Chris Christie continues to perform best in DailyCaller/ConservativeHome tracking poll, Paul Ryan makes strong debut showing

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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In the third edition of The Daily Caller/ConservativeHome Republican primary tracking poll, we switched up the questions and asked respondents “Who would be your top pick for President in 2012?” and “Who would be your second choice for President in 2012?” We’ve also added a new candidate: Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, whose profile has risen in the wake of his budget plan.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie leads the pack as respondents’ top pick, followed by Donald Trump, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Sarah Palin trails Romney by just a tenth of a percentage point. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann also make the top tier.

Ryan does quite well for someone who has so adamantly denied that he will run for the presidency. He garners 6.9 percent of the vote, more than former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and more than double former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Many commentators have predicted that Pawlenty will be the nominee because he is everybody’s second choice. But if that is his strategy, he may have some problems closer to home. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann is the overwhelming favorite as people’s second choice, getting 14.9 percent of the vote. She leads Chris Christie by three points. Mike Huckabee comes in third with 9.8 percent of the vote followed by Romney and Palin. Pawlenty only gets 5.5 percent of the vote as respondents’ second choice.

On questions of economics, Ryan looks like he could be a strong candidate. He gets 10.2 percent of the vote when respondents were asked “Who would you trust most as President to get the economy growing again?” That puts the Chairman of the House Budget Committee in fourth place behind Trump, Romney, and Christie. Trump is the overwhelming favorite, getting a quarter of the vote.

Asked which candidate they would “trust most as President to get Washington spending under control,” respondents picked a slightly different slate of candidates. Christie, the budget hawk governor of New Jersey, is the favorite. He leads Trump by over four points. Ryan and Bachmann are close behind.

Past analyses of this tracking poll have somewhat glossed over Christie’s popularity, adamant as he is that he will not run. But with the immediate popularity of Paul Ryan, who is in the same boat, it begs another look.

Both Ryan and Christie regularly poll higher than candidates who are far more certain to run, like Pawlenty, and often higher than the perceived frontrunner, Mitt Romney. That could suggest a couple of things. One is that Republicans are looking for a candidate with a proven record as a budget hawk – Ryan, Christie, and Bachmann have been very vocal in calling for decreased spending, and a balanced budget. On the other hand, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is in a similar position, earning the nickname “the blade” during his time as Bush’s director of the Office of Management and Budget, yet he does nowhere near as well, possibly because of low name recognition.

Alternatively, it could suggest discontent with the current field and a desire for other candidates to get into the race.

This poll is based on an online survey conducted between April 21 and April 26 with a sample of 785 voters. Those respondents are drawn from a panel of 2,500 people identified as conservative Republicans and likely primary voters.  The majority of the panel is politically active, with 70 percent having contributed money to a campaign or worked on a campaign. Thirty-five percent of the members on the panel self-identify as part of the Tea Party, while 58 percent say they sympathize with the movement.

(Check out the results of the first and second editions of the DailyCaller/ConservativeHome tracking poll. See full poll results on the next page.)

Who do you think is the most electable in 2012?

Chris Christie — 18.8

Mitt Romney – 18.1

Donald Trump – 15.4

Mike Huckabee – 9.2

Michele Bachmann – 6.2

Paul Ryan – 5.0

Newt Gingrich – 4.9

Tim Pawlenty – 4.3

Herman Cain – 3.3

Ron Paul – 3.3

Mitch Daniels – 1.8

Rick Santorum – 1.7

Haley Barbour – 1.4

John Bolton – 0.8

Jon Huntsman – 0.8

Rick Perry – 0.7

Gary Johnson – 0.1

Buddy Roemer – 0.0

Who would be your top pick for President in 2012?

Chris Christie – 15.9

Donald Trump – 12.2

Mitt Romney –9.4

Sarah Palin –9.3

Newt Gingrich – 9.0

Michele Bachmann – 8.0

Paul Ryan – 6.9

Mike Huckabee – 6.8

Herman Cain – 4.7

Ron Paul – 3.9

Tim Pawlenty –3.0

John Bolton – 2.8

Mitch Daniels – 2.6

Haley Barbour – 1.8

Rick Santorum – 1.8

Jon Huntsman – 0.7

Rick Perry – 0.7

Gary Johnson – 0.3

Buddy Roemer – 0.1

Who would be your second choice for President in 2012?

Michele Bachmann – 14.9

Chris Christie – 11.9

Mike Huckabee – 9.8

Mitt Romney – 8.6

Sarah Palin – 8.0

Donald Trump – 7.1

Newt Gingrich – 6.6

Paul Ryan – 5.8

Herman Cain – 5.7

Tim Pawlenty – 5.5

Ron Paul – 3.2

Rick Santorum – 3.0

Haley Barbour – 2.5

John Bolton – 2.1

Mitch Daniels – 2.0

Rick Perry – 1.7

Jon Huntsman — 0.9

Gary Johnson – 0.7

Buddy Roemer – 0.0

Who would you trust most as President to get the economy growing again?

Donald Trump – 25.6

Mitt Romney – 13.7

Chris Christie – 12.5

Paul Ryan – 10.2

Newt Gingrich – 6.7

Sarah Palin – 5.8

Herman Cain – 5.1

Ron Paul – 4.9

Michele Bachmann – 4.7

Mike Huckabee – 3.0

Mitch Daniels – 2.4

Tim Pawlenty – 1.2

Rick Santorum – 1.1

John Bolton – 0.9

Haley Barbour – 0.8

Jon Huntsman – 0.8

Rick Perry – 0.5

Gary Johnson – 0.1

Buddy Roemer – 0.0

Who would you trust most as President to get Washington spending under control?

Chris Christie – 19.1

Donald Trump – 14.5

Paul Ryan – 13.5

Michele Bachmann – 11.3

Ron Paul – 9.1

Newt Gingrich – 6.6

Sarah Palin – 6.6

Mitt Romney – 5.3

Mike Huckabee – 3.2

Herman Cain  — 3.8

Mitch Daniels – 1.9

John Bolton – 1.2

Tim Pawlenty – 1.0

Rick Perry – 0.8

Jon Huntsman – 0.6

Rick Santorum – 0.5

Haley Barbour – 0.4

Gary Johnson – 0.4

Buddy Roemer – 0.0