I realize that I probably ought to at least feign interest in 2012 presidential polls, but the obvious fact is that the world is going to look different when the race starts in earnest at some point in 2011. A poll today doesn’t tell us that much, and it’s near-impossible to predict the tastes and preferences of Republicans two and a half years from now.
Clarus says Mitt Romney leads with 30 percent, and in a time of economic crisis, a preference for the entrepreneur is not surprising. Mike Huckabee is second with 22 percent, and that’s about what one would expect. (Any chance he enjoys his Fox News show so much he decides not to run in 2012?) Sarah Palin comes in third with 18 percent; I’ll be very surprised if she runs. Newt Gingrich is fourth with 15 percent, and Bobby Jindal brings up the rear at 4 percent; due to the near-impossibility of managing both a national campaign and his gubernatorial duties, and Louisianans’ limited patience for a distracted chief executive, I don’t think Jindal will run. (He seems like the type to finish two terms and run on his record.)
Unsurprisingly, at least to me, at this point all of those figures trail Obama by a significant margin.
But Clarus also polled on the president’s overall approval and health care, and found bushels of ominious news for the president:
President Obama’s sliding job rating is real and not just a temporary blip. His numbers have gradually eroded since May. In this survey, he’s dipped slightly below 50% on overall approval and slightly below 40% on handling health care, which is dragging him down.
Troubling for Obama is his standing among independents. His overall approval number among this critical swing constituency is 43%. In 2008, he beat John McCain among independents 52-44%. Independents think Obama is intelligent, honest and truthful, and many still see him as a strong leader, but large majorities think he’s trying to do too much too fast, spending too much, growing government too much, and likely to raise taxes.
On health care, Obama’s approval/disapproval split is 39 percent to 48 percent. Among independents, 41 percent say he’s doing right things on the economy; 34 percent think he’s keeping all his promises.