Thursday, June 23, 2011

Poll Shows Christie Beating Romney By Wide Margin

The conventional wisdom that Mitt Romney is a "clear frontrunner" has taken root among political pundits. But a new poll suggests that Republican voters simply prefer candidates who aren't in the race yet, and that Romney is quite vulnerable.

In the past, we have seen how poll results can be dramatically different based upon which candidates a pollster chooses to include. The latest polling experiment puts Romney in a head-to-head matchup against various candidates, including those who have not yet declared they're running. (No, Sarah Palin wasn't one of them.) The poll, conducted by IBOPE Zogby/Newsmax, pits Romney against Chris Christie and Rick Perry. Here's how they performed, among likely Republican primary voters:

Romney vs. Christie
Christie 62
Romney 19
Not sure 19

Romney vs. Perry
Perry 55
Romney 22
Not sure 23

A word of caution: Zogby's polling has a checkered history, to say the least. But given the sheer size of the lead, it can't all be explained by poor sampling. In particular, it's interesting to note how badly Romney is trailing Christie, even though Christie has repeatedly (but not convincingly) said he's not running. Perry is also doing very well, though Perry has been a lot more open about his presidential ambitions.

The poll further breaks down the dynamics among different groups: conservative, moderate, and liberal Republicans:

Romney vs. Christie
Conservatives: Christie 65, Romney 17
Moderates: Christie 58, Romney 28
Liberals: Romney 38, Christie 22

Romney vs. Perry
Conservatives: Perry 62, Romney 16
Moderates: Romney 46, Perry 37
Liberals: Romney 58, Perry 3

Romney is weakest among conservatives and strongest among liberals. Perry is extremely weak among liberals, but strong among conservatives. Christie performs the best among conservatives and moderates. Romney beats Christie among liberals, but only by 12 points.

The poll further reinforces the notion that Republicans are dissatisfied with the current field and its supposed frontrunner. It also shows that Christie is best able to unify the different segments of the Party. For this reason, Christie would be the favorite to win, were he to jump into the race. Elephant Watcher calculates that Christie currently has a 66% chance of winning the nomination.