The Upshot

Pawlenty’s 2012 ambitions get him in trouble at home

Holly Bailey
The Upshot

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Eyeing a 2012 presidential run, Minnesota GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty has spent the summer traveling to key primary states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, trying to build up his name recognition. But his ambitions may have gotten him in trouble in his own backyard.

A Minnesota Public Radio/Humphrey Institute poll finds that a majority of likely Minnesota voters — 54 percent -- are peeved at Pawlenty's frequent out-of-state travel. Among Republicans alone, 46 percent say they are fine with Pawlenty's politicking, but 37 percent say they are opposed — a surprising number for a governor who has largely been considered popular with his own party.

In fact, Pawlenty's bid to win over voters in other states may be costing him support at home among all parties. Just 37 percent of likely Minnesota voters said they would support his presidential bid, while 53 percent said no way. By comparison, 45 percent said they would support a bid by Mitt Romney.

The good news for Pawlenty: He handily beats a Sarah Palin bid, 59 percent to 24 percent — though that's among all voters, not just registered Republicans.

The MPR/Humphrey survey gauged Pawlenty's support among GOP voters for 2012—68 percent say they would vote for him—but it didn't include hypothetical match-ups between the governor, Romney and Palin among Republicans, which would have been more far more telling in what is shaping up to be a packed GOP primary field.

Still, viewed in the bigger picture, these early numbers should be more than a little sobering for Pawlenty . In his final months in office—his term ends in January--Pawlenty's popularity is fading, and it's never a good sign if a presidential candidate has to worry about winning his or her own home state.

(Photo of Pawlenty at the Iowa State Fair by Steve Pope/Getty Images)

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