Among the talking heads and former leaders were the GOP’s potential 2012 candidates. Their numbers seem to illustrate the party’s problem with the prospective field: For the most part, people don’t really know them and certainly don’t have the political hots for them.
Let’s take the five George Will narrowed the field to in the Washington Post today: Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, former Utah governor and departing ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, former Massachusetts governor Romney and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty.
When voters were asked to give their hotness or coldness assessment, they were also given the option of saying they didn’t know enough to rate the individuals. Daniels, who might be able to unite people with his politics if he looked even moderately presidential, came in with a 78% score on the don’t-know-you scale, despite recent attention from his dealings with unions and his speech at CPAC. Barbour and Pawlenty followed close behind with 65% and 67% respectively not knowing who they are. And Huntsman really swept this category, as one would expect from a man with his limited opportunities for exposure, with 84%.
While Romney did not, of course, suffer from being unknown, he barely squeaked into the top 10 at 50.4 degrees. And one might suspect that his numbers are already topped out given that nearly 80% of voters rated him, rather than getting ready to explode.
Of course it’s early; obscurity problems or generating tepid responses can still be addressed. But there are plenty of Republicans out there wishing that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has all but tattooed a promise not to run on his forehead, would get in the game. He came in third in the poll, following only the ever-popular Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton. Perhaps other Republicans should look to Christie’s example of how to bring the heat.