Washington (CNN) - Since the midterm elections, at least four national polls in the next race for the White House have been released. But one thing's missing: Candidates.
Last time around, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani formed a presidential exploratory committee in November 2006, with Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore launching exploratory committees the following month. Rep. Duncan Hunter of California didn't even wait for the midterms that year, announcing his first formal steps towards a White House bid in the week before the election.
Fast forward four years and the sense of urgency's very different. While many of the potential contenders for the GOP presidential nomination are very active behind the scenes, and many are making stops in the crucial early voting states, none have taken any formal first steps in the long road to the White House.
"It's a decision I'll make later in the year, next year," said former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, on ABC's "The View" on Monday.
Huckabee, who ran for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination and who is considering another bid for the White House, also told reporters Sunday in Iowa that "Honestly, I'm not on a time table."
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who also ran for his party's presidential nomination last time around and is seriously considering another run, told supporters in a conference call last week that January and February would come and go without any announcement from him.
"People are exhausted from the 2010 election, and they're not anxious to begin right away with the next campaign," said Romney in the conference call, which was first reported nationally by Politico and confirmed by CNN.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who's also considering a bid, says that he's "a few months away" from making a decision and indicates that no announcement would come before late winter or early spring. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour say they'll wait to announce any possible bids until their states' legislative sessions end in the spring. Barbour adds that he's not setting any "artificial deadline."
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia says any decision on a bid for the nomination would come in February or March. And Sen. John Thune of South Dakota doesn't appear to be in any rush either.
And former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who tells the New York Times that she's "engaged in the internal deliberations" of a possible White House bid, has not mentioned any timetable.
So what's behind the glacial pace this time around?
The polls are maybe one reason. National surveys of Republicans indicate that there's no front-runner at this early point in the battle for the GOP nomination. No front-runner means no sense of urgency for potential candidates and campaigns, giving them some breathing room.
And this time around, unlike in the 2008 campaign cycle, many of the potential GOP hopefuls are pretty well known to the public.
"The front runners, if they are indeed the front runners, are all very well known to Republicans: Romney, Huckabee, Gingrich, Palin and Barbour," says Republican strategist Rich Galen, the author of Mullings.com, an on-line column.
"Thune, Daniels, and the others are not as well known. But as long as the first tier candidates are quiet, the second tier-ers can husband their ammunition for now," adds Galen, who advised Fred Thompson during his bid for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination.
Another reason is the calendar itself. The two parties have pushed back the start date of the first contests in the road for the White House. The Iowa caucuses, which kick off the presidential primary season, were held right after New Years in 2008. Next time around they are scheduled to be held in early February, a full month later.
Galen says new technology may also be contributing to the later starting date: "This may be the first presidential cycle in which the new media is fully understood. The need to get to every hamlet in Iowa 13 times before the Ames Straw Poll may not as pressing when you can get followers on Twitter and Fans on Facebook to the same effect."
Add to all this a need to better understand the 2010 midterms' effect on the 2012 race.
Potential candidates and campaigns may want to wait until the debris can be examined from the midterm Tsunami. No one is certain whether that was a one-time wave, or a political-climate-change induced sea level rise," adds Galen.
And finally, a very simple explanation. We're all exhausted from the midterms.
Says Galen: "The media, the candidates, and the voters are all just worn out from a 2010 mid-term election cycle which seems like it started in 1947!"
Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @PsteinhauserCNN