Thursday, April 23, 2009

Obama vs. Four Prospective 2012 GOP Candidates: Huckabee Does Best

Public Policy Polling has a new poll out pitting President Obama against four potential competitors in a series of 2012 general election trial heats. Among the four Republicans, Mike Huckabee polled the best against Obama and was the only match-up where the president was under the fifty percent support mark. Here are the results from PPP's national survey of 686 voters over the weekend (April 17-19):

Obama - 49%
Huckabee - 42%
Not Sure - 9%

Obama - 52%
Gingrich - 39%
Not Sure - 9%

Obama - 53%
Palin - 41%
Not Sure - 6%

Obama - 50%
Romney - 39%
Not Sure - 11%

Let me add a couple of notes here:

1) This poll, like PPP's 2012 poll in March surveyed less than 700 respondents. Again, for a national survey you'd prefer 1000 responses, but beggars can't be choosers for 2012 polling data this far in advance. I'm sure the good folks at PPP would rationalize the number since it is based on voters and not the population at-large.

2) Palin improved her share while Obama's share dropped when compared to the previous poll. Not to diminish how well the Alaska governor stacks up against Obama, but this poll was done on the heels of Palin's appearance at and subsequent news coverage of the Right to Life Dinner last week in Evansville. Still, knocking eight points off the president's advantage over her in a month's time isn't too shabby.

3) The unsures also aren't all that surprising. I think it is safe to say that Palin is in Hillary Clinton territory now: People either like her or they don't, but they do know (or think they know) about her and have an opinion. That's a situation where the "don't knows" drop. The differences aren't great across all four candidates on the not sures, but I was still surprised that Mitt Romney was bringing up the rear. That's both a good and bad thing for the former Massachusetts governor. Good because his number is likely to increase (as would anyone's) upon entering the race, but bad because some of those unsures are also likely to go to Obama (already at the 50% mark).

4) The unsures on the favorable/unfavorable for each of the Republicans is also worth looking at. Palin is the only one of the four to have a not sure percentage in the single digits. The other three Republicans have not sures on that measure of 20 or more percentage points. That's pretty significant.

Still, Mike Huckabee does the best against Obama. That's certainly news to me. News I'm hard-pressed to figure out. My conception of the GOP field broadly was that Huckabee and Palin occupied a similar, though not identical, area: similar on social issues, but different on economic matters. But now that I've typed that out, I get a sense potentially of why Huckabee did better against Obama than the other three. In the midst of a time when the role of the federal government on a host of issues is increasing, Huckabee is the Republican answer. And if the US is going in that direction, "why not have one of our own in charge of it," might be the Republican thinking. Of course, the argument could be made that George W. Bush was that type of president and some Republicans weren't particularly thrilled with the expansion of government under the Bush administration.

Then again, I could be reading way too much into a poll concerning a race that is still three years away. Interesting results, though.

Hat tip to GOP12 for the poll link.

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Jack said...

I was also surprised when I saw Huckabee doing the best. Perhaps when the election is so far off, the most important attribute is personality, and Huckabee is easily the most likable? Maybe Obama's doing well enough on the economy that he's got some of the economics voters that would normally go to Romney? Or are people just mad at greedy rich guys right now, and Romney, unlike Huckabee, can come off as a greedy rich guy?

I'm not sure either.

Leah Texas4Obama said...

I am shocked that Palin got 41%.
I was under the impression that even the republicans had started to realize that she is a nut.

Josh Putnam said...

Yeah, it is something of a head-scratcher. However, as Scott pointed out in the comments over at DemConWatch, there really isn't that much difference between the four candidates.

Here's the thing: if you average the numbers out across the four match ups, Obama is at 51% with the Republican candidates coming to 40.25%. To me that is the status quo from November once you factor in undecideds overall and the uncertainty of who the actual nominee is going to be for the GOP in 2012.

We're just too far out. It probably won't keep me from looking at these things though.

Jack said...

I thought my theories were very clever. You could have said something to that effect and boosted my self-esteem.

Josh Putnam said...

Hey, I didn't disagree.

The Romney as rich guy thing resonates. Huckabee as the antithesis of that makes sense.

Anonymous said...

Gov. Huckabee could have beaten Obama in 2008. The ONLY reason he did not capture the nomination was a lack of money to run his campaign effectively. Still, he DID the UNTHINKABLE to get so far with so little $. That speaks volumes for how he is abble to stretch a dollar and how powerful his message is. He WILL be our guy in 2012 and the next president.

Josh Putnam said...

I don't know that money was the determining factor for Huckabee. Mitt Romney certainly had plenty of it and came up short in his bid as well. Still once, Romney was out, Huckabee had issues raising funds. But that was likely a function of the fact that McCain had virtually wrapped up the nomination after Super Tuesday. The GOP delegate allocation rules were a real hindrance to Huckabee and that didn't do him any favors on the campaign trail.

We'll see about 2012. The race will be less interesting without Huckabee in it.

[Well, maybe not if Palin opts to run.]

Anonymous said...

TOP 5 States with the most Mike Huckabee 2012 Fans are:

1) Florida
2) Texas
3) Ohio
4) California
5) Georgia

How does your home state rank? Top 10? Top 20? Top 30?...
Click the link above to find out.