Rasmussen: Obama 45, Romney 45; Obama 48, Palin 42

This says more about the downturn in The One’s approval ratings than it does about Mitt or Sarahcuda, but you know the Hot Air policy: You can never have too many 2012 polls.

Just 21% of voters nationwide say Palin should run as an independent if she loses the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. Sixty-three percent (63%) say the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee should not run as an independent. Sixteen percent (16%) are not sure.

If Romney secured the GOP nomination and Palin chose to run as an independent candidate, Obama would win the resulting three-way race with 44% of the vote. Romney is the choice of 33% of the voters under that scenario, with Palin a distant third with 16% support. Three percent (3%) like some other candidate, and four percent (4%) are undecided…

When Romney is the Republican nominee, he beats Obama among unaffiliated voters 48% to 41%. But when Palin is the GOP candidate, unaffiliated voters prefer Obama by a 47% to 41% margin…

In a three-way race, Palin hurts Romney by drawing 28% Republican support. Romney captures 52% of the GOP vote in that scenario.

Lest anyone doubt how overwhelming Palin’s support is among the HA readership, compare those boldfaced numbers to the results of our own poll last Monday. We love you guys, but in case it wasn’t clear from last year’s primaries, a mirror image of Republican voters you ain’t.

Question: Why didn’t Rasmussen poll Obama vs. Huckabee? Public Policy Polling has its own set of 2012 hypothetical match-ups out today and Huck fares best among the big three, trailing The One by six points — the fourth time in as many PPP polls that he’s been Obama’s toughest challenge. Palin trails by eight and Romney by nine (despite doing relatively well with black voters). The most interesting detail comes from another PPP poll taken last week, though: Contrary to expectations, Palin is viewed favorably by 86 percent of Republican voters in the northeast, fully 10 points higher than she is in the south. I’m not sure what explains that — maybe the Republican base in New England has now shrunk to a Hot-Air-ish molten red core so that, paradoxically, “true conservatives” fare better up there than RINOs (see, e.g., Toomey and Specter in Pennsylvania) — but needless to say, it could mean trouble for Romney. If Palin does run, it’s easy to imagine her leveraging evangelicals to squeak through in Iowa; an upset in New Hampshire immediately after that would make her the prohibitive favorite. Expect Team Mitt to work quietly behind the scenes between now and then to make sure as many GOP primaries as possible are open ones.

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