In the poll, Obama lags the two leading Republican rivals in the 12 states likely to determine the outcome of a close race in November:
•Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum tops Obama 50%-45% in the swing states. Nationwide, Santorum's lead narrows to 49%-46%.
•Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney edges Obama 48%-46% in the swing states. Nationwide, they are tied at 47% each.
The battleground states surveyed include Michigan — where Tuesday's primary has become a critical showdown between Romney and Santorum — as well as Ohio and Virginia, which vote next week on Super Tuesday. The other swing states are Colorado, Iowa, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
What's a key driver of the president's unpopularity? His signature "achievement," of course:
The health care overhaul that President Obama intended to be the signature achievement of his first term instead has become a significant problem in his bid for a second one, uniting Republicans in opposition and eroding his standing among independents. In a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll of the nation's dozen top battleground states, a clear majority of registered voters call the bill's passage "a bad thing" and support its repeal if a Republican wins the White House in November. Two years after he signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act— and as the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments about its constitutionality next month — the president has failed to convince most Americans that it was the right thing to do.Though the law has avid supporters, especially in the president's Democratic base, the net effect among middle-of-the-road voters is negative for him. What's more, the issue unites the GOP when the party is fractured among competing presidential contenders.
Ed Morrissey reminds us that the bill was intentionally front-loaded with poll-tested benefits (allowing "children" to remain on their parents' plan through age 26) in an attempt to enhance the law's early popularity. What will these numbers will look like in 2013 and 2014, when many of Obamacare's unappealing elements (coverage mandates, middle class tax increases, costly subsidies, etc.) kick in -- conveniently after Obama's re-election campaign? Just last week we discovered yet another unhappy surprise buried within the law:
Medical costs for enrollees in the health-care law’s high-risk insurance pools are expected to more than double initial predictions, the Obama administration said Thursday in a report on the new program. The health-care law set aside $5 billion for a Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, meant to provide health insurance to those who had been declined coverage by private carriers. Since its launch last summer, nearly 50,000 Americans have enrolled in the program. Those who have enrolled in the program are projected to have significantly higher medical costs than the government initially expected. Each participant is expected to average $28,994 in medical costs in 2012, according to the report, more than double what government-contracted actuaries predicted in November 2010. Then, the analysts expected that the program would cost $13,026 per enrollee.
Go figure. Another -- intentional? -- Obamacare accounting error. Once the law imposes its 'guaranteed issue' (no denial of coverage) and 'community rating' (price controls) provisions on insurance companies in 2014, there's a very good chance that premiums will spike even more than we've already seen post-passage. $2.5 Trillion and counting, guys. Good times. I'll leave you with the following clip, which parodies the movie trailer for The Artist, which took home Best Picture honors at last night's Academy Awards. It's a little campy and doesn't shy away from cheap shots -- the nose pick and head bump shots come to mind -- but it's still relatively entertaining and timely:
As I wrote last week, the election remains a political eternity away, and polls will bounce all over the place between now and November. But let's dispense with the notion that Obama is unbeatable, and that none of the GOP candidates have what it takes to supplant him. As conservatives remain fractured by contested primary, Obama's been boosted by some illusory and fleeting economic news -- yet he's still losing at this point.
UPDATE - Via Gallup:
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography