Poll: Tea Party threat to Allen minimal

Former Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) is likely to face a crowded Republican primary in his bid to return to the Senate in 2012, but he starts in good position to fight off any Tea Party-backed challengers. 

New numbers from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP) show Allen is the favorite for the nomination among Virginia Republicans. Allen and two other Republicans have already jumped into the race for retiring Sen. Jim Webb's (D-Va.) seat.  

Along with Allen, Tea Party activist Jamie Radtke and businessman David McCormick will run, with Del. Bob Marshall and Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart also weighing bids.

A full 67 percent of Virginia Republicans say Allen is their top pick, according to the poll. Just 7 percent prefer Marshall, another 4 percent favor Radtke, while McCormick and Stewart each earn 3 percent. 


Poll: Obama leads all rumored GOP contenders in Virginia

President Obama is in a solid position to win the traditionally Republican state of Virginia again in 2012, according to a new poll out Wednesday.

Numbers from the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling show Obama leading every potential Republican presidential hopeful by margins of 6 to 19 percentage points. 

Obama leads former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by 6 points, 48 percent to 42 percent. He leads former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee 51 percent to 43 percent, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich 51 percent to 39 percent.

Obama's largest lead in the state comes in a hypothetical matchup with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. The president leads Palin by 19 points — 54 percent to 35 percent. 

Despite holding leads over most of the rumored GOP field, Obama's approval in the state is still under 50 percent. That means his early advantage is due more to the poor favorability ratings of the rumored Republican contenders, writes pollster Tom Jensen.

"When you see Obama with a +3 approval spread but leads ranging from 6 to 19 points over his Republican opponents, it's a clear sign that his advantage is more about them than it is about him," Jensen said. 

The Republican with the best numbers in the state is Huckabee, who is viewed favorably by 40 percent of voters, compared to 41 percent who view him unfavorably. 

Romney, Gingrich and Palin fare much worse, with 48 percent of voters holding a negative view of Romney, 56 percent holding a negative opinion of Gingrich and a whopping 63 percent who view Palin unfavorably. 

The survey polled 524 Virginia voters and has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points. 

Obama won the state in 2008 — the first Democratic presidential nominee to win it in decades — and Virginia will likely prove pivotal for the president's reelection prospects in 2012, as other more Republican states like Indiana and North Carolina appear less in reach for Obama next year.  

Virginia Democrats, meanwhile, are still waiting on Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine to make a decision on the Senate race. Should Kaine jump in, it would set up one of the marquee matchups of 2012, with the popular former governor likely facing former Sen. George Allen (R-Va.).


Poll: Rep. Chaffetz even with Hatch in potential primary match

In the latest sign of potential 2012 trouble for Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), a new poll shows Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) deadlocked with the longtime senator among Utah Republicans. 

Chaffetz, who is still weighing a run against Hatch from the right next year, is tied with the senator at 42 percent among GOP voters in the state, according to new numbers from UtahPolicy.com. Another 15 percent remained undecided. 

The poll surveyed 348 registered Republicans and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.8 percentage points.  

In a separate question asked of 600 registered voters in the state, the poll found 54 percent who said it was time to elect someone new to the Senate in 2012. Just 31 percent said they would vote to reelect Hatch.   

Last week, a Deseret News poll showed Chaffetz within 10 points of Hatch. While the senator held a healthy lead among those who self-identified as Republicans in that poll, he trailed Chaffetz 51-35 percent among those who identified themselves as "very conservative." 

Should Hatch face a challenge for the GOP nomination next year, the state convention process, which is dominated by more conservative party insiders, will likely prove his toughest obstacle. It was at the convention last cycle that former Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) landed in third place and was unable to advance to a primary. 

If no candidate wins 60 percent or more of state delegates at the convention, the top two convention finishers head to a primary. 

It's still unclear how much Tea Party opposition Hatch could face in 2012. The longtime senator has made it a point to reach out to Tea Party activists in state and nationally, including speaking at a recent Tea Party Express town hall in Washington, D.C. The group, which backed a challenge to Bennett last cycle, has said it would carefully evaluate any challenger to Hatch should one emerge.


Poll: 'Moderate' Republican has better chance against Obama

Republicans have a better chance at defeating President Obama if the party nominates a "moderate" candidate, according to a new survey.

The Public Policy Polling survey was the second poll released Wednesday to show Obama tied with a generic Republican nominee if the election were held now.

The PPP survey had the president level at 47 percent with his unnamed challenger, and a Gallup survey had Obama tied at 45 percent with his challenger. The results become more nuanced if respondents are given ideological qualifiers about the GOP nominee.

In the PPP survey, a generic moderate Republican candidate has a 2-point lead over Obama, 46 to 44 percent. But when the 600 registered voters were asked whether they'd back Obama or a Tea Party conservative, the president led by 4 points, 49 to 45 percent.

Overall, Obama leads all his identified potential rivals by at least 3 points.

The PPP survey was conducted Feb. 11-14 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.


Heller poll shows him with double-digit lead on Sen. Ensign

Rep. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) would hold a commanding lead over Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) in a Republican primary, according to an internal poll from the Heller camp. 

Heller leads Ensign 53 percent to 38 in the survey, conducted late last month by the GOP firm the Tarrance Group. 

Pollster Dave Sackett writes in the memo that Ensign "is so badly damaged that he is already trailing on a ballot test against Dean Heller by 15 points." The poll found just 9 percent of likely Republican voters undecided in a potential Heller-Ensign match-up. 

The release of the numbers is an indication that Heller is moving toward a primary challenge to Ensign, who is still forging ahead with his reelection campaign. Despite the abysmal poll numbers and the desire among national Republicans to have someone else on the ticket next year, Ensign is continuing to ramp up his fundraising efforts.   

Ensign told The Ballot Box last week that the response to his early campaign moves in Nevada has been positive and said he was confident he'll raise enough money to compete. 

"I think most of the money is going to come in in the second quarter, but we're getting it all scheduled, which is a very positive sign," he said. "We are focused on fundraising right now, and doing my job for the people of Nevada trying to help the economy, because it's in dire shape out there."

Still, Heller's internal numbers mirror some of the public polling already conducted on the race, which shows Ensign trailing badly. 

"Strongly paralleling the untenable situation that faced former Gov. Jim Gibbons in 2010, a plurality of likely Republican primary voters in the state of Nevada believe that Sen. Ensign does not deserve reelection and that it is time for a new person," Heller's pollster wrote in the memo, making the argument that Ensign's scandal has left him too damaged to win in 2012.

With self-identified conservatives, Heller blows Ensign away, taking 62 percent of the vote. 

The poll also tested Heller's strength in a crowded primary field, which included potential candidates Sharron Angle, Danny Tarkanian and John Chachis. In a five-way primary race, Heller still led by 16 points.  


Ex-N.M. governor lacks home state support for potential W.H. bid

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson (R) doesn't have much of a base in his home state, according to a new poll.

A Public Policy Polling survey released on Monday had just 13 percent of New Mexico Republicans supporting Johnson.

Johnson, a successful businessman who served two terms as governor of from 1995-2003, was behind Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney. The top three Republicans took 20, 17 and 16 percent respectively in the survey of 357 of the state's GOP primary voters conducted Feb. 4-6.

The poll's margin of error was plus or minus 5.2 percent.

Johnson, who is perhaps best known as an advocate for the legalization of marijuana, attended the Conservative Political Action Conference last week. He finished tied for third with 6 percent of the vote in the CPAC straw poll.