Huck's World

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 20 2011 10:54 AM

Huck's World

First, the Everlasting Caveat: National presidential primary polls do not matter. Do you see President Hillary Clinton or President Rudy Giuliani around here? No? Case in point.

With that, the new Washington Post/ABC News poll on 2012 GOP hopefuls emphasizes the power Mike Huckabee has to shape the race. He's in roughly the position Al Gore was for Democrats in 2003 and to a lesser extent in 2007 -- a well-loved figure with most of the party who displays interest in everything but a presidential bid. The topline among Republican primary voters:

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Mike Huckabee - 21
Mitt Romney - 19
Sarah Palin - 17
Newt Gingrich - 9

In the WSJ/NBC pol l, the first choices of GOP voters:

Mitt Romney -  19
Mike Huckabee - 18
Sarah Palin - 14
Newt Gingrich - 10

All that aside, Huckabee's plan is... well, no one knows his plan. As Ben Smith reports, he is spending June on a political cruise to Alaska. If there's uncertainty about whether Huckabee runs, and uncertainty about whether Palin runs, there is a scramble in Iowa (mostly) and the South (to a lesser extent) for his endorsers and voters. I'll call this the Pawlenty Window -- the months when he can be the anti-Romney, introducing himself to Iowans, and seeing if he can build a base there. The last Iowa poll I've seen, the June 2010 Des Moines Register poll , put Romney, Palin, and Gingrich at the top of GOP preferences there, but 53 percent of voters had no idea who Pawlenty was.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.