At this point in the election cycle, the field of Republican presidential cCandidates is wide open. Many of those who have been considered "front-runners" have yet to declare and many of those who have declared are unlikely to win. Some of the candidates we are waiting to hear from include (but are not limited to) former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, celebrity business mogul Donald Trump, and Minnesota Representative Michelle Bachmann. On the flip side, there are also candidates who are unlikely to win but have already declared they are running and they include former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, former Speaker Newt Gingrich, and Minnesota Senator Tim Pawlenty.
When you look at the early polling data, there is a clear cut field of candidates who immediately rise to the top. According to a poll conducted by Bernett Research (http://www.bernett.com/Bernett-Marketing-Research-Blog/bid/45435/New-Poll-Data-For-Presidential-2012) Governor Huckabee leads the Republican field with 22% of the vote, followed by Governor Romney at 18%, Speaker Gingrich at 14%, and Governor Palin at 11%. These are the top four candidates in one of the first states, and the Iowa Caucus is considered one of the most important steps to the White House. What is significant about this polling data is that the first and fourth place candidates in 2012 have not officially declared that they are running.
When you look at the larger, national picture for these candidates the picture becomes a little more clear. According to the most recent poll performed by Gallup.com, the Republican presidential candidate most likely to win the nomination right now is Governor Huckabee with 19% of the vote. Following the Governor are Mitt Romney (15%), Sarah Palin (12%), Newt Gingrich (10%), and Ryan Paul (6%). The thing to keep in perspective here is that Governor Huckabee has not yet declared that he is running while Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have. It is significant that their numbers are below Huckabee's despite the fact that he has yet to truly get a campaign off the ground, both in the pivotal state of Iowa as well as nationwide.
It would be premature to hand the nomination over to Mike Huckabee as there are a myriad of other considerations to take into account. As candidates bow out of contention they will endorse other candidates. If Haley Barbour were to enter the race, there is a chance that he may take some of Mike Huckabee's support in the South. If Rick Santorum were to bow out of the race and place his support firmly behind Newt Gingrich then it is not hard to imagine that Gingrich's stock will rise as he garners more voters.
What the Republican party so desperately needs is a nominee who will unite the party and provide the Republicans with the best opportunity to defeat Barack Obama in the November election. What each candidate should decide on their own is this: which of us gives our party the best chance to re-take the White House in 2012. Whether or not these men and women are noble enough to do so remains to be seen. Based on the current polling data it is hard to imagine someone other than these top four headlining the ticket next August. Stay tuned, the next sixteen months are going to be fun.