Mike Huckabee, Iowa frontrunner?
1. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee leads the 2012 field in a survey of Iowa caucus-goers conducted for the Iowa Republican website by GOP pollster Jan van Lohuizen.
Huckabee takes 22 percent to 18 percent for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. In a slight surprise, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) received 14 percent to take third while former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin placed fourth with 11 percent.
No other candidate scored in double digits. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a near-certain 2012 candidate, rated just one percent while Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who appears to be getting more and more serious about the race, didn't even register a single percent. (For the Paulites out there, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who ran for president in 2008, placed fifth with 5 percent.)
Given the findings -- and the fact that the 2012 campaign has yet to begin in earnest -- the poll is right understood as, basically, a name identification test. Huckabee and Romney finished one-two in the Iowa Republican caucuses in 2008 and so it's no surprise that they hold down those same spots in the new poll.
It should be some comfort to the Pawlentys and Barbours of the world then that just a few years ago neither Romney nor Huckabee moved the needle in Iowa either.
"The great thing about the Iowa Caucuses is that, if you build relationships around the state and have a message that resonates with people, the sky is the limit," said Craig Robinson, a former state party political director and founder of the Iowa Republican.
While any poll done this far from the actual vote is rightly taken cum grano salis, Huckabee's staying power with Iowa voters is worth noting. He came from nowhere to win the caucuses in 2008 and the new poll suggests he would begin as the Iowa frontrunner if he decided to run again.
Will he? That depends on who you ask -- and on what day. Of late, Huckabee has started to look more like a candidate.
To wit: After endorsing former Georgia Rep. Nathan Deal (R) and appearing at a rally for him in the final days of the runoff fight against former Secretary of State Karen Handel, Huckabee touted the difference his involvement made following Deal's win last Tuesday.
"Check the poll numbers before I went and compare them to the election," Huckabee told RealClearPolitics. "You can draw your own conclusions."
2. Two new polls in Florida give dueling views of the contentious Democratic Senate primary between Rep. Kendrick Meek and billionaire real estate developer Jeff Greene.
A Mason-Dixon survey released Saturday showed Meek leading Greene 40 percent to 26 percent among likely voters, with 28 percent undecided.
Meanwhile, an Ipsos poll conducted for a consortium of Florida news organizations showed Greene taking 35 percent and Meek with 31 percent among registered voters. That survey showed 30 percent of voters remain undecided.
Former President Bill Clinton is campaigning for Meek at three rallies in South Florida today -- the latest in an all-out effort by Clinton to deliver a primary victory to Meek. President Obama will visit the Sunshine State for a fundraiser for Florida Democrats including Meek on Wednesday.
On Sunday Meek and Greene held their final debate of the primary. In addition to hammering each other on issues of ethics and character as they have in past debates, the two also touched on the issue of the proposed mosque near the site of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City.
Greene said that he strongly opposes the project's construction, while Meek said that he's "not going to step in front of the decision that has already been made in New York City." (President Obama said on Friday night that he favors, generally, the idea of a mosque being built although insisted Saturday he was not discussing any specific mosque.)
The primary is Aug. 24.
3. Republican former federal judge Brian Sandoval leads Democratic Clark County Commission Chairman Rory Reid 52 percent to 36 percent in a new poll of the Nevada governor's race.
Sandoval defeated Gov. Jim Gibbons (R) in a primary earlier this year and is considered a top GOP recruit, while Reid continues to struggle with the unpopularity of his father. But the senior Reid is doing much better, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) took 46 percent to Republican Sharron Angle's 44 percent in earlier results from the same poll.
Sandoval's lead is actually down slightly from last month, when he was up 19 points. But the new poll shows the number of undecided voters dropping from 19 percent to 12 percent, and his lead is basically holding at this point
A Reuters/Ipsos poll earlier this month also showed Sandoval's lead in double digits, at 50 percent to 39 percent.
The House race in Nevada's 3rd district is virtually unchanged from last month's Mason-Dixon survey.
Freshman Rep. Dina Titus (D) and former state Sen. Joe Heck (R) are in a statistical dead heat with the incumbent taking 43 percent to the challenger's 42 percent.
Republicans believe the Nevada House race is a top pickup opportunity; the latest Fix House Line ranked it as the 28th most likely seat in the country to switch parties.
4. Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman (R) has now spent more than $100 million of her fortune on the California governor's race, after plugging another $13 million into the race over the weekend.
Whitman's latest investment brings her total for the campaign to $104 million, which places her among the top handful of self-funders all time, and still with two and half months left in the race.
She is a lock to exceed the current record for self-funding of $109 million by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) in his most recent re-election campaign, which, in a reminder that money doesn't always guarantee success, he won very narrowly.
Whitman and state Attorney General Jerry Brown (D) continue to run in a virtual dead heat, despite the fact that Whitman is spending unprecedented amounts of money and Brown's campaign is, so far, reserving its cash.
Brown has raised $24 million and spent less than $1 million of it while Whitman spent more than $80 million in the first half of this year alone.
Outside groups -- led by organized labor and the Democratic Governors Association -- have largely taken up the anti-Whitman mantle, running television ads bashing her time on the board of Goldman Sachs among other topics.
5. Got plans tonight? Break 'em.
Why? Tonight is the August edition of "Politics and Pints", the Fix's night of political (and other trivia) -- not to mention general ribaldry.
If you live anywhere near the D.C. metro area, get over to the Capitol Lounge tonight. The trivia starts at 7 p.m. but teams are first come, first serve so the sooner you get there the better. (Make sure to sign up on our Facebook event page too!)
The rules are few. No teams larger than six. No cheating. No bare feet.
Don't have a team? No problem. Just show up and we will make sure you get placed with some top quality political junkies.
And, yes, there will be prizes. Official Fix t-shirts for the best team name -- the same group has won FOUR straight months -- and other prizes for the two teams who finish first and second.
See you there!
With Aaron Blake and Felicia Sonmez
August 16, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: Morning Fix
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