4/20: Campaign 2012: Obama’s Re-election Chances

President Barack Obama has officially announced that he will seek re-election next year, but he faces an electorate that still needs convincing.  According to this McClatchy-Marist Poll, a plurality of registered voters nationwide — 44% — say they definitely plan to vote against Mr. Obama in 2012.  37% report they definitely plan to vote for him, and 18% are unsure.

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Despite the president’s transition into campaign mode, little has changed on this question since McClatchy-Marist last asked it in November.  At that time, 48% of voters said they will not support the president in his re-election bid while 36% thought they would.  16%, at the time, were unsure.

“The president is hoping lightning strikes in the same place twice,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.  “If there is a silver lining for his re-election, it’s the lack of clarity in the GOP field.”

The president continues to struggle with those all-important independent voters.  47% of these voters say they don’t plan on casting their ballot for Obama while 32% do.  21% are unsure.  In the fall, half — 50% — believed they would back another candidate while three in ten — 30% — reported they would support the incumbent president.  20% were unsure.

Table: Definitely Vote For or Against President Obama in 2012

Romney and Huckabee Close the Gap with Obama… Palin and Trump Trail Far Behind

How do some of the most talked about potential GOP candidates fare against the president?  When given the choice between former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and the president, voters divide.  46% of registered voters say they would back the president while 45% say they would cast their ballot for Romney.  Nine percent are undecided.

When McClatchy-Marist last reported this question in January, Mr. Obama had a 13 percentage point lead over Romney.  At that time, a slim majority — 51% — said they would vote for the president while 38% thought they would back Romney.  11% were undecided.

The president has lost ground among independent voters.  Currently a plurality — 45% — back Romney while 42% support Obama.  13% are undecided.  Previously, the president held a 10 percentage point lead over Romney.

When paired with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, President Obama has a slight lead.  48% of voters say they would support the president in this hypothetical contest while 43% believe they would back Huckabee.  Nine percent are undecided.  However, Huckabee has narrowed the gap.  In McClatchy-Marist’s previous survey, 12 percentage points separated the two.  In January, half of voters — 50% — said Obama was their candidate while 38% said the same about Huckabee.  12% were undecided.

However, Obama outdistances former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.  A majority — 56% — believe they will vote for Obama if Palin receives the Republican nomination.  34%, though, say they will cast their ballot for Palin.  One in ten — 10% — are undecided.  In January, the same proportion of voters — 56% — supported Obama while 30% backed Palin.  13%, at the time, were undecided.

And, there’s been much speculation about a presidential run by businessman Donald Trump.  Is he a strong contender when he’s toe-to-toe with President Obama?  In this contest, Obama garners a majority of voters — 54% — to 38% for Trump.  Eight percent are undecided.

Table: 2012 Hypothetical Presidential Tossup: Obama/Romney
Table: 2012 Hypothetical Presidential Tossup: Obama/Romney (Over Time)
Table: 2012 Hypothetical Presidential Tossup: Obama/Huckabee
Table: 2012 Hypothetical Presidential Tossup: Obama/Huckabee (Over Time)
Table: 2012 Hypothetical Presidential Tossup: Obama/Palin
Table: 2012 Hypothetical Presidential Tossup: Obama/Palin (Over Time)
Table: 2012 Hypothetical Presidential Tossup: Obama/Trump

Romney, Huckabee Top Republican Field, But…

The list of Republican names tossed around as possible 2012 presidential candidates is long, but is there one among them who stands out?  Among Republican and Republican leaning independents, this is what the field looks like:

  • 18% for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney
  • 17% for former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee
  • 13% for businessman Donald Trump
  • 9% for former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani
  • 8% for former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin
  • 7% for Texas Congressman Ron Paul
  • 4% for former Georgia Congressman Newt Gingrich
  • 3% for Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann
  • 2% for Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels
  • 2% for Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty
  • 2% for former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum
  • 2% for businessman Herman Cain
  • 1% for Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour
  • 1% for former Utah Governor and current U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman
  • 11% are undecided

Other notable findings:

  • Romney and Huckabee run evenly among Republicans with 19% each.
  • Huckabee is the favorite among Tea Party supporters with 20%.
  • Trump tops the list among Republican leaning independents with 18%.

Table: 2012 Republican Presidential Primary
Previous Survey Results for the 2012 Republican Presidential Primary

McClatchy-Marist Methodology