Poll: Obama 45, Romney 41; Update: 54% think Obama will lose in 2012

Believe it or not, this may end up being Romney’s best argument in the primaries. Electability, pure and simple. Sure, he’ll do what he can to salve the wound that RomneyCare has left on his campaign, but that scar will be with him forever now. The difference in places like New Hampshire and Florida won’t be his posturing about repealing O-Care; potentially, it’ll be the fact that Mitt, perhaps alone among major Republican figures, stands a chance at beating The One. People will shudder at me saying that since that was also the argument for McCain, but the landscape in two years will be different from 2008. Come 2012, conservatives will be so frantic to stop Obama that electability really might be enough, RomneyCare or not.

Emphasis on “might.”

Romney is the clear leader of the GOP field. He holds support from 29% of the 415 GOPers and GOP leaners included in the poll, 10 points ahead of Huckabee and 11 points up on Palin. Gingrich clocks in at 13% with Bush at 8%. Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and IN Gov. Mitch Daniels each earn 1%.

GOPers also see Romney as one of the party’s top spokespeople. When asked to name the party’s major spokesperson, 14% settled on Romney while 14% came up with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). Gingrich finished at 10%, just ahead of conservative talkers Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, at 9%.

The topline numbers: Obama leads Mitt by four, Huckabee by eight, Gingrich and Jeb Bush by 12, and Palin by … 18. Not enough primary look-ahead fun for you? Well, here’s what the DNC put out yesterday in order to provide a little political cover for the individual mandate. Don’t fixate on the spot’s pedigree; you’ll be seeing attack ads just like this from Republicans against Romney come next year. I take his basic point — the mandate is a way to address an inefficiency in the market by eliminating free-riders — but to paint a coercive policy enforced by new IRS hires as a “conservative solution” will be an awfully tough sell two years from now. In fact, compare and contrast this Mitt highlight reel with the clip of Obama dumping on Hillary’s mandate during the Democratic primaries. Who sounds more conservative, soundbite for soundbite?

Update: Minutes after I posted this, CNN came out with a new poll of its own: Romney 22, Palin 18, Huckabee 17. You’ll find a fun detail below, although I’d advise not reading too much into it. As of January 1995, 65 percent thought Clinton would lose his reelection bid.