Marist: Plurality of 43% plan to vote against Obama in 2012

Let’s play White House Spin for a moment with the latest Marist poll on Obama’s re-election prospects.  The poll shows that 43% of voters are planning to vote against Barack Obama in the 2012 elections already, while only 36% have decided to vote for a second Obama term.  It’s actually a slight improvement over the last seven months since the midterms.  He’s still got the possibility of a 14-point win in November 2012 by picking up all of the undecideds!  He can start with the 20% of his own party that hasn’t been convinced of the necessity of an encore:

Looking to 2012, 43% of registered voters nationwide report they plan to vote against President Obama in 2012.  This compares with 36% who say they definitely plan to support him.  A notable 21% are unsure.  Little has changed on this question since McClatchy-Marist last reported it in April. At that time, 44% reported they planned to back someone else while 37% said they planned to vote for the president.  18%, at the time, were unsure.

Independents play a key role in Obama’s re-election bid.  43% say they would vote against Mr. Obama in 2012 while 29% are securely in his corner.  Nearly three in ten independent voters — 28% — are unsure.  The president has failed to make inroads with these all-important voters.  In McClatchy-Marist’s previous survey, 47% of independents reported they would not support the president while 32% said they would cast their ballot for Mr. Obama.  21% were unsure.

While 70% of Democratic voters report they will unequivocally cast their ballot for the president and only 10% say they will vote against him, a notable one in five — 20% — are unsure.  Not surprisingly, most Republicans — 85% — don’t plan on supporting the president while just 4% say they will.  One in ten — 10% — are unsure.

The sample split on this poll leaves something to be desired.  The survey has a D+7 sample, 34/27/38, in which Republicans are significantly underrepresented.  That makes the bad news here for the White House even worse, as a more representative sample would likely show Obama in even worse shape than here.

The demographic breakdowns show significant obstacles to an Obama re-election.  The gap in the South is 32/50, for instance, while the normal Democratic stronghold of the Northeast only gives him a weak 5-point edge, 38/33 with 29% undecided.  Obama does better in the West, 42/36.  He loses white voters by a majority, 31/50, men by 14 points at 31/45, and gets edged among women, 40/41 — a surprising result.  Obama trails in both income categories and both education demos, while only winning a 3-point edge among 18-30YOs, another surprising result.

About the best takeaway for the White House is that the percentage of definite votes against Obama has dropped since the midterms by five points, from 48% to 43%.  None of those became Obama voters, however; they all went to Undecided.

Marist also asked about the GOP primary, and Mitt Romney leads it with 19%.  The poll included current outsiders Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, and Rudy Giuliani.  Perry and Giuliani tie for second place at 13%, with Palin fourth at 11% and Michele Bachmann fifth at 8%.  Obama manages to beat all of the Republicans head-to-head — due in part to the sample skew — but does worst against Romney, only leading 46/42.  Giuliani gets the short end of a 48/41 split, Perry trails 48/39, and Bachmann falls 12 points off the pace at 49/37.  Palin does worst at 56/30 for Obama.

So to return to the White House Spin Game, the Marist poll shows him beating all comers … but it looks like it’s mainly by default at the moment.