Once again, it is so early that it is a stretch to take consider 2012 numbers even as much as a vague guideline. This however has not kept Public Policy Polling from giving us some fun speculation as to possible primary results. Right now, the polling shows a tight four way match, that gives way after South Carolina to a two way battle between Romney and… Newt Gingrich. The battle goes to Florida, where Romney currently has an edge. It is a fun read, if nothing else.
One assumption of the analysis that I have to question though, is that it indicates that Gingrich would be able to position himself as the stronger conservative to Romney. I am not so certain of that. Memories of Gingrich’s friendliness toward Nancy Pelosi and discussion of “climate change” may scare away former Palin voters… and of course in a scenario as described above, should Palin drop out after South Carolina, she would have remarkable power behind her endorsement of one of the remaining two. Some have argued that Sarah Palin does not want to have the top spot herself, but would like to be kingmaker to ensure that the best conservative takes the top spot. If this scenario plays out, she would certainly have that position before the Florida primary.
Still lots of twists and turns to this campaign before then. We still have liberals to root out of Congress this November… but a little speculation now and then is entertaining.
According to a poll done by Public Policy Polling aka PPP, a reputable, though possibly moderately left-leaning organization, Governor Romney fares best of the Republican field against Obama. The hypothetical match-up shows Romney leading with 46% of the vote, to Obama’s 43% among 667 registered voters. Other top tier Republican candidates are also slightly ahead or tied, with Huckabee over Obama 47-45, and Gingrich grabbing a narrow lead at 46-45.Among independents Romney leads Obama by a significant thirteen point edge, 48-35.
The poll reflects a significant drop in the President’s popularity over the past year. His job approval is quite low with only 45% approving to 52% disapproving. Governor Romney’s favorability meanwhile remains relatively even, with 32% supporting him, 33% against, and still 35% not sure of their opinion of the man. This argues that Romney’s image, unlike Obama’s or Palin’s is not set in stone, and many conservative and independents can still yet be won over by his message.
To me the most interesting question of the poll is the simple question of whom participants supported in the 2008 election. Despite the party identification of the poll that sees a reasonable split of 39% Democrat, 34% Republican, and 27% Independent, the answer breaks down as 46% Obama, 45% McCain, and 9% Someone else/Don’t Remember. That certainly seems quite a bit off of the 53-46 split that the President won, with the difference being a particularly high percentage of people to who neither name seems all that familiar. Now, I know schedules can be busy, but I don’t think it is really that difficult to remember whom you voted for less than two years ago. I certainly doubt that they suddenly ran into a pack of 60 or so disaffected Nader voters.
So then what is it? Conservatives who did not turn out in 2008, uninspired by the McCain/Palin ticket? Or are these unhappy Obama voters, not so willing to admit their 2008 preference right about now… sort of like how the Allies in 1945 had trouble finding anybody in Germany who ever supported the Nazis? Judging from the cross-tabs, I’d guess a little bit of both. Either way it seems right now that those who are excited about getting out to vote in 2010 and 2012 are not of the same coalition that brought Obama to the Presidency in 2008. There is a long path ahead. Let’s hope that it isn’t pretty for the left.