Voters nationally are evenly divided on Barack Obama's job performance at 48% approving and 48% disapproving. Despite the mixed feelings toward him he leads Mitt Romney by 7 at 49-42, Newt Gingrich by 14 at 51-37, and Sarah Palin by 17 at 54-37 in hypothetical match ups. That's because even if voters are ambivalent about him, they don't like the Republican alternatives. Romney's favorability is 35/48, Palin's is 30/63, and Gingrich's is a remarkably bad 19/64.
All of these numbers are pretty much par for the course in our national Presidential polling this year except for one thing: Gingrich has completely tanked with Republican voters, providing real confirmation that his campaign rollout has been a total disaster. Only 38% of GOP voters have a favorable opinion of him and there are now more, at 45%, with an unfavorable one. I doubt anyone has ever been nominated for President who ever had negative favorability numbers within their own party less than a year out from the primary season.
That's the serious stuff and we did a national President poll two weeks ago and we'll do another one in two weeks. The real reason we did this extra one is to figure out how big of a political game changer the rapture would be.
First off- no one really believed the Rapture was going to happen last weekend, or at least they won't admit it. Just 2% of voters say they thought that was coming on Saturday to 98% who say they did not. It's really close to impossible to ask a question on a poll that only 2% of people say yes to. A national poll we did in September 2009 found that 10% of voters thought Barack Obama was the Anti-Christ, or at least said they thought so. That 2% number is remarkably low.
11% of voters though think the Rapture will occur in their lifetimes, even if it didn't happen last weekend. 66% think it will not happen and 23% are unsure. If the true believers who think the Rapture will happen in their lifetime are correct- and they're the ones who had the strongest enough faith to get taken up into heaven- then that's going to be worth a 2-5 point boost to Obama's reelection prospects. That's because while only 6% of independents and 10% of Democrats think the Rapture will happen during their lifetime, 16% of Republicans do. We always talk about demographic change helping Democrats with the rise of the Hispanic vote, but if the Rapture occurs it would be an even more immediate boost to Democratic electoral prospects.
Obama's lead over Romney is 7 points with all voters, but if you take out the ones who think the Rapture will occur in their lifetime his advantage increases to 9 points. That's because the Rapture voters support Romney by a 49-35 margin. Against Gingrich Obama's 14 point lead overall becomes a 17 point one if you take out take the 'Rapturers' because they support Gingrich 50-37. And Obama's 17 point lead over Palin becomes a 22 point spread without those voters because they support Palin 54-37.
Palin is the only person we tested on this poll who is actually popular with people who think the Rapture is going to happen. She has a 53/38 favorability with them, compared to 33/41 for Romney, 26/48 for Gingrich, and a 31/58 approval for Obama. Palin's problem is that her favorability with everyone who doesn't think the Rapture will happen is 27/66.
While few voters think the Rapture is coming, they're pretty darn confident that they're going up to Heaven if it does. 66% think they would be taken up to only 13% who think they'd be stuck down here and 21% who are unsure. It would really change the political landscape if everyone who thought they were going to be Raptured was correct. With the 34% of voters remaining here on earth Obama leads Romney 53-35, Gingrich 56-31, and Palin 61-26. You're talking a blowout of epic proportions next year with the third of voters that would remain.
Of course that's assuming Obama would still be here if the Rapture happened. We gave poll respondents an opportunity to play God and give us their opinions about whether Obama and Palin would be taken up if indeed the Rapture occurred. 44% of voters think he would be, 26% think he would not, and 30% are unsure. So if these voters are right there's a pretty good chance he wouldn't be around to enjoy the easy reelection the post-Rapture electorate would provide for him anyway. Obama can't even get any credit from Republicans for the after life. Just 23% of them think he would go up in the Rapture to 42% who think he would not. Voters are more divided about Palin's Rapture chances- 35% think she would go up, 32% think she would stay down, and 34% are not sure.
I know everyone was wondering last weekend what the electoral ramifications of the Rapture would be, so there, we told you. And we'll have Republican primary numbers delving into the same issues tomorrow.
Full results here