Public Policy Polling has a new poll out pitting President Obama against four potential competitors in a series of 2012 general election trial heats. Among the four Republicans, Mike Huckabee polled the best against Obama and was the only match-up where the president was under the fifty percent support mark. Here are the results from PPP's national survey of 686 voters over the weekend (April 17-19):
Obama - 49%
Huckabee - 42%
Not Sure - 9%
Obama - 52%
Gingrich - 39%
Not Sure - 9%
Obama - 53%
Palin - 41%
Not Sure - 6%
Obama - 50%
Romney - 39%
Not Sure - 11%
Let me add a couple of notes here:
1) This poll, like PPP's 2012 poll in March surveyed less than 700 respondents. Again, for a national survey you'd prefer 1000 responses, but beggars can't be choosers for 2012 polling data this far in advance. I'm sure the good folks at PPP would rationalize the number since it is based on voters and not the population at-large.
2) Palin improved her share while Obama's share dropped when compared to the previous poll. Not to diminish how well the Alaska governor stacks up against Obama, but this poll was done on the heels of Palin's appearance at and subsequent news coverage of the Right to Life Dinner last week in Evansville. Still, knocking eight points off the president's advantage over her in a month's time isn't too shabby.
3) The unsures also aren't all that surprising. I think it is safe to say that Palin is in Hillary Clinton territory now: People either like her or they don't, but they do know (or think they know) about her and have an opinion. That's a situation where the "don't knows" drop. The differences aren't great across all four candidates on the not sures, but I was still surprised that Mitt Romney was bringing up the rear. That's both a good and bad thing for the former Massachusetts governor. Good because his number is likely to increase (as would anyone's) upon entering the race, but bad because some of those unsures are also likely to go to Obama (already at the 50% mark).
4) The unsures on the favorable/unfavorable for each of the Republicans is also worth looking at. Palin is the only one of the four to have a not sure percentage in the single digits. The other three Republicans have not sures on that measure of 20 or more percentage points. That's pretty significant.
Still, Mike Huckabee does the best against Obama. That's certainly news to me. News I'm hard-pressed to figure out. My conception of the GOP field broadly was that Huckabee and Palin occupied a similar, though not identical, area: similar on social issues, but different on economic matters. But now that I've typed that out, I get a sense potentially of why Huckabee did better against Obama than the other three. In the midst of a time when the role of the federal government on a host of issues is increasing, Huckabee is the Republican answer. And if the US is going in that direction, "why not have one of our own in charge of it," might be the Republican thinking. Of course, the argument could be made that George W. Bush was that type of president and some Republicans weren't particularly thrilled with the expansion of government under the Bush administration.
Then again, I could be reading way too much into a poll concerning a race that is still three years away. Interesting results, though.
Hat tip to GOP12 for the poll link.
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