be slipping.

This time, respondents were asked a new question: who are you most likely to vote for? Chris Christie and Mitt Romney come out ahead on this with 14 and 13 percent of the vote, respectively. Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich form the second tier, taking 11 percent of the vote each. Tim Pawlenty starts off rather well in this category, taking 7 percent of the vote, as does Donald Trump.

Both Trump and Pawlenty saw serious gains since the last poll. Pawlenty jumped five percentage points in the most likely to win category, placing him third place, with 11 percent of the vote, behind Romney and Christie. He also saw significant gains in likeability, gaining 4 percentage points. Since the last poll, Pawlenty announced the formation of an exploratory committee, and his gains are likely attributable to that roll out, which got him substantial media attention and brought him into the public eye as a serious candidate.

Voters appear to still be unsure about Pawlenty when it comes to the specifics. He continues to poll very low numbers as the candidate who would do the best at controlling government spending and the candidate would be best at handling the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Trump has also been the subject of a lot of media attention lately, having rolled out what many are calling a birther strategy, in which he has repeatedly questioned the existence of President Obama’s birth certificate, or questioned the information contained on said document. This seems to have gotten him some traction – a PPP poll released Tuesday found him to be the only candidate able to get within striking distance of Romney in the early primary state of New Hampshire.

In our tracking poll, Trump posted gains in every single category. He is now the candidate whom a plurality of voters believes would do the best job on the economy, edging out Christie as well as Romney. He gets 12 percent of the vote as the candidate who would do the best job controlling Washington spending – having gained 3 percent of the vote, which puts him ahead of every candidate except for Christie.

In the last poll, we noted that there is a disparity between who respondents believe will do the best job on the economy and who will do the best job reining in government spending. Voters believe Trump and Romney would do a good job handling the economy, but fewer think they would do the best job controlling spending. The pattern is reversed for Bachmann, Palin, Ron Paul, and Gingrich – who are also seen by respondents as the most conservative candidates. Trump seems to be moving toward breaking this pattern. Though more people have confidence in his ability to handle the economy – 17 percent, compared to 12 percent who believe he would do the best job at reining in spending – he is now a top tier candidate in both of those metrics.

Gingrich, on the other hand, seems to be slipping. His percentage of the vote dropped in every single category. Gingrich has had a rough go of it in the past couple weeks, making a series of gaffes like changing his position on Libya twice and explaining that he was unfaithful to his first two wives because he was so patriotic. Chris Cillizza gave him the Worst Week in Washington for last week. Indeed, Gingrich’s the share of voters who called Gingrich the best candidate on foreign policy dropped by three percent.