CBS News national poll - mid September 2011 to early January 2012
All polls have to be taken with a grain of salt, but some of them need a whole salt lick. Here is the tracking of the remaining Republican candidates in the CBS News national polls. They have a survey roughly once a month and the numbers show some well documented trends. Rick Perry is in red (for embarrassment) and you can see his steep early slide. Gingrich is in grey (for the color of his hair and the age of his ideas) and you can see his rise in December and fall in January. Santorum is a muddy brown (I'll let you guess why) and we see his big bump in January. Paul in gold (for the gold standard) has gone from 5% to 10% and Huntsman in orange (no reason, it was just a color left over) stays firmly at the bottom of the pack.
And then we have black and blue, which stand for Someone Else and Undecided, respectively. These colors were chosen because they are beating up the field. Undecided is fading as should be expected, but it is still well over 10%, dominating Ron Paul and the second tier candidates. Someone Else, on the other hand, continues to poll strongly.
Here's the thing. The supporters of Cain and Bachmann in earlier polls would now be lumped together as Someone Else, which should inflate those numbers somewhat. (By the first survey in September, Trump and Pawlenty were already just footnotes.) From December to January, Someone Else has lost no strength at all and is tied with Mitt Romney in green (for lots of money) for the lead.
Non news flash: There is no Someone Else! Sorry, Republicans, the ghost of Reagan or the return of Jebus are not on the ballot and the paperwork to get them there is a serious bitch.
As I stated earlier, a grain of salt is not a bad idea in this case. Compared to Gallup's daily tracking, several numbers seem out of date or just plain whack. Even so, if the one-two punch of Someone Else and Undecided are still soaking up a third of Republican voters, that would put Obama's alleged enthusiasm gap to shame.
(p.s. My New Hampshire prediction and the comparison to Nate Silver's numbers will be published later today.)