Wherefore Art Thou, Oh Generic Candidate?

Via Gallup:  "Republican Candidate" Extends Lead vs. Obama to 47% to 39%

Registered voters by a significant margin now say they are more likely to vote for the "Republican Party’s candidate for president" than for President Barack Obama in the 2012 election, 47% to 39%. Preferences had been fairly evenly divided this year in this test of Obama’s re-election prospects.

While I understand that this is interesting in the abstract, I always find these polls to be amusing.  Clearly it is not hard for a fantasy to beat reality.

It would be interesting to do a long-term study of these types of polls to see how often a sitting president leads a generic opponent and what the prevailing national circumstances were if/when that was the case?

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Tlaloc says:

    It’s mostly useful as another form of measuring discontent with Obama rather than his likelihood to win re-election. In other words its a counterpart to the favorable/unfavorable numbers.

  2. MKS says:

    The Republicans would probably have to nominate Mr. Ghaddafi – or someone equally oppressive – to prevent me from casting a GOP vote in 2012. If they were to nominate him, I would abstain from casting a vote for President in the upcoming general election.

    Otherwise, it’s GOP, generic or instantiated.

  3. Kylopod says:

    I think they should start including Zombie Reagan, who would probably score higher than any of these schlemiels.

  4. Ben says:

    You do understand that ‘wherefore’ doesn’t mean ‘where’, don’t you?

  5. @Ben: I will go ahead and admit that no, I either did not know it meant “why” or I had forgotten, having not read the play in at least 25 years. Although “why” works in its own way.

  6. Kylopod says:

    Wizard of Oz seemed to make that mistake in the song “If I Only Had a Heart.” It’s an old one.

  7. Tlaloc says:

    I think they should start including Zombie Reagan