Barack Obama's decline in popularity over the last year has received a lot of attention. What hasn't gotten as much is that all four of the leading potential 2012 Republican Presidential candidates have also seen their favorability numbers take a hit during that period of time.
Obama's decline since our August 2009 national poll is 11 points. A year ago he was at a +10 net approval (52/42) and now he's at -1 (47/48).
The Republican whose favorability has really fallen during that same time period, to a greater extent even than Obama, is Mike Huckabee. He had a +17 favorability a year ago (45/28) and that's dropped 19 points to -2 at 32/34. Huckabee's still pretty popular with Republicans but he's taken a dramatic hit with independents from +24 at 48/24 to nearly a mirror opposite at -14 (24/38). Huckabee's gotten swept up in the same dislike of any and all politicians by independent voters that many folks running for office this year have. All the time spent at Fox News isn't doing much for his numbers with Democrats either. Last August he had an unusually high favorability level across party lines at 26% but that's now been cut in half to 13%.
Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich have seen identical 8 point drops in their favorability numbers, pretty similar to what Obama's encountered. Palin was at -9 (40/49) and is now at -17 (37/54). Gingrich was at -9 as well (33/42) and is also now at -17 (31/48). Palin and Gingrich, like Huckabee, are steady with Republicans but have taken a hit with Democrats and independents.
The Republican leader seeing the smallest erosion in his poll numbers since last August is Mitt Romney. He was at +3 a year ago (37/34) and is now at -2 (35/37). Romney's actually improved his favorability with Republicans from 52% to 57% but with Democrats he's dropped from 23% seeing him positively to 16% and with independents from 40% to 34%.
The shift in Romney's numbers over the last years raises an important question for the 2012 GOP nomination process: does building up your popularity with Republicans necessitate hurting it with independents and Democrats? For folks like Sharron Angle and Rand Paul we've found the answer to be yes and it will be interestingly to see if the Republican Presidential campaign similarly produces a weakened general election candidate.
August 2009 numbers here, August 2010 numbers here