Romney Leads Obama in Poll

President Obama comfortably leads all Republicans but one.

Mitt Romney leads President Obama 49-46 in the latest ABC/Washington Post poll of registered voters.

An announcement bump for Mitt Romney and a bus-tour boost for Sarah Palin put the pair atop the field for the Republican presidential nomination. But while their primary standings are similar, their broader prospects for election look vastly different.

Romney appears formidable: In a general-election trial heat in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll he runs evenly with Barack Obama among all Americans, and numerically outpoints him, 49-46 percent, among registered voters — not a statistically significant lead, given sampling error, but a clear reflection of Obama’s vulnerability to a well-positioned challenger.

Romney, though, is the only Republican to run that well; Obama leads all other potential opponents tested in this poll — Palin, Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, Michele Bachmann and Jon Huntsman. Palin fares worst, trailing Obama by 17 points among all adults, 15 points among registered voters.

Indeed, despite advancing in GOP primary preference, Palin faces daunting challenges. Sixty-four percent of Americans say they definitely will not vote for her for president, a new high. Sixty-three percent describe her as unqualified for the job, below its peak but still a substantial majority. Even in her own party, among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, 41 percent rule out voting for her and 39 percent see her as unqualified.

The Palin numbers don’t surprise me, of course, since this has been the polling trend for two years or more. Romney’s strong showing, though, is interesting. The “announcement bump” explanation seems far-fetched in that I don’t think people are paying much attention.

The same poll shows the “Osama bounce” having dissipated:

The public opinion boost President Obama received after the killing of Osama bin Laden has dissipated, and Americans’ disapproval of how he is handling the nation’s economy and the deficit has reached new highs, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The survey portrays a broadly pessimistic mood in the country this spring as higher gasoline prices, sliding home values and a disappointing employment picture have raised fresh concerns about the pace of the economic recovery.

By 2 to 1, Americans say the country is pretty seriously on the wrong track, and nine in 10 continue to rate the economy in negative terms. Nearly six in 10 say the economy has not started to recover, regardless of what official statistics may say, and most of those who say it has improved rate the recovery as weak.

[…]

Overall, about six in 10 of those surveyed give Obama negative marks on the economy and the deficit. Significantly, nearly half strongly disapprove of his performance in these two crucial areas. Nearly two-thirds of political independents disapprove of the president’s handling of the economy, including — for the first time — a slim majority who do so strongly.

In another indicator of rapidly shifting views on economic issues, 45 percent trust congressional Republicans over the president when it comes to dealing with the economy, an 11-point improvement for the GOP since March. Still, nearly as many, 42 percent, side with Obama on this issue.

Again, not terribly shocking. The economy is in terrible shape and presidents are expected to fix it. We assign them far too much credit for good economies and too much blame for bad ones; but that’s the job.

Looking at RealClearPolitics‘ poll of polls, something jumps out at me: The wide disparity among the individual polls on the president’s job performance, which averages +5.3 but ranges from +13 to -3.

The polls are all taken since May 18, so it’s unlikely to be a function of events. And, yes, Rasmussen, which tends to lean Republican, is one of the outliers. But its numbers are almost identical to the aforementioned ABC/WaPo survey. Nor is it the sampling screen. There are only two likely voter polls–the rest are “adults”–and they’re the two extremes of the range. I honestly have no idea what to make of this.

 

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    Me first! Me first!

    Polls are irrelevant at this stage.

  2. john personna says:

    The poll surprises me, and does look bad for Obama. I didn’t really thing Romney had such strong positives.

    Again, not terribly shocking. The economy is in terrible shape and presidents are expected to fix it. We assign them far too much credit for good economies and too much blame for bad ones; but that’s the job.

    There is special irony here, isn’t there? The Republican position is that Presidents shouldn’t do anything active to fix the economy. The economy runs itself (TM).

  3. TG Chicago says:

    @Schuler:

    Polls are irrelevant at this stage.

    I know you were being glib, but surely if nothing else, the 60%+ figure (including about 40% of the GOP-leaning voters) who refuse to vote for Palin is relevant, even this far out.

  4. rodney dill says:

    …probably because magic underwear is way more cool than tweeted underwear…

  5. Tano says:

    The potential good news for Obama is that if it turns out that this WaPo poll really is the outlier that it seems to be (comparing it to the others in the average), then this small lead for Romney is also a fluke, and the considerable Obama lead over everyone else is understated.

    But polls are irrelevant at this stage

  6. Ben says:

    I know this isn’t breaking any new ground here, but unless some discrete event occurs which makes Obama look very very bad, Romney is the only Republican who’s running, who can beat Obama in the general.

  7. EddieInCA says:

    Question for our commentators:

    What percentage of GOP Social Conservatives (White, older, Southern Evangelical Christians – “the base”) sits out the election if Romney is the actual nominee?

    1% ?
    5% ?
    10% ?

    Because I have a few relatives in Southern Missouri that will vote for “that black feller” before they vote for a Mormon.

    Just sayin’.

  8. Tsar Nicholas II says:

    The “relevance” of polling data often depends in large part upon one’s personal biases.

    Certain aspects of polling, however — trends, favorability ratings, unfavorable ratings, demographic breakdowns — almost never are irrelevant.

    The negatives on Palin are not irrelevant for the simple and obvious reason that they’re in line with what every polling service has been saying for at least 12-18 months. That’s a trend. It can’t simply be gainsaid for the sake of being contrary. The conclusion of course is obvious, although ironically enough it won’t be obvious to various segments of the right. People with such high, built-in negative ratings can’t be elected president. Political reality doesn’t work that way.

    The positives for Romney are not irrelevant because they simply confirm what’s obvious to anyone with eyes and ears and some experience following elections: Romney would be a formidable general election candidate. That doesn’t mean he’ll beat Obama. It doesn’t even mean he’ll be the nominee. It does mean, however, that if Romney were to sew up the nomination by the 1st Super Tuesday, and if the economy continues disintegrating, the bells will begin tolling for Obama and for the academia/media/union cabal.

  9. sam says:

    @Dill

    “…probably because magic underwear is way more cool than tweeted underwear…”

    Heh. A friend of our’s is a Mormon (a bishop, no less). He stayed at our house one time, and came downstairs for breakfast wearing slacks and just his “official” undershirt. Pretty arresting, I’d have to say.

    Anybody else find it interesting that of all the GOP candidates, Romney seems to be the closest to Obama in demeanor and temperament?

  10. EddieInCA says:

    Anybody else find it interesting that of all the GOP candidates, Romney seems to be the closest to Obama in demeanor and temperament?

    You mean… a grownup?

  11. hey norm says:

    borrowing from a comment i made on another thread…romney’s showing makes perfect sense for the so-called republican party. he’s shown his ability to cover both sides of every issue and the so-called republicans have no idea what they are about when it comes to any particular issue.
    they are christians who embrace ayn rand. they are fiscal hawks who only add to the debt. they are the party of nat’l security that let 9.11 happen on their watch, invaded the wrong country, couldn’t finish wars they started, and couldn’t kill OBL. they are for small government and total control of women’s reproductive parts. they vote against programs that they propose, whether it is the debt commision or the ACA.
    yup – romney is perfect for them. good luck.

  12. john personna says:

    the academia/media/union cabal

    Oh yeah, that cabal has made out oh so well in the last few years.

    Or not, actually, as academic and union employment falls.

  13. john personna says:

    (Note, you are right that an imagined socialist conspiracy is still the GOP’s best slogan. I’m saying, sad that. I’d rather have real policy based on social and economic reality.)

  14. ponce says:

    From the 2007 Republican Primary:

    What the Republican race shows is an undying conviction that there has to be someone better out there.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/12/18/423838/-Illi-Weenie-Chili-Beanie

  15. CB says:

    Oh yeah, that cabal has made out oh so well in the last few years.

    Or not, actually, as academic and union employment falls.

    thou shalt not question the orthodoxy

  16. jwest says:

    As with all polls, one needs to look deep into the numbers to find the truth.

    Jamie Wearing Fool finds one of the keys to how much worse this poll is for Obama:

    “In the link at the Washington Post we discover the breakdown: Democrats 31%, Republicans 25%, independent 39% and have no clue 4%. Buried deep in there is a question about the Tea Party, and they actually increased in favorability, which is now at 46-44%”
    http://jammiewearingfool.blogspot.com/

    Obama = Toast

  17. Andre Kenji says:

    The polls are relevant for another reason. An incumbent president that barely manages to get 50% over unknown candidates(And that loses to the only candidate with high name recognition and positive approval) is vulnerable. Pretty vulnerable.

  18. john personna says:

    There is also the school of thought that less known candidates lose as people who have vague good feelings about them get to know them better.

    A president should always poll better against ___ than against an actual person for that reason.

  19. jwest says:

    For a sitting president, in a poll that samples a democrat-leaning “adults” as opposed to likely voters, with a scant 25% republican survey size, the “would you definitely vote for Obama” number is incredibly low:

    24% would definitely vote to reelect him.

    Toast.

  20. ponce says:

    Obama = Toast

    I believe this is known as magical thinking.

  21. EddieInCA says:

    Additionally….

    If you know anything about the current Social Conservative base, it’s probably a given that if Romney is, in fact, nominated for the GOP slot, a more conservative candidate will run as a third party candidate (Tea Party? Independent?).

    I can see Santorum, Gingrich, Bachman or Palin mounting such a candidacy. They’d lose, but they’d position themselves to make an absolute fortune on the Wingnut Welfare circuit – books, speeches, Fox gig. They can set up themselves and their children financially for several lifetimes.

  22. EddieInCA says:

    ponce says:
    Tuesday, June 7, 2011 at 11:33

    Obama = Toast

    I believe this is known as magical thinking.

    Or just GOP thinking. Nothing magical about it. Just delusional.

  23. Neil Hudelson says:

    EddieinCA,

    Gingrich and Palin possibly, as they are both in it purely for financial gain. Santorum, sure, as he has nothing left to lose. As much as I think Bachman is an idiot when it comes to most subjects, politically she’s not. She won’t want to buck the party that much, as even if she loses she has a long electoral career ahead of her, and alienating the entire party establishment won’t help her much.

  24. PJ says:

    @EddieInCA:

    What percentage of GOP Social Conservatives (White, older, Southern Evangelical Christians – “the base”) sits out the election if Romney is the actual nominee?

    Is there a Bradley effect for Mormon candidates?

    Consider the Senate:
    The current Senate has two mormon senators from Utah, one from Idaho, two from Nevada, and one from New Mexico. There a six former mormon senators from Utah, two from Nevada, one from Florida, and one from Oregon.

    This was fun.

  25. James Joyner says:

    @PJ: The latest Census figures, from 2008, show fewer than 6 million Mormons in the whole country. It’s hardly shocking that we don’t elect a lot of them. Indeed, 5 percent of the Senate being Mormon, when they represent less than 2 percent of the population, is pretty stunning.

  26. PJ says:

    @James Joyner:
    I think your reasoning is a bit faulty since the states all elect two senators.
    Instead, if you give every senator half the population of the state from where they are elected, Mormons would represent 2.4% of the entire population.

    Further, there are currently eight LDS representatives in the House, which means that 1.8% of the representatives are Mormons. The eight districts they represents contained in 2000 1.8% of the total population.

  27. Muffler says:

    Hold on Hold on… let me check my socks… nope they haven’t fallen down so I don’t have to pull them up… oh oh let me check my socks again… nope they still haven’t fallen down so I don;t have to pull them up… ooh oohh let me check my socks again… nope they haven’t fallen down so I don’t have to pull them up…

  28. jukeboxgrad says:

    James:

    The latest Census figures, from 2008, show fewer than 6 million Mormons in the whole country. It’s hardly shocking that we don’t elect a lot of them.

    Probably we would elect more of them if there was less anti-Mormonism.

    24% of Americans would not vote for a Mormon for president, even if the person was from their own party, and “generally well-qualified” (link). In that survey, being a Mormon was worse than being Jewish, female or black. Although not as bad as being gay or atheist.

    The survey doesn’t get into this, but anti-Mormon bias is especially strong among Evangelicals, who are obviously an important part of the GOP. So I think Romney’s Mormonism is one of many reasons why it will be hard for him to get nominated.

    Also interesting in that survey is the comparison between 1967 and 2007. Mormons are the only group where the prejudice over that period got worse, not better.

    Something else about Romney and this early polling: big chunks of the GOP are going to spend the next year or so tearing him apart. Of course those attacks aren’t new, but I think many voters haven’t heard them yet. On the other hand, everything negative about Obama has already been heard by everyone, since years ago. So that information is already priced into his ‘stock.’

    ==================
    Eddie:

    if Romney is, in fact, nominated for the GOP slot, a more conservative candidate will run as a third party candidate

    I think this is exactly right. I think Romney and Palin are the only two with a chance of being nominated, and I think Palin is the most likely nominee. And in the unlikely event that she is not nominated, she will run anyway.

  29. Barry Blue says:

    Nice article and nice thread, really enjoyed it.

  30. Moosebreath says:

    Another day, another poll — this Quinnipiac one showing Obama up 6 on Romney (see question 4). Wonder why the so=called liberal media isn’t trumpeting it as much as the one cited here?

  31. James Joyner says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Quinnipiac one showing Obama up 6 on Romney (see question 4). Wonder why the so=called liberal media isn’t trumpeting it as much as the one cited here?

    Probably because Quinnipiac is a university and not a combined effort between a major media company (ABC News) and a leading newspaper (Washington Post).

  32. Moosebreath says:

    “Probably because Quinnipiac is a university and not a combined effort between a major media company (ABC News) and a leading newspaper (Washington Post).”

    Probably not. Q’s surveys are considered one of the major national ones who are reported as much (and has a better reputations than) Rasmussen, Zogby or PPP.

  33. James Joyner says:

    @Moosebreath: Q’s a serious poll. I’m just saying that an ABC-WaPo poll is guaranteed major coverage by ABC and WaPo whereas Q’s have to fit into a news cycle.

    And the point of this post isn’t that Obama is doomed or that Romney is a shoe-in; neither are the case. Rather, it shows that Romney has a serious shot at beating Obama and that Palin does not. I don’t think it tells us much of anything about the lesser known candidates–except that they’re lesser known.

  34. PJ says:

    Yet another day, yet another poll. This one from from Reuters/Ipsos, Obama is leading Romney 51-38. I’m guessing the large lead is due to them polling 1,132 adults, including 948 registered voters. (The margin of error is 3 percentage points.)

    Also, in that poll Palin is in the lead for the Republican nomination.