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Survey: Support for Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee tilts toward less educated, lower incomes; Mitt Romney's backing is more upscale

May 09, 2011|By Michael Muskal | Los Angeles Times

The less educated and those earning fewer dollars tend to favor the more conservative Republican presidential contenders, such as Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin, while Mitt Romney draws his support from those with more education and income, according to Gallup data and analysis released on Monday.

The data also paint a picture of a GOP presidential field that currently is populated by essentially regional voices -- favorite sons and daughters who do best in their own backyards but have failed so far to excite those elsewhere.

The biggest exception is Palin, who has waged a national campaign as the GOP's vice presidential candidate and has arguably been the most visible on the national stage because of her subsequent work on television and the lecture circuit. Her support is about evenly spread geographically and evenly divided ideologically between those Republicans calling themselves conservatives and those seeing themselves as liberal/moderates.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul also crosses ideological lines, being equally likely to win backing from either wing of the party, with about evenly divided support geographically. His standing is aided by his credentials as a libertarian, which has political echoes on the left and the right, and by the national platform that comes from his position as the father of the libertarian wing of his party.

But his overall numbers remain small, putting him at the top of the second tier of candidates.

The Gallup numbers show some of the divides that any GOP national ticket would have to bridge to run a successful campaign. Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, is strong in the East, drawing 20% of his support from that region and a similar amount from the West, where he well known. He gets 21% of his overall support from those who say they earn more than $90,000 a year, and 21% of his supporters say they are college graduates, a not-so-surprising connection since education strongly correlates with income.

By contrast, Huckabee's supporters are slightly less likely to be college graduates (19% non-graduates versus 17% graduates), and the largest income group among his supporters is those earning $24,000 to $59,000 a year, 22%. The former governor of Arkansas finds his biggest base in the South, with 24%, but he also backing in the Midwest, parts of which are somewhat culturally similar and where 20% of his supporters say they live.

The person with the biggest gap between college graduates and non-college graduates is Palin, at 9% compared with 16%. The largest income group among her supporters, 22%, say they earn less than $24,000 a year.

The data are an aggregate of three national Gallup surveys -- in February, March and April -- and include 3,304 Republicans. The margin of error for the full sample is plus or minus 2 percentage points.

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