For the first time in one of our monthly polls looking ahead to the 2012 Presidential election, Barack Obama trails one of his hypothetical opponents, albeit by the smallest of margins.
Mike Huckabee has a 45-44 advantage over Obama, aided largely by a 44-38 lead with independents. His 35/29 favorability breakdown is actually slightly better than it was in November.
Mitt Romney does the next best, trailing Obama 44-42. His favorability is 36/32, and he's the most popular Republican among independents (41/32). Romney actually matches Huckabee with GOP voters this month and gets over 50%, ending a trend in his numbers that had seemed to spell difficulty for snagging a Republican nomination.
Sarah Palin trails Obama 49-41 largely because she loses 14% of the Republican vote to him, making her the only one of the GOP candidates we tested who Obama could get double digit crossover support against. At the same time Palin continues to be the most well liked potential GOP candidate within her party- at 71% favorability. Her problem appears to be that the Republicans who don't care for her will go so far as to vote for Obama instead of her.
Finally our blog readers voted for David Petraeus as our wild card Republican this month and his numbers come out as a mixed bag. He has the largest deficit against Obama, trailing 44-34. But at +13 his net favorability is better than the President or any of the other Republicans we tested. The problem for him is that the numbers break down 25/12- 63% of voters in the country don't know enough about him to have formed an opinion. Who knows if Petraeus would actually have any interest in going into politics, but if he did he would be introducing himself to many vo ters for the first time.
Hypothetical 2012 matchups:
1. Mike Huckabee 45% Barack Obama 44%
2. Barack Obama 44% Mitt Romney 42%
3. Barack Obama 49% Sarah Palin 41%
4. Barack Obama 44% David Petraeus 34%
1. Petraeus 25%/12%
2. Huckabee 35%/29%
3. Mitt Romney 36%/32%
4. Palin 42%/51%
More Key numbers:
1. Mike Huckabee is viewed favorably by all age groups, except 30-45 year-olds, where he's at -3%.
2. Mitt Romney's viewed unfavorably by 18-29 year-olds (-6%) and 30-45 year-olds (-12%)
3. Predictably, Petraeus is viewed favorably by every age group, except 18-29 year-olds
4. Sarah Palin is viewed unfavorably by all age groups (including a whopping -29% among 30-45 year-olds), except among 46-65 year-olds where she's at +5%
Of course, it's way too early to put much stock in a presidential poll, unless you want to see where people stand at this point in time. Right now, Huckabee seems to be a front-runner and apparently the only person named who could beat Obama in an election and has only a one percent advantage.
Sarah Palin, who I personally think is vastly underrated, isn't even a contender, nor, honestly, do I think she should be. There is a lot of remaking that needs to be done, and I'm not sure it can be overcome by poor handling in the past election. I don't see her running for anything in 2012.
Petraeus has some name recognition, but not as a politician. The last career military person who made it to the White House was Eisenhower, and I don't think Petraeus could change that. He'd be spending too much time explaining himself and his views to, well, pretty much the rest of the country.
Romney is unfortunately viewed unfavorably by too large a group of potential voters. I think he'd be a good choice, but, that's only my opinion. Perhaps a card of Huckabee and Romney could unseat Obama in 2012?
We'll just have to wait to see what the future holds. While we will start seeing various people trying to position themselves in the next few months, the election itself is still nearly three years away. A lot can happen between now and then and we'll see various names come and go. As my mother would have said, we'll see who (and what about whom) comes out of the woodwork.
Some will be like groundhog Punxsatawny Phil and stick their heads out to see what the weather is like. Some won't like what they see and scurry back into their holes. Others will stick it out for a while and then fade away. Some we won't know about, others will be obvious; some will be wannabes, and others viable contenders. Make no doubt, there are plenty who are already looking around to see what the future might hold for them.
It might not make any difference anyway. If the people who predict the end of the world on December 21, 2012 (based on the end on that date of the Mayan calendar) are correct, whoever wins in November 2012 won't make it to the inauguration anyway.
But in the meantime, the next 32 months will be interesting in the political field.