PPP's monthly look at how Barack Obama fares nationally against some potential 2012 rivals again shows him in solid position, with Mike Huckabee coming the closest for the second time in a row.
Obama leads Huckabee 52-39, Newt Gingrich 53-36, Mitt Romney 53-35, and Sarah Palin 56-37. Any of these match ups, at this point in time, would give him a margin of victory far exceeding what he won against John McCain last November.
Although that's certainly somewhat attributable to Obama's popularity it's also an indication that the GOP- like the Democrats last year- might end up better off if a fresher candidate emerges than the ones currently most well known and discussed.
Huckabee has the best favorability rating of the GOP quartet, at 44/32. That's followed by Romney at 40/36, Palin at 42/50, and Gingrich at 30/47.
Palin is actually the most popular among Republicans with 76% viewing her favorably, compared to 67% for Romney, 64% for Huckabee, and 57% for Gingrich. But she also has the weakest numbers among Democrats and independents, with 74% and 58% respectively viewing her negatively. All The GOP contenders get unfavorable reviews from independents with the exception of Huckabee, who manages a positive 44/36 spread.
Palin is also the best known of the group with fewer than 10% of the respondents having no opinion of her. About a quarter didn't know enough to take a stance on the other three.
Obama's approval rating is at 55%, a finding pretty consistent with where he was in April (53%) and March (55%). His reviews continue to be very polarized along partisan lines (84% approval from Democrats but just 19% from Republicans) and he's at a solid 55% with independents.
Full results here.