Online Influencer Poll: GOP 2012

by Benjamin Domenech on 2:15 pm May 13, 2010

Online Influencers on 2012


The 2012 Republican Presidential nomination is already a matter of hot discussion in political circles, and after the November elections six months from now, the race for the White House will begin in earnest. So this month, The New Ledger ran the first edition of what we anticipate will be a monthly feature: a simple poll of 100 online influencers on the right. We asked leading voices from around the blogosphere, with writers from Redstate, National Review Online, The Weekly Standard, HotAir, Commentary, BigGovernment, individual bloggers, and others throughout the conservative/libertarian thinktank world to weigh in.

We have no way of telling who voted for whom, and the poll tags multiple votes. The results are below. If you would like to participate yourself and let your voice be heard in the survey, we’ll be publishing the results of that in the days ahead. You can participate here.

Online Influencers Survey: May 2010

We asked respondents two questions: first, to rank six different candidates for the 2012 Republican nomination we believe will run, and second, to select one choice from a longer list, including several dark horse candidates. Altogether, we believe this gives an accurate (and somewhat surprising) picture of what leading conservative/libertarian bloggers and thinkers believe about the 2012 stakes at this very early point.

Question 1. Please Rank the Following Candidates for the 2012 Republican Nomination in Order of Preference:

Candidate 1 2 3 4 5 6
Mitch Daniels 45% 20.4% 14.3% 10.2% 6.1% 4.1%
Tim Pawlenty 12% 12.5% 39.6% 22.9% 12.5% 0%
Mike Pence 25% 20.8% 12.5% 22.9% 8.3% 10.4%
Haley Barbour 12% 27.1% 16.7% 16.7% 16.7% 10.4%
Mitt Romney 0% 12.5% 12.5% 18.8% 22.9% 33.3%
Newt Gingrich 6% 6% 4.2% 8.3% 33.3% 41.7%

A few points of interest:

  • Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana was the first place candidate, and has perhaps the most devoted following among the influencers, perhaps thanks to the fandom of National Review and other publications. An incredible 45% of influencers rank him as their first choice.
  • Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty came in second in our poll, as the consensus candidate. Pawlenty was consistently the 3rd or 4th choice of each respondent, the fallback position from their initial preferences. Only one out of five respondents ranked him in their top two choices, but notably, he was never ranked 6th.
  • Congressman Mike Pence, also of Indiana, was the last addition to our first six (and internally, his inclusion was subject to the most debate among our editorial staff). But he locks up the third spot with solid rankings.
  • Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is next, with the highest vote total as the second candidate. But as we shall see, that support seems to be relatively weak — Barbour does not break through in any other slot.
  • Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney may be feeling the sting of Obamacare or of his recent endorsement of Utah’s Bob Bennett; he came in fifth despite being seen as the silver medalist in 2008. Not a single influencer responding to this poll ranked him as their first choice.
  • Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich may be able to raise money, and he sure gives good speeches, but he has little stock with online influencers: he received the most fifth place and sixth place votes. It may be that his time is just too far past, that he carries too much baggage, or that he’s seen as having failed adequately to capitalize on the opportunity of 1994.

Now it gets interesting.

Question 2: Please Select One of the Following Theoretical Candidates for the 2012 Republican Nomination (Includes Dark Horses)

1. Paul Ryan 30%
2. Mitch Daniels 12%
3. John Thune 11%
3. Rick Perry 11%
5. Jeb Bush 9%
6. Jim DeMint 8%
7. Sarah Palin 6%
8. Tim Pawlenty 4%
8. Newt Gingrich 4%
10. Mike Pence 3%
11. Haley Barbour 2%
12. Mike Huckabee 0%

There were several additions to the field for the second question, including Sen. John Thune, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, conservative darling Sen. Jim DeMint, the ever-controversial Sarah Palin, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and (the extremely unlikely to run) Jeb Bush. We also dropped Mitt Romney from this selection, just on the very slim chance that he does not run, and because no one’s really been asking the question of what would happen if he decides against it.

A few notes:

  • As you can see, the respondents were overwhelming: the young Paul Ryan, who has not given much if any indication he is seriously considering running for higher office (and rejected calls to run for Senate or Governor in Wisconsin), received 30% of the total votes, more than double the next entry.
  • It’s interesting that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was such a non-factor. We expected her to dominate this section of the poll, and we were wrong. Even Jim DeMint ranked higher among influencers.
  • There is a strong contingent for both Thune and Perry made up of defectors from Pawlenty, Pence, and Barbour, who all fell to single digits. Only Mitch Daniels retained the bulk of his supporters, coming in second.
  • We will drop Mike Huckabee from this section of the poll in our June edition, as he attracted no votes, and likely add Romney, who we frankly can’t see sitting this one out.

We’re sorry if you’re a blogger who wasn’t included this time — we may expand the request list for June, and just take the first 100 respondents. If you’re someone famous and awesome and want to be included next time in this casual assessment of where things stand, please contact us at media [at]

Please note: We had great responses for our first survey, with 80% of our originally requested influencers voting within the timeframe. Because a few of the original requesters couldn’t participate (thanks to organizational restrictions) and a few didn’t want to yet, we extended the invitation to other bloggers and writers who had missed the cut on our original list. Due to a flaw in our poll settings (sorry, first time), while everyone answered the second question, a few people only ranked one candidate of the list of six, which is why the rest of the percentages are a bit odd.

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