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Obama in Good Shape for 2012 Despite Current Woes, Poll Finds

3 years ago
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His party got hammered in the midterm election, he's taking heat from fellow Democrats for compromising with Republicans on taxes, and his job approval levels are hovering around 45 percent, but a new survey concludes President Obama's prospects for re-election in 2012 are fairly strong. Conversely, Sarah Palin's numbers continue to be weak.

The Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll out Thursday finds while only 42 percent of respondents say they'd probably vote for the president if he runs again, just 39 percent say they'd vote for a Republican. Ten percent say it depends who the GOP opponent is.

But when you put a Republican name into the equation, the numbers change -- in favor of Obama. The president leads former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney 47 to 40 percent. Sen. John Thune of South Dakota trails by 20 points, 47 to 27 percent.

In fairness to the Republicans, voters are a long way from Election Day 2012, and GOP unannounced potential challengers such as Thune are handicapped in mock head-to-head match-ups because their names are much less known than the president's. But name identification is hardly Sarah Palin's problem -- and the president leads the former Alaska governor, 55 to 33 percent.

NBC's polling analysts say that this 22 percent spread is "an indication that the former Republican vice presidential nominee remains a polarizing figure who actually wins support for Mr. Obama." The survey finds that nearly three-quarters of Americans personally like the president, even if they don't agree with his stands on the issues.

Democratic pollster Peter Hart tells NBC the White House can see this poll as a pretty good review at the halfway point of his first term.

"From my point of view, this poll is anything but a lump of coal in the president's Christmas stocking," said Hart, who conducted the survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff. "But there is a lot of work to be done."

McInturff concludes Obama "retains very strong numbers with a political core constituency."

Read the full WSJ/NBC poll here (.pdf).

Another poll out Thursday gauged Obama's re-election chances in eight swing states, most of which he won in 2008: Montana, Virginia, North Carolina, Missouri, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Ohio. The Public Policy Polling survey found the president's chances remain good in each state, with Romney the potential candidate who could put up the best fight for Republicans.

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