I post their dopey match-up poll every month, and every month — unfailingly — it’s Huckabee who does best against The One.

Until now.

After trailing in one of the hypothetical match ups on our monthly 2012 poll for the first timein January, Obama is back ahead of all the potential 2012 hopefuls. He’s up 45-43 on Mitt Romney, 46-43 on Mike Huckabee, 50-43 on Sarah Palin, and 46-28 on John Thune.

For Romney this is his first time flying solo as the closest Republican to Obama. In the previous ten polls Huckabee was the closest nine times and the tenth was a tie between Huckabee and Romney. The former Massachusetts Governor fares the best of the GOP contenders among independents, leading Obama 43-38…

Palin continues to be the weakest of the leading trio of Republicans. Where Romney and Huckabee hold small leads with independents she trails by 10 points. She also loses 14% of the Republican vote to Obama compared to only 10% for Romney and 11% for Huckabee.

I have no explanation for Mitt’s surge (or is it Huck’s decline?) except that, the more ObamaCare recedes as the burning policy issue of the day, the more RomneyCare fades as a burning policy issue in the minds of conservatives. Which is to say, the Democrats aren’t the only ones desperate to put health care in the rearview mirror. As for Sarahcuda, she’s a point closer to Obama than she was last month, but 34 percent of voters think she’s too conservative compared to 22 percent for Mitt and 24 percent for Huck. As always in these polls, a big part of that difference is name recognition: Undecideds simply don’t realize yet how conservative Romney and Huckabee are, and once they do, those numbers will even out. But this, needless to say, is more problematic:

palin-q

That’s not as bad as those gruesome ABC/WaPo numbers from last week — in fact, PPP found that 22 percent of those who say she’s unqualified would still vote for her over Captain B+ — but there’s less time to turn those numbers around than you may think. The primary campaign will start rolling a year from now and should be in full swing in about 16 months. Palin’s got a sweet platform at Fox News to show off some policy knowledge before then, but images don’t change overnight. If she’s thinking of running, time’s a-wasting.

One other footnote worth mentioning, if only for Chris Matthews’s sake. Despite what the MSNBC crowd would have you believe about Palin being some sort of white icon, she actually polls worse among whites head to head with Obama than Huck and Mitt do. Obama/Palin split 41/51 versus 33/53 for Obama/Romney and 36/53 for Obama/Huckabee. So much for that narrative.