Our monthly look ahead to the 2012 Presidential race finds Barack Obama more or less tied with all four of the leading candidates for the Republican nomination. He trails Mike Huckabee 47-45 and Mitt Romney 45-44, ties Newt Gingrich at 45-45, and leads Sarah Palin 47-45. This is the weakest performance Obama's posted in these 13 monthly surveys and a pretty clear indication that passing health care has not done anything to enhance his political standing, at least in the short term.
It's not that any of the Republican candidates are particularly popular, or even that Obama's approval numbers have declined. But whereas in previous months a good number of the voters disapproving of his job performance weren't ready to commit to voting Republican in 2012 yet, now 85-89% of them do in each of these hypothetical contests. That suggests that even if Obama's overall unpopularity has not increased, the intensity of it has. For instance among voters who disapprove of Obama but also have an unfavorable opinion of Sarah Palin, she leads him by 22 points in a head to head contest. That wasn't necessarily the case in previous months.
Palin and Gingrich are the most popular among Republican voters...and the least popular overall. 71% of GOP folks have a favorable opinion of Palin but thanks to putrid numbers with Democrats and independents her overall favorability is 38% with 52% of voters having a negative opinion of her. For Gingrich 62% of Republicans see him positively but with similarly bad standing among voters outside the party his total favorability is 34% with 47% of voters expressing negative sentiments toward him.
Romney and Huckabee are less popular within their own parties than Palin and Gingrich but have better overall favorability numbers because they're less toxic to Democrats and independents. There is a real potential in the GOP race if all these folks run to put voters in a situation where they have to decide between who they like best and who they think has the best chance to defeat President Obama.
As we've said before these polls 31 months out from November 2012 don't matter a whole lot, but we do it every month to see the trends and it's definitely not a good one for Obama. But things could be completely different two years from now.
Full results here