Donald Trump’s light has been shining brightly ever since he surprised us with a second-place tie in the NBC/WSJ poll last week.
The media has shifted its attention from Sarah Palin to Michele Bachman, even if the former still outperforms the latter in the polls.
Newt’s numbers still remain fairly high, and Huckabee’s even higher – despite all kinds of reasons why neither will win.
Tim Pawlenty’s admirable video launch captured less attention among voters than political observers, and he remains surprisingly unknown.
Mitt Romney stays ahead of the pack, however much he doesn’t enthuse voters.
The 2012 GOP field of potential White House contenders is, if anything, less congealed than it was a month ago. No one knows what to think at this point.
We decided to gauge enthusiasm for the 2012 field by asking the grassroots conservatives who comprise our Republican Panel and the conservative insiders who comprise our ConservativeHome100 panel the same question:
How enthusiastic are you about the line-up of potential Republican candidates for President in 2012?
Conservative insiders and influencers – columnists, political advisers, congressional chiefs of staff, activists – are not nearly as enthused about the 2012 field as the grassroots. While 56% of the grassroots are either “very enthusiastic” or “somewhat enthusiastic,” only 22% of conservative insiders register any enthusiasm. Of the 22%, all were in the “somewhat” category; zero insiders said they were “very” enthusiastic.
One shouldn’t conclude that the grassroots are overwhelmingly enthusiastic, however. One in five (22%) are either somewhat or not at all enthused. Insiders are even more unenthused, though: 37% say they are either somewhat or not at all enthused.
With 41% of the insiders saying they are neither enthused or unenthused, their position might best be described as hedging their bets or reserving judgment.
My takeaway from this:
- Insiders have a good sense of what electability requires. Their lack of enthusiasm suggests that those in the mix don't have what it takes to beat Obama in 2012.
- The grassroots reflects popular appeal. The fact that the grassroots are more optimistic suggests that some aspect of the current field excites them, and that matters for something. Since we didn't define the field, we don't know if their optimism reflects Trump's surge or an underlying confidence in Romney or whatever. But what's clear is that some level of appeal is registering at the grassroots that isn't among establishment Republicans.