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Late Returns: If Trump Has 'Collapsed,' Where Does That Leave Pawlenty?

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The news today is that it's looking like the Donald Trump boomlet is all but done, with a new round of numbers from Public Policy Polling finding that whatever support he once enjoyed among Republican primary voters has all but "collapsed." But when you look at these numbers, it sure looks to me like the reality teevee host is still stealing focus from even more dire polling news:

Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney are at the top of the GOP race with 19% and 18% respectively. Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin are further back at 13% and 12%, followed by Trump and Paul at 8%, Michele Bachmann at 7%, and Tim Pawlenty at 5%.

Yes, let's note that Ron Paul fans are probably feeling some satisfaction today, as it was their guy that Trump dubbed a "loser" during his Conservative Political Action Conference speech earlier this year. With a minimum of effort, Paul's now level with Trump, and likely to be trending in the opposite direction.

But, wow: Tim Pawlenty is at 5 percent? That's bad news for TPaw, who has worked harder than anyone at this "running for president" game, with next to nothing to show for it. Pawlenty likely hoped that making an appearance at that South Carolina debate would establish him as an electable conservative, but he's best remembered for being made to grovel over his previous support for cap and trade. With Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and Gary Johnson standing onstage giving a loud voice to stances from which they've never wavered, it was a bad look for TPaw.

The best thing Pawlenty could have achieved by now is to have put down his marker as the "next-best Mitt Romney." As it stands, he's not even competing well as an alternative to fellow Minnesotan Michele Bachmann. This means that the people Pawlenty would most like to court are going to continue to cross their fingers for Mitch Daniels.

There's obviously still time to make up ground, but at the moment, Pawlenty is looking like this cycle's Jim Gilmore. At least Donald Trump can lay claim to being more than an afterthought.

* * * * * *

The National Review's Stanley Kurtz really, really wants to help Pawlenty out, though: "Yes, Tim Pawlenty can beat Barack Obama in a head-to-head battle for the presidency of the United States. Wake up, Republicans! The answer to your prayers is already running. And if all the pundits would just stop fantasizing for a minute about everyone who’s not running, maybe they’d pay more attention to who actually is." [The Corner]

Speaking of Michele Bachmann, Polk County GOP co-chair Dave Funk is pretty sure she's going to make a run, with an upcoming appearance at a Polk County GOP fundraiser on May 26 as a potential announcement date. [Daily Caller]

If you do want to make Chris Christie smile on the inside, keep telling him he ought to run for President. He really likes that! [Taegan Goddard's Political Wire]

Jon Stewart did Rick Santorum no favors by bringing up his legendary Google problem last night. This news appears to have also scarred Keira Knightley rather badly [The Note]

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