Barack Obama would win Minnesota pretty easily if he had to run for reelection today and in a bit of a surprise his stiffest competition would come not from the state's Governor Tim Pawlenty, but from Mitt Romney.
Obama's not particularly popular in Minnesota. 49% of voters in the state approve of him while 46% disapprove. His numbers are pretty completely polarized with 89% of Democrats approving of him and 90% of Republicans disapproving. Independents are pretty closely divided but lean slightly in favor of the President's performance by a 48/44 spread.
Obama may not be overwhelmingly well liked but he's certainly seen more favorably by the state's voters than his potential Republican foes. Mike Huckabee has the best personal favorability scores with 37% of voters viewing him positively to 40% negatively. Romney's spread is 32/42, Newt Gingrich's is 30/52, and Sarah Palin's is 35/60.
Pawlenty will leave office as an unpopular Governor. 43% of voters in the state approve of him while 53% disapprove. Democrats are more unified in disliking Pawlenty (89% disapproval) than Republicans are in their favor of him (83% approval.) Beyond that independents disapprove of him by a 40/56 spread. The importance of Pawlenty's unpopularity shouldn't be underestimated in Democrats picking up the Minnesota Governor's office this year in an otherwise dreadful year for the party. While Democratic Gubernatorial candidates in many states were having to deal with the weight of an unpopular President and an unpopular Democratic Governor Mark Dayton benefited by having the impact of an an unpopular President at least partially balanced out by his opponent having to deal with the weight of an unpopular Republican Governor.
In the closest head to head match up for President Obama leads Romney 47-42. Doing next best is Pawlenty at a 51-43 disadvantage, followed by Huckabee at 50-40, Gingrich at 51-38, and Palin at 54-36.
Obama gets more than 90% of the Democratic vote against all five Republicans. His numbers with independents vary a good bit though, from a 2 point lead over Romney to a 12 point one over Huckabee and Pawlenty, an 18 point one over Gingrich, and a 25 point one over Palin. There's also a fair amount of variability in the willingness of Republicans to support their various possible nominees- 90% say they'd vote for Pawlenty, 87% would vote for Romney, 84% for Huckabee, 81% for Gingrich, and just 76% for Palin.
The bottom line: against any Republican nominee other than Romney, Obama would do as well or better than he did in Minnesota in 2008. And even against Romney Obama's lead is better than what Democrats were able to do in the state in 2000 and 2004. Obama's standing's going to have to get a lot worse or the Republican candidate field's going to have to get a lot better for Minnesota to be a swing state in 2012.
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