According to a poll conducted by Winthrop University, 2008 GOP Presidential candidate and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee leads a crowded field of potential candidates for the 2012 GOP nomination.
The "Winthrop Poll" is a series of public affairs polling conducted by Winthrop's Social & Behavioral Research Lab. This particular poll sampled registered voters in 11 Southern states - AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, TX, and VA.
While we'll question the practicality of polling voters in states which will mostly play little or no role in the GOP nominating process, as well as the ability early polling to predict the outcome of the 2012 nomination process, it is worth noting that while the early polls don't always predict who will win, they're pretty good at telling us who won't win.
So how did the other potential GOP candidates fare?
Huckabee carried just under 22%, with the other notable candidates being Newt Gingrich (12.9%), Sarah Palin (8.7%), Mitt Romney (6.9%) and Tim Pawlenty (6.2%).
•Independents lead the way in dissatisfaction with the track the country is on, with more than three-out-of-four (75.5%) believing we are headed in the wrong direction. This represents an increase of almost 20% in the number of Independents (57.7%) who voiced their disapproval in Nov. 2009 when Winthrop last polled 11 Southern states.
• Registered Voters, Democrats, Republicans and Independents agree almost equally that the economy and economic/financial crisis is the #1 problem facing the country today. However, of the top three responses offered by Democrats, 13.4% mentioned education (no other category did) and 15.5% of Republicans mentioned the price of oil/gas/other energy issues, a fact particularly relevant in light of the recent unrest in the Mideast.
•Almost 40% of all respondents are not very confident or not at all confident about President Obama’s ability to handle threats to the U.S. Among Independents, 45.3% feel that way, and for Republicans it’s 62%.
•Almost twice as many people in the South felt that economic conditions in their region were very good or fairly good ( 37.3%) as compared to only 21% who characterize the national economy that way.
The pollsters surveyed 825 respondents in 11 Southern states, taken between Feb. 21 and Feb. 27 among those 18 years and older from AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, TX, and VA, with an oversampling of registered voters. The survey used Random Digit Dialing (RDD) and wireless phone number sampling. Data utilizing all respondents has a margin of error of plus/minus 3.41 percent.