As the smoke clears in and among the GOP field of candidates we are now seeing a first read of who is the front-runner and who is doing very well. Gallup released a poll that put Mitt Romney in the lead of the GOP field, with a surprising name on his heels by one or two percentage points. That name is Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. She has not indicated that she wants to jump into the race, but her presence near the top of the poll indicates that things are starting to change. Clearly she has benefitted from the absence of Mike Huckabee in the race as many social conservatives are looking for someone that will stand up for their values.
The interesting thing here is that the third place position, which is represented by a few candidates has a name that is getting more popular as people get to know him, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain. His direct approach and style are being seen by people in a positive light and people love having a newcomer in the field that is refreshing. Mr. Cain is fairly plain spoken when asked questions about what he believes and what he stands for and he is also a Tea Party favorite.
Two other things can be noticed in this latest poll. First, the Tea Party vote is being split between three different candidates. No doubt Sarah Palin pulls some votes there along with the ever present Ron Paul. Add Herman Cain to that and you get a pretty significant number of people that could decide the GOP candidate. But, since they are supporting three different people right now, possibly a fourth if Michelle Bachman gets into the race, their influence could be stunted and we could see Mr. Romney as the man to stand against Barack Obama.
The other significant mark is that 22 percent of people surveyed have no opinion or just don’t know who to throw their support behind. That number is significant because it is a bigger number than any other candidate has in this crowded field. No doubt that number is there because it is still very early in the process, but it still shows that people are being careful as they consider who to vote for.
The best thing that could happen for the GOP is to have a couple of the Tea Party candidates back out so those people could unite behind a single candidate. Even given the “weak” nature of the field, if people that believe in lower taxes and limited government could unite, they would prove a powerful enough force to overturn Obama and elect a new President. It might be time for those candidates and their people to get realistic and decide which one will stand and which one will drop out so those forces can get it together.