No, this is not coming from Rasmussen or an internal GOP poll, but from the normally Democrat-sympathetic Public Policy Polling. PPP pitted Barack Obama against five potential Republican challengers for the 2012 presidential campaign, and the only one Obama beat was … Jan Brewer. Even that, PPP admitted, resulted from Brewer’s lack of name recognition. The headline, though, is Sarah Palin’s dead heat with the President:
With his approval numbers hitting new lows it’s no surprise that Barack Obama’s numbers in our monthly look ahead to the 2012 Presidential race are their worst ever this month. He trails Mitt Romney 46-43, Mike Huckabee 47-45, Newt Gingrich 46-45, and is even tied with Sarah Palin at 46. The only person tested he leads is Jan Brewer, who doesn’t have particularly high name recognition on the national level at this point.
It’s not that any of the Republican candidates are particularly well liked. Only Huckabee has positive favorability numbers at 37/28. Romney’s at 32/33, Gingrich at 32/42, Palin at 37/52, and Brewer at 17/20. But with a majority of Americans now disapproving of Obama it’s no surprise that a large chunk of them would replace him as President if they had that choice today.
There are two things driving these strong poll numbers for the Republican candidates. The first is a lead with independents in every match up. Romney leads 48-35 with them, Gingrich is up 50-39, Huckabee has a 46-40 advantage, Palin’s up 47-42, and even Brewer has a 38-37 edge.
In case one wonders whether PPP’s sample is to blame, the partisan split favors Democrats by five points, 39/34. That’s probably overstating the actual size of the gap and the percentage of Democrats in the general population, which means that the independents got short shrift as well. Also note that this poll surveyed registered voters, not likely voters — a sampling technique that would tend to favor Democrats and Obama a little more.
The news is almost uniformly bad for Obama in the poll. His approval rating is now seriously underwater at 45/52. That gets even worse among independents, 40/56. He doesn’t get above 46% in any matchup with Republicans, not even Jan Brewer, whom he beats 44/36, with 20% undecided.
For Palin, the numbers show she can play against Obama. She pulls 8% of those who voted for Obama in 2008 and 35% of those who “don’t remember” (?!?), which puts her on par for outreach with Gingrich (9%, 40%), Romney (9%, 32%), and slightly better than Huckabee (6%, 32%). If that’s not vindication for those who argued that Palin couldn’t do as well with unaffiliated voters, it’s cetainly something close to it.
Update: There seems to be some confusion in the comments over the number of people who claimed not to remember how they voted in 2008. That was 9% of the respondents in the survey (combined with those who voted third party). Since Obama won the 2008 popular vote by seven points (53/46) and this Dem +5 poll shows only 46% of respondents acknowledging their vote for Obama, I’d say it’s a healthy probability that most of that 9% voted for Obama and don’t want to acknowledge it now. Of that 9%, Palin wins 35%, Gingrich wins 40%, and so on.