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The Hill: Pawlenty no longer “a first-tier candidate”

Jake Grovum//July 27, 2011

The Hill: Pawlenty no longer “a first-tier candidate”

Jake Grovum//July 27, 2011

After weeks of disappointing poll numbers and another poor showing Wednesday morning, an influential 2012 GOP nomination  blogger for Washington-based The Hill has said “It’s time to stop calling [Tim Pawlenty] a first-tier candidate.”

Christian Heinze, who’s made a name for himself tracking all things Republican nomination, was riffing on the latest Gallup poll released today showing with a measly 2 percent showing among Republican contenders for the nomination.

That puts him in league with former Utah Gov. John Huntsman and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, two other candidates who have yet to catch on in the race for nomination but also never shared the high expectations bestowed on Pawlenty.

The poor showing finds him behind businessman Herman Cain and former House speaker Newt Gingrich, not to mention frontrunners such as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has yet to officially enter the race.

The other Minnesotan in the race, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, had a stronger showing, yet not as strong as some of her recent results have indicated. She came in tied for fourth with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, another rumored candidate who has yet to enter the race. Romney leads the pack with 17 percent support, followed by Perry at 15 percent and Sarah Palin at 12 percent.

If only announced candidates are included in the poll, Bachmann shows much stronger support: 18 percent, compared to 27 percent for Romney when Palin, Perry and Giuliani are removed. Pawlenty, however, shows no such bounce. His support ticks up to 4 percent in that scenario, placing him just ahead of Santorum and Huntsman but still trailing the rest of the pack.

But even that number is a significant degradation of support among announced candidates. Back in May, Pawlenty enjoyed 7 percent support in a Gallup poll and was seen as a candidate on the rise. The margin of error for the poll is 4 percentage points.

Pawlenty’s future in the race largely hangs on his performance in the coming Ames straw poll, which he has made a centerpiece of his campaign in the early going. Without a strong showing there, many say, he’d be hard pressed to stay relevant in the race. The jockeying ahead of the straw poll, however, has led to an increasing “war of words” between Bachmann and Pawlenty as they travel Iowa this week.

Despite the recent doom-saying, political scientist Jonathan Bernstein cautioned this week against counting Pawlenty out of the race just yet.

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