Thursday, September 24, 2009

2012 Presidential Trial Heats: PPP (Sept. '09)

Let's have a glance at those Public Policy Polling 2012 presidential trial heat numbers from earlier but add in the graphics to give us some context.

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Obama: 50%
Bush: 37%
Undecided: 13%
Obviously, there is no over time element to the Obama/Bush numbers, but FHQ felt compelled to add some sort of graphic to accompany the former Florida governor's numbers against the president. Other than that, there isn't that much more to say about this head-to-head match up. We will say this, though: Jeb Bush filled in and probably closely matched where Newt Gingrich would have been relative to Obama had the former Speaker been included in the poll this month (both in terms of the numbers and in terms of relative order of the Republican candidates). Still, it was nice to see another name in the mix.

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Obama: 48%
Huckabee: 41%
Undecided: 11%
It is hard to look at Huckabee's numbers against Obama this year and wonder which recent poll is the anomaly. The former Arkansas governor peaked in last month's PPP poll and then bottomed out in the Clarus Research Group poll in the field almost simultaneously. If you split the difference between those two August polls, you end up with Huckabee at around where he is in September; still trailing Obama but performing better than the other Republicans.

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Obama: 53%
Palin: 38%
Undecided: 9%
July was a good month for Sarah Palin, but since actually leaving office in the Last Frontier, the 2008 Republican VP nominee has slid in the polls; not just in these 2012 trial heats but in other national polls gauging respondents' perceptions of her favorability. This month is no different, though she is in a better position in the PPP polls versus the aforementioned Clarus poll or the August Marist poll. It seems as if Palin was in a better position when people were talking about her leaving office in Juneau rather than her actually doing it.

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Obama: 48%
Romney: 39%
Undecided: 13%
Finally, Mitt Romney continues to minimize Barack Obama's reach while simultaneously underperforming Mike Huckabee. Throughout much of the year's polling, Romney has been able to keep Obama under the 50% mark (as has Huckabee), but has struggled to break 40% himself (unlike Huckabee). Republicans (in these polls) just seem more comfortable with Huckabee than Romney at this point.

Tom Jensen at PPP speculated that much of the difference in this month's results against August's is attributable to the inclusion of Bush in the poll ( This seems an ideal explanation on its face considering the partisan breakdown underlying both polls was largely similar). The candidates have in the past been listed and tested against Obama alphabetically and that meant that instead of Gingrich being first this month, Bush was. In other words, respondents may have been primed because of Jeb's inclusion to consider the most recent Bush administration when thinking about the general election race in 2012. That ends up being a nice recipe for getting similar results to the electoral outcome from last November.

Obviously, Huckabee continues to fare the best against President Obama in these PPP poll, while Mitt Romney lags in terms of favorability and overall support. The gap between the two is particularly surprising given that both have been rather tightly clustered in the 2012 primary polling that has been done. Again, though, this has been a consistent theme in PPP's 2012 trial heat polling since April.

The other theme that has consistently run throughout PPP's and other polls is that a potential Sarah Palin candidacy does nothing to neutralize the typical (though variable) advantage Democrats have among women. In fact, her male counterparts continue to do better among women nationally than does Palin. But that gap is pretty narrow at this point between the former Alaska governor and Jeb Bush.

One last thing to look at is the candidates' abilities to retain their parties' voters from the 2008 election. In this poll Obama held onto 90% of his 2008 voters, while all four Republicans were only able to keep about three-quarters of 2008 McCain voters. [Huckabee is the exception. He kept 80% of McCain's voters.] Of course, if there was some certainty behind the identity of the Republican nominee for 2012, I suspect that McCain voter retention rate would be higher.

Recent Posts:
PPP 2012 Presidential Poll: Huckabee Still Does Best, but All GOP Candidates Drop Off Against Obama

Tracking Pawlenty for 2012

FHQ Reading Room (9/23/09)

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