Gallup: Obama only up 2 over generic GOP candidate

posted at 11:36 am on February 11, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

The era of Hope and Change may have given way to the era of Who’s Next?  Gallup reports that just a little over a year into his presidency, Barack Obama has not only failed to unite the country, but has almost squandered his own electability.  In their latest poll, Gallup finds Obama in a virtual tie with a generic Republican candidate, and the internals point to a much different turnout model than 2008:

Registered voters are about equally divided as to whether they would more likely vote to re-elect Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election, or vote for the Republican candidate.

These results are based on a Feb. 1-3 Gallup poll. Forty-four percent of U.S. registered voters say they are more likely to vote for Obama, 42% for the Republican candidate, and the remaining 14% are undecided or would vote for another candidate.

A year into his first term as president, Obama’s approval ratings are hovering around 50%. The 50% approval figure has been a strong predictor of an incumbent president’s re-election: presidents who averaged 50% or better from January of an election year through Election Day have all been re-elected. This includes George W. Bush, who averaged 51% in 2004, though his approval rating was 48% in Gallup’s final pre-election poll.

The influence of Obama’s personal likability appears to be influencing job approval.  The difference between that and the percentage who would vote for his re-election is six points, which is outside the margin of error.  Clearly, some people “approve” of Obama while disliking his performance enough to vote for an unnamed Republican challenger, at least at this point — and that’s something to keep in mind when looking at approval ratings in other polls, especially those based on likely voters.

That doesn’t tell the entire story, however.  Obama won office by getting a majority of independents and some Republicans to vote for him, while getting a turnout that greatly favored Democrats in 2008.  In this poll, only 31% of independents would cast a vote for Obama today, while 45% say they will vote for a Republican alternative.  That fourteen-point gap also tells a story about how turnout will go for Obama in 2012.  It may not be as dramatic as Massachusetts in their special election last month, but Obama is clearly not going to excite those new participants into the polls as he did in 2008.  If anything, it looks like opposition will drive the independent vote, and Obama supporters perhaps unmotivated to show up at all.

Which Republican do Gallup respondents see in that position?  The top five in order are Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, John McCain (?), Scott Brown, and Mike Huckabee.  Bobby Jindal and Tim Pawlenty also appear on the list, as does Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, but 42% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents offered no name at all.  Romney, topping the list, only got 14% of respondents to name him (unprompted).  The field appears to be wide open, and voters appear to be open to a wide variety of candidates to challenge Obama for the White House — and that’s not a sign that Obama is impressing anyone with his performance thus far.

Addendum: John McCain?  He got 7%, just behind his former running mate, who got 11%.


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Comment pages: 1 2

Solid B+

fossten on February 11, 2010 at 3:38 PM

Christian Conservative on February 11, 2010 at 3:14 PM

Congratulations on completely missing the point of my comment.

Proud Rino on February 11, 2010 at 2:19 PM

Proud Rino on February 11, 2010 at 3:51 PM

This is from Gallup, who still shows Obama with 50% approval, while Rasmussen shows him with only 46% approval.

In a more balanced sample, ABO (Anybody But Obama) would be in the lead.

By 2012, we’ll have to put a name to ABO, but that’s what primaries are for. After another three years of Obama, things will be so FUBAR that ABO will win a landslide.

Steve Z on February 11, 2010 at 5:10 PM

McCain can fantasize now . . . all he has to do is write in his own name and he can pretend he’d win a rematch election. That toadstool never had the fire in his belly to win the first time.

kens on February 11, 2010 at 7:33 PM

No link?

artist on February 11, 2010 at 11:46 AM

I noticed that there was no link to the article either.

Here’s the article if anyone wants to read it.

Most Republican poll respondents, 42 percent, said they had not decided who they would like to see as the party’s 2012 presidential nominee. But 14 percent mentioned former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who ran in 2008, and 11 percent cited former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Although 42% are not sure or open minded about who they would like to see for 2012, it makes me happy that Romney was the name that people mentioned the most for 2012.

As for Romney running center, I don’t think moving center is equivalent to flip flopping.

Romney’s book comes out next month and I think we’ll all be interested in what he has to say.

Conservative Samizdat on February 11, 2010 at 7:56 PM

The poll showing Obama with only a two-point lead over “Generic Republican” is welcome, but it isn’t that favorable for us, since the “Republican Candidate” is essentially a blank slate for an individual’s ideal nominee.

“The Republican Candidate” is awesome. He’s the reasonable fifty-something military veteran businessman with the perfect telegenic family, eight or so years of unambiguously accomplished service in statewide office, and no skeletons in his closet. And he agrees with you on abortion, immigration policy and welfare reform (or two of the three at least.)

With specific candidates, there will usually be negatives, which will cost votes. Romney’s the wealthy Mormon flipflopper. Palin served less than three years as the Governor of the 47th most populated state before quitting. John Thune has been in politics all his life, and he was a lobbyist between Senate bids. Mike Huckabee doesn’t believe in evolution. etc.

Mister Mets on February 12, 2010 at 8:14 AM

If Obama is up only 2 points over a generic brand, imagine what a brand name can do to clean his political and electoral clock.

kens on February 12, 2010 at 10:59 AM

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