“President Obama would deliver a shellacking to a generic Republican candidate if 2012’s presidential election were held today, a new poll found Wednesday.

“Forty-seven percent of registered voters said they would choose to reelect Obama, compared to 35 percent who would prefer an unnamed Republican candidate, while 16 percent were undecided, a Pew Research Center poll found.

“That puts Obama at basically the same position as President George W. Bush at a similar point in his presidency, and a stronger standing than President Clinton held in March of 1995.”

***
“Only a few months into his political career, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is considering a presidential bid.

“‘Rand would not run if his dad’s running,’ said Jesse Benton, political director for Paul’s father, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). ‘But if his dad doesn’t run and he fails to see a viable candidate or candidates in the Republican field, that are serious about debt spending and the budget crisis facing our country, then he will be very tempted to weigh his options.’

“He’s been visiting the key primary states of Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire, giving speeches and meeting with local Republican leaders — a largely under the radar effort because, until now, no one thought the newly elected senator would seriously consider the race.”

***
“While it’s hard to envision Paul actually winning the GOP nod, improving on his father’s performance in the 2008 primaries seems entirely possible. Ron Paul finished fifth in Iowa with 9 percent and fifth in New Hampshire with 8 percent, then became a media afterthought. Given that he began the campaign with no money, no name recognition and no expectations, this represented a remarkable showing; he ended up beating Rudy Giuliani — the early GOP front-runner — in nearly every state in which they both competed. But it was also something of a disappointment, given the tens of millions of dollars Paul was able to raise and the free media he attracted. The New Hampshire GOP electorate, with its fierce libertarian bent, seemed a particularly promising audience for his message, and his campaign had hoped to break through with a much stronger performance there.

“Rand Paul could potentially deliver such a performance. In a crowded field likely to underwhelm the GOP base, it’s not hard to imagine Paul — with his brash style and message of absolute ideological purity — standing out in debates and winning over more Republican voters than his father, who still struggles with basic television skills. The best-case scenario for Paul would probably be replicating what Pat Buchanan achieved in 1996: a surprisingly strong showing in Iowa (he nabbed 23 percent, good for second place), followed by a startling win (with just 29 percent of the vote) in New Hampshire — at which point a panicked GOP establishment rallied around the strongest non-Buchanan candidate (Bob Dole) and denied him the nomination.”

***
“During a Q-and-A session, he was asked about his January comments on CNN that he’d be tempted to run if Palin were a candidate. Giuliani called that remark ‘rash.’ But he said his fears of the GOP choosing a nominee who can’t win a general election might prompt him to run.

“‘If all we are faced with are candidates that are too far right so that they can’t win the general election, then that’s when I’d reconsider doing it,’ Giuliani said.

“‘Do not underestimate Barack Obama. He is a very ineffective president but a very effective politician,’ Giuliani said. Obama can win a second term ‘if we put up a candidate that he can isolate as a right-wing candidate, too far-right.’

***
“Part of Romney’s popularity among Tea Partyers is simply a product of the fact that he’s well liked among all Republicans; 21% in this survey say they’d like him to be the candidate. It’s early enough that all polling should be taken pretty lightly and Romney is certainly benefiting from high name recognition across the board. But it’s notable that he actually performs a bit better among self-identified Tea Party members than with the party overall. There are a few explanations for this. Romney does especially well with older and wealthier Republicans, two characteristics polling suggests is common in the Tea Party. Related to affluence, Tea Partyers are also on average better educated, and they may be identifying with Romney as an Ivy Leaguer.”

***
Click the image to watch.