PPP poll: Romney polls best with "swing voters" among top GOP contenders

At last, an explanation for the McCain endorsement?

Our national poll last week found that 37% of voters were definitely planning to go Republican this year and 34% were definitely planning to support Democrats- that leaves 29% of the electorate up for grabs- who are those swing voters?

The voters who will determine the balance of control for the next Congress are a pretty Democratic leaning group- 62% voted for Barack Obama last year while 36% voted for John McCain. They only approve of Obama by a 52/37 margin though. The fact that his disapproval and the support McCain received from them is basically the same indicates that Obama hasn’t really lost any of these voters yet. But the drop from 62% who voted for him to 52% who now approve of him does suggest a lot of them haven’t really decided whether they think he’s a good President or not…

Although this has little immediate relevance the divide between how these voters see Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee vs. Sarah Palin is pretty remarkable. Romney has a positive 39/24 favorability spread and Huckabee’s is 32/22. But Palin’s is 27/57! Republican candidates are going to be a lot better off coming across as Romney like than Palinesque this fall.

I’m having a hard time squaring that 62/36 split for Obama in 2008 among this year’s “swing voters” with the alarms being sounded about a Republican tsunami. Granted, the group may lean Democratic only slightly, but if they’re the deciding factor in the midterms and Obama has a +15 approval rating among them even now, how “slight” can it be? And how can that translate into things looking as grim for the Dems as they currently do? If you believe PPP, a Democrat like Kendrick Meek should be reasonably tight with Crist and, especially, Rubio in a purple state like Florida. The actual numbers: Crist 48, Meek 32, and Rubio 51, Meek 31. The “Palinesque” candidate, who’s on his way to a romp in the primary, actually fares better in a swing state than a center-right incumbent. Go figure.

That said, as counterintuitive as it may seem, the guy who got creamed by Obama two years ago among swing voters may retain a certain mavericky brand cachet with them. If centrists are as down on a “true conservative” like Palin as PPP claims, then the best way to signal to them that you’re not like her may be to snuggle up to — irony of ironies — her running mate. This is going to be a weird, weird race. Exit question: Is Sarahcuda the new … Jesse Jackson? Charismatic! Pure! And, maybe, unelectable?

Update: Hmmmmmmmmm.