While no Republican could-be candidate towered above the field, GOP Insiders focused on Daniels and Pawlenty as two whose stock has been rising in recent months, but for very different reasons. Daniels, who has taken few overt steps towards mounting a national campaign, is seen as someone who could champion the Republican themes of shrinking government and cutting spending and also has the record in Indiana to back up that message in a campaign. "The more it becomes about deficit reduction, the better he does," said one GOP Insider. Even Daniels' serious demeanor is considered a positive. "Increasingly seen as the anti-Obama -- no flash and slogans, but real leadership and a plan," swooned another Republican.
Pawlenty was rated equally well by GOP Insiders who have been impressed by his disciplined courtship of the party faithful in the early caucus and primary states. Pawlenty is also viewed as a candidate who is acceptable to a broad range of Republicans and has relatively little political baggage. "[He] continues to methodically define himself as the mainstream conservative Republican who can appeal to traditional and new Republican activists," said one GOP Insider. "Daniels may not run because of family, Barbour has proven surprisingly tone deaf, Gingrich has failed to turn around the marital issue, Palin excites her core group and is unacceptable to everyone else, Romney-care has become the mark of death for Romney," noted another GOP Insider. "It looks more and more as though everyone has a fatal weakness, other than Pawlenty."
Democrats generally concurred and saw Daniels as an "adult" and Pawlenty as "organized."
But not a single Insider in either party thought Palin had improved her standing recently and a solid plurality of Republican Insiders along with a majority of Democrats thought she was the biggest loser in the GOP field.
|Which potential GOP presidential candidate's stock fell the most in the past few months?|
Several Insiders pointed to Palin's performance in the wake of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., when she accused the media of a "blood libel" for pointing out that Palin's PAC had used a gun scope to show that it was targeting Giffords for defeat in the midterm elections. Both Democrats and Republicans were dismissive of the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee's prospects in 2012. "Every day, fewer Republicans take her seriously and are unafraid to mock her," said one Democratic Insider.
Indeed, Republican Insiders were brutal in their assessment of Palin. "Looking attractive, and being attacked by the news media are not sufficient qualifications for President," said one GOP Insider. "Her market niche is being filled by [GOP Minnesota Rep.] Michele Bachmann," said another GOP Insider. "When people say Bachmann is like Palin, only smarter, that's a problem."
The National Journal Political Insiders Poll is a regular survey of political operatives, strategists, campaign consultants and lobbyists in both parties. Below are the names of the Insiders who surveyed:
Democratic Political Insiders Jill Alper, John Anzalone, Brad Bannon, Dave Beattie, Andy Bechhoefer, Cornell Belcher, Matt Bennett, Mitchell W. Berger, Mike Berman, Stephanie Bosh, Paul Brathwaite, Donna Brazile, Mark Brewer, Ed Bruley, George Bruno, Deb Callahan, Bonnie Campbell, Bill Carrick, Guy Cecil, Martin J. Chavez, Tony Coelho, Larry Cohen, Jerry Crawford, Brendan Daly, Jeff Danielson, Peter Daou, Howard Dean, Scott DeFife, Jim Demers, Tad Devine, David Di Martino, Debbie Dingell, Monica Dixon, Patrick Dorton, Pat Dujakovich, Anita Dunn, Jeff Eller, Steve Elmendorf, Carter Eskew, Eric Eve, Vic Fazio, Peter Fenn, Scott Ferson, Jim Fleischmann, Tina Flournoy, Don Foley, Jeffrey Forbes, Don Fowler, Vincent Frillici, Gina Glantz, Niles Godes, John Michael Gonzalez, Joe Grandmaison, Anna Greenberg, Stan Greenberg, Pat Griffin, Larry Grisolano, Michael Gronstal, Lisa Grove, Marcia Hale, Jill Hanauer, Dick Harpootlian, Paul Harstad, Laura Hartigan, Doug Hattaway, Mike Henry, Karen Hicks, Leo Hindery Jr., Harold Ickes, Marcus Jadotte, John Jameson, Steve Jarding, Jonathon Jones, Jim Jordan, Gale Kaufman, Lisa Kountoupes, Kam Kuwata, Celinda Lake, David Lang, Penny Lee, Chris Lehane, Jeff Link, Bill Lynch, Bob Maloney, Steve Marchand, Jim Margolis, Paul Maslin, Keith Mason, Susan McCue, Gerald McEntee, Tom McMahon, Phil McNamara, David Medina, Michael Meehan, Mark Mellman, John Merrigan, Steve Murphy, Janet Napolitano, David Nassar, Marcia Nichols, John Norris, Tom Ochs, Tom O'Donnell, Scott Parven, Jeffrey Peck, Debora Pignatelli, Tony Podesta, Jack Quinn, Larry Rasky, Mame Reiley, Steve Ricchetti, Will Robinson, Steve Rosenthal, David Rudd, John Ryan, Michael Sargeant, Stephanie Schriock, Wendy Sherman, Terry Shumaker, Sean Sinclair, Phil Singer, Erik Smith, Doug Sosnik, Greg Speed, Darry Sragow, Ken Strasma, Katrina Swett Sarah, Swisher, Doug Thornell, Jeffrey Trammell, Ed Turlington, Rick Wiener, James Williams, JoDee Winterhof, Brian Wolff, Jon Youngdahl, and Jim Zogby.
GOP Political Insiders Dan Allen, Stan Anderson, Gary Andres, Saulius (Saul) Anuzis, Rich Ashooh, Whit Ayres, Brett Bader, Mitch Bainwol, Gary Bauer, David Beckwith, Paul Bennecke, Clark Benson, Wayne Berman, Brian Bieron, Charlie Black, Kirk Blalock, Carmine Boal, Jeff Boeyink, Ron Bonjean, Jeff Buley, Luke Byars, Nick Calio, Al Cardenas, Danny Carroll, Ron Christie, Jim Cicconi, Rob Collins, Cesar Conda, Jake Corman, Scott Cottington, Greg Crist, Diane Crookham-Johnson, Fergus Cullen, Tom Davis, Mike Dennehy, Ken Duberstein, Steve Duprey, Debi Durham, Sara Fagen, Frank Fahrenkopf, John Feehery, Don Fierce, Mindy Finn, Mindy Fletcher, Carl Forti, Alex Gage, Bruce A. Gates, Sam Geduldig, Adam Geller, Benjamin Ginsberg, David Girard-diCarlo, Bill Greener, Jonathan Grella, Lanny Griffith, Janet Mullins Grissom, Doug Gross, Todd Harris, Steve Hart, Christopher Healy, Ralph Hellmann, Chris Henick, Terry Holt, David Iannelli, Barry Jackson, Clark Judge, David Keating, David Kensinger, Bruce Keough, Bob Kjellander, Ed Kutler, Chris LaCivita, Jim Lake, George S. LeMieux, Steve Lombardo, Kevin Madden, Joel Maiola, Gary Maloney, David Marin, Mary Matalin, Dan Mattoon, Brian McCormack, Mark McKinnon, Kyle McSlarrow, Ken Mehlman, Jim Merrill, Lisa Camooso Miller, Tim Morrison, Mike Murphy, Phil Musser, Ron Nehring, Terry Nelson, Neil Newhouse, David Norcross, Ziad Ojakli, Jack Oliver, Todd Olsen, Connie Partoyan, Dana Perino, Billy Piper, Van B. Poole, Tom Rath, Scott Reed, David Rehr, Tom Reynolds, Steve Roberts, Jason Roe, David Roederer, Dan Schnur, Russ Schriefer, Rich Schwarm, Brent Seaborn, Rick Shelby, Andrew Shore, Kevin Shuvalov, Don Sipple, Ken Spain, Fred Steeper, Bob Stevenson, Eric Tanenblatt, Richard Temple, Heath Thompson, Jay Timmons, Warren Tompkins, Ted Van Der Meid, Dirk van Dongen, Jan van Lohuizen, Stewart Verdery, Dick Wadhams, John Weaver, Lezlee Westine, Tom Wilson, Dave Winston, Ginny Wolfe, and Fred Wszolek.12:32 p.m. CORRECTION: The original version of this post misspelled the U.S. ambassador to China's name. It is Jon Huntsman.