A new poll from Fox News contains a wealth of fascinating results, but I have to agree with Dave Weigel that the most eye-catching is the fact that Republican primary voters most trust Newt Gingrich to carry the nuclear football, and by a wide margin over his rivals. Gingrich tops closest competitor Mitt Romney 30%-17% for nuclear trustworthiness, but the existence of this question in a field that includes Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann is, itself, a chilling prospect.
Republican voters also said they least trust Ron Paul with nukes, at 12%, edging out Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain (it’ll be easy for our enemies to hack us when he changes all of the launch codes to “9-9-9”). Rick Perry was in the middle of the pack for both questions, probably because he can be trusted to at least launch the first two.
Gingrich also topped Romney by a point in the Republican primary poll (23%-22%), but came in a distant fourth in likeability at 8%, behind Romney at 26%, Cain at 25%, and Perry at 9%.
On the question of integrity, Romney far outdistanced Gingrich. 55% said Romney has the integrity to serve effectively as president, versus 45% for Gingrich, and this poll was taken before the latest revelations about Gingrich’s relationship with Freddie Mac.
There’s some troubling news in this poll for President Obama, as well. In head-to-head polling, Mitt Romney edged the President, 44%-42%. While Obama beats Herman Cain handily, he only leads Gingrich 46%-41%, within the margin of error. Given Newt’s status as a newcomer to the top tier, that kind of result is disturbing. Although Gingrich’s time at the top might be fleeting, these head-to-head results demonstrate the President’s vulnerability in a general election.
The least surprising result from this poll, however, is also probably the most significant one. Asked “Which Republican candidate do you think has the best chance of beating Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election?”, 37% chose Romney, with Newt Gingrich a distant second, at 18%.
Romney has taken a beating from all sides over Republican voters’ lack of enthusiasm for his candidacy, but this stat reinforces the strongest case for his candidacy, and it hasn’t changed in months. Regardless of who voters like, or who they trust with nukes, in the end, they’re going to choose the guy with the best chance to unseat President Obama.
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