Mitch Daniels will not run for president in 2012, and early polling showed he would have had a long way to go in introducing himself, as he appeared to be virtually unknown to Republican primary voters.
The latest major survey of the GOP race, conducted by Suffolk University May 10-17, placed Daniels in eighth:
Candidate Percent Mitt Romney 20 Sarah Palin 12 Newt Gingrich 9 Rudy Giuliani 7 Ron Paul 5 Michele Bachmann 4 Herman Cain 4 Mitch Daniels 4 Tim Pawlenty 3 RIch Santorum 3
The next most recent major poll, conduced by CNN April 29 - May 1, also placed him eighth in a prospected field that included Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump, both of whom have since announced they're not running:
Candidate Percent Mike Huckabee 16 Donald Trump 14 Mitt Romney 13 Sarah Palin 11 Newt Gingrich 10 Ron Paul 10 Michele Bachmann 5 Mitch Daniels 5 Tim Pawlenty 3 Rick Santorum 2 Jon Huntsman 1
Despite his lack of national traction, Daniels remained a favorite of pundits on the left and right. Apoplectic about the state of the 2012 Republican field, Time's liberal columnist Joe Klein cast Daniels as a serious person amid a bunch of lunatics: "And so I plead, as an unflinching American patriot -- please Mitch Daniels, please Jeb Bush, please run. I may not agree with you on most things, but I respect you. And you seem to respect yourselves enough not to behave like public clowns."
As a potential 2012 candidate, Daniels was emblematic of a mismatch between the Beltway and the rest of the country, probably a symptom of our distant proximity from November 2012. Daniels was the candidate that insiders and close followers of presidential politics thought the Republican Party needed, or thought would be formidable once the 2012 campaign actually kicked into gear -- while nobody else outside of Indiana seemed to know who he was.