Daniel Doherty

Although many voters in Republican circles are disappointed about Congressman Paul Ryan’s decision not to run for president, I agree with Guy’s earlier analysis that entering the race at this particular time could have been politically premature. In an ever-increasing primary field filled with adept and experienced politicians, Representative Ryan could better serve the nation in Congress as chairman of the House Budget Committee. While I admire his courage and recognize his abilities as a leader, it is worth noting that there has only been one sitting U.S. Representative in American history to win the presidency. His late entrance into the race, moreover, would have also been a difficult obstacle to overcome -- despite his many years of public service on Capitol Hill.

That being said, however, a new Gallup poll released today suggests that four Republican candidates, including two representatives, would be competitive against President Obama if the 2012 presidential election was held today. According to the poll conducted August 17-18, former Governor Mitt Romney leads President Obama by two percentage points, 48% to 46%. Rick Perry, whose Texas swagger and ebullient speeches have catapulted him onto the national stage, is statistically even with the president at 47%. Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann, who are becoming vastly popular and increasingly more competitive among registered voters, trail Barack Obama by only two and four percentage points, respectively.

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After reviewing these findings, one thing is absolutely clear: there is no overwhelming consensus among registered voters that Barack Obama deserves to be reelected:

These prospective election ballots -- measured Aug. 17-18, well over a year before the Nov. 6, 2012, election -- indicate that the race for president at this point is generally competitive, with voters fairly evenly divided in their preference for giving Obama a second term or electing a Republican candidate. Even though the four Republican candidates tested have varying degrees of name recognition, they all fare roughly the same.

Gallup's generic presidential ballot -- measured six times this year -- shows a close race between Obama and a generic "Republican presidential candidate," although there have been survey-to-survey variations on this measure, with the Republican candidate leading in June and July.

In my view, this poll indicates that public sentiment has shifted to the point where President Obama’s reelection is far from certain. Over the past few months, his political support, especially among wealthy donors, has been on the decline. Moreover, if our anemic economy fails to grow over the next fifteen months – and large percentages of Americans are still unable to find work – Republicans will be in a much stronger position to reclaim the White House irrespective of who wins the nomination.


Daniel Doherty

Daniel Doherty is Townhall's Deputy News Editor. Follow him on Twitter @danpdoherty.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography