The Washington Post

Poll Watchers: The changing GOP field, New Hampshire primary, Florida warms to Obama, Medicaid and politics

• The changing GOP field – A new Gallup poll finds Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin slightly above the scrum of Republican primary hopefuls in the first national horserace poll since Mike Huckabee, Donald Trump, and Mitch Daniels confirmed their status as non-candidates. Romney garners 17 percent support among Republicans and GOP-leaning independents, while 15 percent support Palin. A slew of other candidates, led by Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich, earn 10 percent support or less. If Palin drops too, Romney separates himself a bit more from the pack.

• New Hampshire primary – A CNN/University of New Hampshire poll released Tuesday finds a wide-open field for the Republican primary at this early stage of the campaign; only 4 percent say they’ve definitely decided who they will vote for and 87 percent say they have “no idea.” When asked which candidate they would vote for today, 32 percent support Romney while no other candidate breaks double digits. Romney leads on several attributes and holds an especially large edge on which candidate has the best chance of beating Barack Obama in 2012 – 42 percent name Romney while no other candidate breaks 5 percent.

• Florida sunshine for President Obama – Obama’s job approval ratings got a bump over the past month, from 44 to 51 percent according to a new poll from Quinnipiac University. Independents in the perennial swing state are now split 47 to 45 percent approve/disapprove. They disapproved of Obama job performance by a 55 to 39 percent margin in early April.

• Medicaid and politics – A poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation released Wednesday finds tepid support for converting Medicaid to a system of block grants to states; 35 percent favor this proposal while 60 percent prefer to keep Medicaid as-is. Seventy-nine percent of Democrats oppose the block grant program, as do 60 percent of independents. Republicans favor changing Medicaid to state grants by a slimmer 57 to 39 percent margin.

Scott Clement is the polling manager at The Washington Post, specializing in public opinion about politics, election campaigns and public policy.
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