The Republican polls mean nothing today. Romney, Cain, Bachman, these names all bounce around different polls like ping pong balls in a lotto machine. But until we know for sure about two individuals, the polls mean nothing.
Rick Perry. Sarah Palin.
These are your heavyweight contenders, even though Palin's name often gets tossed into the polls now despite not having announced.
Simply being governor of Texas makes Perry a factor. His state is prospering relative to the rest of the nation. Texas has to deal with border issues, the EPA's maniacal war on nartural resources, and has taken on the Department of Education's incompetence. He has been an effective anti-Obama.
Sarah Palin has tremendous weight and resources that have not been fully applied as of yet. No one has the name recognition of Palin, for better or worse. It is not even a question now of whether or not she will run, considering her blitz on television and motion pictures. She and Perry both have placed themselves on the moderate edge of the Tea Party/libertarian movements in that their candidacies will be palatable to traditional Republicans and the newer movements.
Palin's advantage in a general election is that she will attract "history" voters in the way Obama did in 2008. A lot of folks have no problem with a woman in the White House and will support one to be a part of history.
Once these two heavyweights jump into the fray, I predict that they will dominate the show. Both have experience and enough media savvy to hold off on their official announcements. I would say that at the end of the day, we will see Palin as nominee and Perry as the running mate.