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Senate Budget Committee member Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., walks to his seat on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011, prior to the start of the committee’s hearing titled the Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2011-2021. Fellow committee members Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas is at center, Sen. John Ensugn, R-Nev. is at right

Of course, South Dakota is GOP Senator John Thune’s home state but he is still polling very well against President Obama.
The one potential candidate who would completely blow Obama out of the water is John Thune. He leads the President by 20 points in a hypothetical contest, 57-37. Thune is the first of the potential Republican candidates we’ve polled who’s really done well in their home state. Tim Pawlenty trails Obama in Minnesota by a wider margin than Romney does. Rick Perry ties Obama in Texas even as the rest of the Republican candidates lead him. Chris Christie is down double digits in New Jersey and doesn’t do any better than Romney or Huckabee. We haven’t tested any head to heads in Alaska but voters there hate Sarah Palin now. Mitt Romney does better than the other Republicans in Masschusetts but still trails by a wide margin and Rick Santorum can’t even finish in the top four for a primary contest in Pennsylvania. So South Dakota’s strong support of a Thune run is more the exception than the rule in our 2012 polling to date.

Thune’s strong showing is no surprise given that he’s one of the most popular Senators in the country. His home state approval rating is 58% with only 31% of voters disapproving of him. He has near universal support from within his own party but he also gets good marks for his job performance from a third of Democrats, far more support than most folks in his position across the country get from across the aisle.

Obama’s slightly unpopular in the state with 42% of voters approving of him and 49% disapproving. He’s ahead of both Gingrich and Palin though because they’re more unpopular than that. Gingrich’s favorability is a 31/43 spread and Palin’s is even worse at 37/55. Voters there are positive toward Huckabee, with 40% rating him favorably to 30% with a negative opinion, and a small plurality like Romney as well- 35% favorable, 34% unfavorable.

A fresh face in the 2012 Presidential race, I just watched him on the Senate floor speaking to the repeal of ObamaCare. He was knowledgeable and articulate.

Should Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels not run, Thune could very well be the alternative to Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin should Mike Huckabee decide not to run.


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