Mitt Romney may not be the favorite candidate of Republican voters, but he seems to be earning their respect as the candidate most likely to beat Obama, according to the latest Daily Caller/ConservativeHome Republican primary tracking poll.
This time, the poll asked only two questions: which of the possible candidates would be your top pick for President in 2012, and which of the possible candidates is the most electable in 2012?
Heading into the Republican debate tonight in New Hampshire, 30 percent of voters called Romney the most electable candidate, 13 percent more than the last poll on May 9, when 17 percent of voters called him the most electable.
Nonetheless, Romney is not necessarily the top pick for most Republican voters. In that category, Herman Cain leads, with 16 percent of respondents saying he is their top choice, followed by Chris Christie and Sarah Palin, who tie with 14 percent. Romney is a close third with 13 percent of the vote.
But that set up may bode well for Romney. According to a USA Today/Gallup poll released Sunday Republicans would prefer to elect the candidate who they believe can defeat President Obama, rather than the candidate with whom they are most ideologically in line.
Several polls released last week found Romney leading the Republican field by large margins, both nationally and in early primary states. A Washington Post/ABC poll even found Romney leading President Obama in a head-to-head race among registered voters. One of Romney’s opponents, Tim Pawlenty, began taking shots at Romney this weekend, coining the term ObamneyCare, to put the similarities between the healthcare program Romney implemented as governor of Massachusetts, and Obama’s hated healthcare program. With Romney established as the clear frontrunner of the moment, those attacks seem likely to continue in the debate Monday night.
Two other winners in the latest tracking poll are Sarah Palin and Rick Perry, who each saw their share of the vote in the both categories increase significantly. Perry, who never got more than one or two percent of the vote in previous tracking polls, saw increases of five to six percent in his share of the vote. 6 percent of respondents named him as their top pick, giving him an edge over more established candidates like Tim Pawlenty. 8 percent named Perry as the most electable, leaving him tied with Bachmann, and just two percentage points behind Palin. Perry seems to be benefiting from the hype building around a possible candidacy, and the attention he has gotten in recent days as Newt Gingrich’s staff, many of them former Perry staffers, deserted the Gingrich campaign en masse.
Palin for her part, saw a seven to eight percentage point boost in her share of the vote, perhaps as a result of her increased media presence over the past couple weeks with her bus tour. 10 percent of voters called her the most electable candidate, putting her in fourth behind Romney, Christie, and Cain. 14 percent said she was their top pick.
The big loser in this recent tracking poll is Newt Gingrich, who saw his support erode by 7 percent across the board, putting him in the low single digits. This likely has to do with the reporters of the exodus of Gingrich’s staff, and the fact that Gingrich himself has gotten little media attention for anything other than that, having been out of the country on a cruise with his wife.
This poll is based on an online survey conducted between June 9 and June 12. The sample size was 751 voters, 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.
See the full results below.