A broad theme has been emerging in our state by state Presidential polling over the last couple months: if the Republicans nominate Mitt Romney it's a toss up. And if they nominate anyone else it's 2008 all over again. Our newest Nevada numbers very much reinforce that trend.
Barack Obama took the Silver State by 12 points in his first run. But if he had to stand for reelection today he'd be in a very competitive race against Romney, leading only 47-46 in the state. Pit him against any of the other Republicans there though and the numbers look pretty similar to last time- 9 point advantages over Herman Cain and Rick Perry at 48-39 and 49-40 respectively, a 10 point lead over Michele Bachmann at 50-40, and a 12 point advantage over Sarah Palin at 51-39.
Over the last month we've had similar findings in:
-Pennsylvania, where Obama is tied with Romney but leads all other Republicans by at least 7 points.
-New Hampshire, where Romney leads Obama by 2 points but all other Republicans trails Obama by at least 7.
-Virginia, where Obama leads Romney by 4 but has at least a 9 point advantage over all the rest of the GOP hopefuls.
-Michigan, where Obama has a 5 point advantage over Romney but at least a 15 point lead over everyone else.
-North Carolina, where the disparity between Romney and the rest of the Republicans isn't quite as great. Obama and Romney are tied while Obama leads all the others by at least 3 points.
Taken all together it makes you ask the question: do Republicans have to nominate Romney to defeat Obama next year?
Obama's approval numbers are actually on the rise a little bit in Nevada from where they were when PPP last polled the state in late October. Then 45% approved of him to 52% disapproving. Now it's 47% approving to 50% disapproving. He's actually on positive ground with independents at 52/45 but he's under water overall because Republicans (89% disapproval) dislike him a whole lot more at this point than Democrats (79%) do like him.
Obama's holding his ground against everyone but Romney in Nevada because voters there find the whole GOP field even more unpalatable than him. Romney comes close to breaking even on favorability at 38/43 but the rest of the Republicans are quite unpopular- a -9 spread for Cain at 24/33, a -12 for Perry at 24/36, a -21 for Bachmann at 30/51, and a -28 for Palin at 32/60.
Voters disliking the Republican candidates really is a vital component of Obama's horse race numbers holding up as well as they are even as his approval numbers struggle. It remains to be seen whether he can really get reelected by being the lesser of two evils or if the election will end up being solely a referendum on him regardless of who the GOP puts forward. And one thing's for sure- if voters ever warm up to one of the Republican candidates Obama will really be in trouble, in Nevada and everywhere.
Full results here