Friday, July 16, 2010

Is it 21 or tied? Obama v. Palin (2012) --Time poll

The talk of the evening and this morning -- at least on the 2012 presidential front -- is the discrepancy between the Public Policy Polling survey on 2012 general election scenarios (FHQ mentioned the numbers from it yesterday.) and a new national poll from Time Magazine. The point of overlap -- again with 2012 in mind -- is the Barack Obama versus Sarah Palin question.

Here's PPP:
Obama: 46
Palin: 46
Not sure: 9
And here's Time:

11. If the presidential election were held today and the candidates were Barack Obama, the Democrat, and Sarah Palin, the Republican, and you had to choose, for whom would you vote? (Only registered voters responding)

Barack Obama, the Democrat 55%
Sarah Palin, the Republican 34%
Other / Neither 7%
Would not vote in election 1%
Undecided / Don't know / No answer 4%

21-0. That's a large gap. FHQ natural inclination in a situation like this is to split the difference and move on. None of this is without caveat. PPP has conducted a national 2012 trial heat poll between Obama and Palin every month since March 2009. The Raleigh-based polling outfit, then, has established something of a baseline in this hypothetical race. But there has been some variability in those polls as well. Things were similarly tight between the two candidates back in April before jumping back into the high single digits in May and to ten points a month ago.

So, before saying the true, yes hypothetical, lead is 10 points and moving on, allow FHQ one last comment. Tom Jensen said it best in the wrap up to his post on the poll's highlights a day ago. I'm paraphrasing here: Perhaps we'll look back on this time and see this as an aberration for Obama or the point at which the wheels really began falling off. That's true. One thing is for certain though and this hasn't really been talked about enough. No other Republican candidate can solidify the Democratic base better than Palin. To be sure, she can perhaps do a good job of unifying the Republican Party as well. Her presence on the ballot would do wonders for the oft-cited enthusiasm gap that the GOP holds in terms of voter turnout during 2010 (and maybe 2012 as well). It would neutralize it. What Palin has to do if she is serious about a run at the White House is figure out the formula for adding independents. Until the former Alaska governor can do that consistently, the true gap between her and Obama will likely stay in that high single digit to 10 point range. If Obama keeps trending downward, that won't hurt Palin's cause.

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Jack of All Trades said...

The Time poll assumes that there are 14 percent more Democrats than there are Republicans. I don't believe that for a minute.

Josh Putnam said...

No, Jack. I don't think that sample is necessarily an accurate reflection of reality. At least with the repetition from PPP, we have some sense of the sampling variability on these 2012 polls.