Thursday, October 22, 2009

PPP's 2012 Presidential General Election Trial Heats In-Depth

Well, it appears as if the Bush bias from last month's Public Policy Polling survey of the 2012 presidential election has vanished with the former Florida governor excluded from the list of candidates hypothetically pitted against President Obama. Recall that Jeb Bush was the first candidate asked about in that poll and that may have primed respondents to conjure up memories of the not too distant Bush administration (How long will that last?). With Bush out and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty in, the numbers for the stable list of candidates (Huckabee, Palin and Romney) returned to form -- or at least to levels that existed in the firm's August glimpse at the 2012 field. And you can see that depicted below. Just compare the August numbers the results released a day ago:
Obama: 47
Huckabee: 43
Undecided: 10

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Obama: 52
Palin: 40
Undecided: 8

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Obama: 50
Pawlenty: 30
Undecided: 20

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Obama: 48
Romney: 40
Undecided: 12

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Polling Firm: Public Policy Polling
Margin or Error: +/- 3.5%
Sample: 766 likely voters (nationally)
Conducted: October 16-19, 2009
Across the board, then, the three regulars improved this month on their performances against Obama in September. Now, whether that has anything to do with Bush being or not being in the survey questionnaire is certainly up for debate. On the surface, though, it looks as if that may have played a role. Obama's standing has changed little in the last month. The president's approval numbers are in basically the same position with the disapproval level has inched up a notch or so. However, that movement hardly seems to account for the closing of the gap between the president and the three prospective Republican nominees.

What else is there in this poll, though? There have been some quirks in these PPP polls throughout 2009. In July, it was Obama sweeping the South and in August it was the underlying education demographics of the sample. But nothing really jumps out at my after a rather cursory glance at the cross-tabs for October. However, there are some interesting trends in there.

First, the gender gap trend is still present. Palin continues to lag behind her male Republican counterparts relative to Obama among women. But for once someone did worse than the former Alaska governor on that front. Tim Pawlenty came in a whopping -37 on the gender gap measure (-24 with women and -13 with men against Obama) whereas Palin registered a -25 point disadvantage. When you compare that to Huckabee (-8) and Romney (-14), there really appears to be a line of demarcation between this group of candidates. In Pawlenty's defense, the Minnesota governor is dealing with being far more unknown to people than the other candidates and that definitely had an impact on his numbers.

There were also some interesting trends across the various age groups. Obama beat every Republican across every age group, but the patterns were noteworthy. The expectation is that the older the respondent, the more likely they would be to support a Republican candidate. That trend holds for Huckabee and Pawlenty, though the gaps are far greater for Pawlenty. That trend doesn't hold for Romney or Palin, though. In both cases, the former governors trail Obama but do better among the youngest group of voters (18-29) and the oldest group of voters (65+) than they do with the middle two age groups (30-45, 46-65) -- the gaps are smaller anyway.

All in all, an interesting poll. We'll have to see what November brings.

Recent Posts:
State of the Race: New Jersey Governor (10/22/09)

PPP 2012 Presidential Trial Heats: Huckabee's Still Tops

State of the Race: Virginia Governor (10/21/09)

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