• GOP 2012 – In opting not to seek the Republican nomination, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and businessman Donald Trump open up a lot of space in the potential GOP field: Together, the two scored no less than a quarter in the latest national polls among GOP primary voters. Around this same time, former House speaker Newt Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) have officially entered the race; their combined polling has been in the 10 to 20 percent range.
Gallup has tracked potential Republican candidates using what it labels a “positive intensity score,” combining name recognition and favorability ratings. Using this metric, Huckabee has been at the very top, Paul in the middle, Gingrich near the bottom and Trump dead last.
Huckabee’s position atop the field may only deepen Republican dissatisfaction with their candidate choices — and amplify the call for new contenders. The latest AP poll finds just 41 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents satisfied with their choices for the nomination. That closely reflects a Washington Post-ABC News poll in April which found 43 percent satisfied. Four years ago, the level of satisfaction among Republicans with their choices of potential 2008 candidates was far higher, at 65 percent, in an April 2007 Post-ABC poll.
• Still No. 1? – A Fox News poll released Monday indicates that an overwhelming 84 percent think the United States is the best place in the world to live. But views of the country’s relative strength are waning: 64 percent say the country is weaker today than it was five years ago. Almost half – 48 percent – see less influence in our relationships with other countries compared to five years ago. Majorities of Republicans and independents see less influence and a weaker country. Democrats are more divided in these views.
• Vacation time – The idea of a “staycation” is not so popular this year. A Gallup poll released Monday shows 61 percent saying that it’s “very”or “somewhat” important to take a vacation away from home this year. Some 20 percent expect to travel more this summer than last summer. Among that group, 71 percent expect to spend more money on transportation than they did last summer, up sharply from 39 percent saying so last year. That dramatic increase may be due to the spike in gas prices. Or it could mean people are planning much grander vacations.