Surely, my Two Primaries Theory is being tested by this poll out of South Carolina. Herman Cain in the lead with 26 percent. Newt Gingrich in second with 19 percent. Mitt Romney third with 16 percent. And maybe it’s tested by the new CBS News poll, which has Romney and Cain both falling, and Gingrich gaining. Can we still say that Romney is winning the actual presidential primary, while a few other guys are scrapping it out in a buzzy, fun conservative primary?
Maybe. The most interesting polls I’ve seen today is this one, from Rasmussen, and this one from Gallup. The headline in Gallup: Rick Perry’s cratering, turning off three-quarters of voters. The next item: Mitt Romney is viewed favorably by 48 percent of all voters, Gingrich by 38 percent, Cain by 37. Contrast that with Gallup, which only asks Republicans who they like. There, Cain is still the most popular candidate by miles – a net favorable rating of 25 points. Gingrich is next at 14. Romney is next at 10. It keeps being true: Romney’s running aspects of a general election campaign already, mostly ignoring the GOP drama, and only suffering insofar as base voters haven’t accepted him yet. This is a problem in early primaries that becomes less and less important after Romney wins New Hampshire and becomes the better-polling choice against Obama versus some candidate of the base – Cain or Gingrich.