GOP Primary Volatility Captured in Conservative Reader Sentiment

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The vicissitudes of the GOP presidential primary have been dizzying; candidates have surged and plummeted so sharply and with such frequency that predicting the next sea change in sentiment can seem like a fool’s errand. But if you’re looking for a reliable bellwether of how candidates are faring with the motivated GOP base, check out these graphs from the popular conservative website Hot Air. 

The site runs an informal monthly survey for readers (here’s an example) that has proven to be an accurate reflection of the conservative hive mind — and a good signpost for the direction the candidates’ fortunes may be headed. Measured against the national polling averages, the HotAir surveys reliably track the candidates’ peaks and valleys, though they tend to exaggerate trends: the ascents are a little steeper, the swoons a little more dramatic than national polls reflect. This might be because the site’s voters have a redder, more activist bent than the people pollsters reach at home during dinnertime.

Either way, the graphs are revealing; check out Mitt Romney’s, in particular, for a glimpse into how his ongoing struggles to woo the right-wing base aren’t fully reflected by his buoyant polls. And if you give credence to the surveys as a harbinger of where things are going, note that they suggest the Gingrich campaign’s rise from the ash heap to the apex of the field is far from complete.