The 2012 presidential race is under way at the state GOP convention, where conservative commentator and pollster Frank Luntz has just talked to hundreds of people at the convention's luncheon in Sacramento.
While advising Republicans on how to use political language, Luntz conducted an informal applause poll among the crowd on the possible GOP presidential candidates.
Those winning the loudest applause were former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin also received a good amount of applause. Other names such as Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who will address the convention tonight, and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels received less applause.
Luntz, who appears regularly on Fox News, advised Republicans to consolidate their gains from the mid-term elections.
"If you can't be disciplined, then you are doomed to fail," Luntz said. "We have a very skeptical electorate that did not vote Republican in 2010. They voted anti-Democrat."
Luntz said he had asked the luncheon's organizers to close the event to media but had changed his mind and would stick with his original plan.
"It was I who spoke about the desire to have this meeting closed because I wanted to have a frank conversation with the people in this room about the challenges in California and nationwide," Luntz said. "There is nothing the Republican Party has to hide."
Luntz, who said he owns a house in California, also delivered a message to state Republicans resisting Gov. Jerry Brown's push to let voters decide whether to extend about $11 billion in tax increases.
"If Republicans vote to raise taxes, hell hath no fury like a taxpayer scorned," Luntz said. "Don't you dare vote for those taxes."
UPDATE: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie received one the loudest - if not the loudest - rounds of applause in the informal poll. However, Christie has said repeatedly that he won't run for president in 2012.