Another poll shows Huckabee's the one to beat in Iowa

A third poll this month finds former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee with an early lead among Iowans likely to participate in the 2012 Republican caucuses. James Q. Lynch brought the latest poll to my attention. Strategic National surveyed 410 Republican Iowa caucus-goers on January 18 about their preferences for the next presidential campaign. Huckabee led the field with 27.5 percent, followed by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney with 18.5 percent, 17.6 percent undecided, 12.4 percent for former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, 12.2 percent for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, 4.4 percent for former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, 3.7 percent for Representative Michele Bachmann, 1.95 percent for Senator John Thune, just under 1 percent for former Senator Rick Santorum, and 0.24 percent for Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour.

Strategic National has worked for various Republican candidates, but I know nothing about the Michigan-based consulting firm as a pollster. I wonder whether “410 Republican Iowa caucus voting answers” means 410 people who said they will go to the GOP caucuses in 2012, or 410 people who have caucused in the past, or whether some other likely voter screen was used.

Earlier this month, Public Policy Polling and Neighborhood Research both found Huckabee leading Iowa Republican caucus-goers, with Romney in second place.

My hunch is that Huckabee won’t run for president in 2012, for reasons I discussed here. Also, his 2008 campaign manager Chip Saltsman just took a job on the Hill, although Saltsman says he would be available if Huckabee runs for president again.

If Huckabee decides to challenge Obama, he’ll probably get in the race late. Iowa caucus-goers aren’t known for rewarding late starters, but Huckabee already has high name recognition here. In addition, a large portion of GOP caucus-goers have a conservative evangelical orientation. Strategic National’s poll found that nearly 68 percent of respondents said the earth was created in six days, and 45 percent agreed that the earth is about 10,000 years old.

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