Barack Obama continues to lead all of his top potential 2012 opponents for reelection...but his advantage over all of those Republicans might not really be quite as big as it looks.
Obama's up 5 points on Mike Huckabee at 48-43, 6 on Mitt Romney at 47-41, 9 on Chris Christie at 48-39, 10 on Rand Paul at 48-38, 14 on Newt Gingrich at 52-38, and 18 on Sarah Palin at 54-36.
Here's the catch though: in every one of those match ups the vast majority of undecided voters disapprove of Obama...they just either don't yet know or not yet completely sold on the potential Republican candidates so they go into the undecided column. Chances are when push comes to shove those folks are going to vote against Obama if they don't think he's doing a good job. So we also calculated the numbers allocating the undecideds based on their approval or disapproval of Obama- when you do that Obama only leads Romney and Huckabee 51-49, is just up 52-48 on Paul and Christie, has a 54-46 advantage over Gingrich, and still wallops Palin if only by a 56-44 margin.
This is just one poll but my guess is that with the vast majority of 2012 horse race polls you're seeing right now this phenomenon of most of the undecideds being Obama disapprovers is in place and that means the leads he's posting in these surveys are perhaps not quite as comfortable as they might appear at first glance.
Obama has narrowly negative approval ratings with 47% of voters giving him good marks to 48% who think he's doing a bad job. His saving grace continues to be the Republican candidate field, the universal unpopularity of which allows Obama to lead in head to heads despite his own weak numbers. Interestingly Christie has the best net favorability of the folks we tested this month at -2 (28/30). He's followed by Huckabee at -6 (36/42), Romney at -11 (32/43), Paul at -19 (26/45), Gingrich at -27 (28/55), and Palin at -30 (31/61). Right now Republicans aren't fully capitalizing on Obama's unpopularity because all of their own candidates are so unappealing but if that changes things will be looking even dicier for Obama.
Obama is definitely weaker right now than he was in 2008- his leads over Huckabee and Romney here are smaller than this margin of victory over John McCain even before you allocate the undecideds. The big question just continues to be whether the GOP will nominate someone who can take advantage of Obama's vulnerability or if they'll nominate someone so extreme that voters with reservations about Obama end up voting for him anyway as the lesser of two evils.
Full results here