Gallup's daily presidential tracking poll pegs Obama's approval rating at a glittering 42 percent -- with 48 percent disapproving -- but PPP's numbers are the bigger story today. Why? Because it includes some tantalizing head-to-head numbers with various Republicans, and because the ugly numbers are coming from a Democrat-aligned polling firm:
Obama's approval rating this month is 46% with 48% of voters disapproving of him. There are 2 things particularly troubling in his numbers: independents split against him by a 44/49 margin, and 16% of Democrats are unhappy with the job he's doing while only 10% of Republicans give him good marks. Obama's numbers are worse than they appear to be on the surface. The vast majority of the undecideds in all of these match ups disapprove of the job Obama's doing but aren't committing to a candidate yet while they wait to see how the Republican field shakes out.
Now take a peek at these head-to-head numbers -- and pay close attention to the president's woeful job approval among undecideds:
-In the Obama/Romney head to head 21% of undecideds approve of Obama and 61% disapprove. If you allocate them based on their approval/disapprove of Obama, Romney would lead 52-48.
-In the Obama/Bachmann head to head 10% of undecideds approve of Obama and 67% disapprove. If you allocate them based on their approval/disapprove of Obama, Obama would lead only 51-49.
-In the Obama/Pawlenty head to head 9% of undecideds approve of Obama and 75% disapprove. If you allocate them based on their approval/disapprove of Obama, the race would be tied at 50%.
-In the Obama/Cain head to head 8% of undecideds approve of Obama and 76% disapprove. If you allocate them based on their approval/disapprove of Obama, Obama would lead only 51-49.
-In the Obama/Palin head to head 5% of undecideds approve of Obama and 84% disapprove. If you allocate them based on their approval/disapprove of Obama, Obama would lead only 54-46.
This allocation method is flawed, obviously, but their extrapolations provide a few lessons: First, who Republicans nominate matters. Undecided voters aren't happy with Obama, but remain dubious of several of the GOP candidates. If his disapproval remains high and the economy continues to stagnate, Obama's only path to victory may mirror Harry Reid's (ie, winning late-breaking moderates who don't think you're doing a good job, but are more uncomfortable with your opponent). Second, President Obama is beatable. The "wait 'til 2016" mentality among some on the Right is badly misplaced. This president can be defeated next year. The independents and undecideds who broke for him in droves back in 2008 are significantly less enthused about doing so this time. Finally, at the moment, Mitt Romney stands alone as the frontrunner in the electability department -- although several of his competitors are nipping at his heels. As I perused this poll, two words kept cropping up in my mind: Rick Perry.
Meanwhile, Republicans and conservatives continue to do a fine job of using the president's own words to remind the public of why his approval rating should be in the toilet.. These types of ads and videos will give Team Obama fits when the general election campaign starts to heat up. From the RNC:
From conservative blogger Ben Howe:
UPDATE - Jim Geragthy points out that the PPP numbers are hideous for Obama despite a ludicrous +11 Democrat sample.