TPM News

Iowans handed Mike Huckabee a crucial win in the 2008 Republican caucus, and so far they seem ready to do that same for him in 2012, according to a new PPP poll.

In the poll, Huckabee held a commanding 12-point lead over his closest competitor, Mitt Romney. Thirty percent of respondents said Huckabee was their first choice for the party nod, while 18% said Romney was their guy. In addition, 15% said they backed Sarah Palin, and 13% supported Newt Gingrich. None of the other candidates polled by PPP--Ron Paul (6%), Tim Pawlenty (4%), John Thune (3%), and Mitch Daniels (1%)--posted double digit support.

An additional 10% of respondents said they were undecided, or planned to vote for a candidate not offered in the poll.

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Senator John Ensign (R-NV) may be ready to run for office again, but his own party's voters may be ready for someone new. In a PPP poll released today, Ensign gets no love from Republican voters, 41% of whom said he shouldn't even run for reelection, versus a marginally better 42% who say he should run again.

In hypothetical primary matchups, Ensign's reelection prospects look even grimmer. Among the seven candidates posited in the poll, Ensign came in second at 20%, 10 points behind Rep. Dean Heller's 30%, but well within striking distance for the other contenders in the crowded field. Rounding out the top five were two failed candidates for the party's 2010 Senate nomination, Sue Lowden (12%) and Danny Tarkanian (10%), and the GOP Senate nominee, Sharron Angle (9%.)

Also troubling for Ensign, he fared even worse in a one-on-one contest with Heller, trailing in that mathcup 52% to 34%.

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The shakeup continues in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's press shop.

Regan LaChapelle, who served as Reid's Deputy Communications Director, will be clearing out this week, she told reporters in the Senate press gallery this afternoon.

Her move follows the departures of Jim Manley, Reid's chief spokesman, and Rodell Mollineau, who served as staff director.

LaChapelle is leaving to run the press shop at the Millenium Challenge Corporation.

The Democrats' communications program is in the midst of being overhauled. After the November midterm, Reid appointed Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to run media outreach for the Dems. Jon Summers is Reid's new chief spokesman, and Schumer flack Brian Fallon has taken over messaging duties for the Democratic caucus.

Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who just became chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, says he will not widen the scope of his hearings on "Muslim radicalization" to include non-Muslim extremists.

The ranking member of the committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), had, in the wake of the Tucson shootings, called for King to expand his investigation to non-Muslim extremism as well.

King declined, according to Newsday, saying the shootings in Arizona are besides the point.

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