I was curious about how much fluidity has been present in the preference polls regarding the candidates seeking the 2012 GOP presidential nomination so I decided to plot the candidates percentages for the last 12 polls. That takes the data back to August 17th, immediately after Texas Governor Rick Perry announced his candidacy. The final poll is dated October 5th. This is what the chart looks like:
|GOP Candidates Poll Numbers August 17-October 5 (Click to enlarge)|
A few things are evident in the chart: The bottom group (Huntsman, Santorum, Bachmann) are going nowhere. Bachmann's support has virtually fallen off a cliff since winning the Iowa straw poll in August. Huntsman and Santorum haven't been able to gain any traction whatsoever. The second tier (Gingrich and Paul) have more or less been treading water for two months. Their poll numbers have bounced between 7 and 10% most of the time, though each man topped 11% on a few occasions. A friend recently suggested that perhaps Gingrich was running for VP instead of president. Maybe.
The top tier has changed since August as Michele Bachmann has fallen out and Herman Cain has risen. They have virtually flipped positions in the polls as Cain has now polled above 15% in four consecutive national polls. Whether it is a bump from winning the FL straw poll or not, his numbers will likely help him sell more books on his current book tour. Of course, abandoning the campaign trail in Iowa and NH for a month to peddle books will probably cost him any real chance of winning either state next January, severely diminishing any prospect he has of securing the GOP nomination.
The most startling data in the chart is that of Texas Governor Rick Perry whose chart line looks more like the trajectory of an aging NASA satellite crashing back to earth than a serious contender for the nomination. He has fallen from a high of 37% near the end of August to just 12% in today's CBS poll. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney has run a slow and steady campaign, hovering in the high teens and low 20"s for much of the period. Conservatives may not like him or trust him but he has been the most presidential of the candidates seeking the nomination. Perhaps the most telling feature of the new CBS poll is that undecided polls higher than any of the named candidates and only 19% of Republican voters say they have settled on their choice. There is room for the field to improve their numbers but time is running short. It ought to be an interesting couple months.