Darren Richardson

March 22, 2012

As the Republican candidates fight it out to see who will challenge President Obama this fall, the American electorate is now of the opinion that regardless of who wins GOP battle, Obama will be re-elected.

A Harris Interactive Poll surveyed U.S. adults online from March 12-19 and found a 4-point increase in the number of people who believe Obama will win re-election, with 50 percent of those surveyed saying the president would be re-elected and 32 percent saying he would lose. Last month, 46 percent expected Obama to be re-elected, while 37 percent expected him to lose.

But when it comes down to how people said they would actually vote in November, just 45 percent of the respondents said they were likely to vote for the president while 49 percent said they were likely to vote against him. These numbers are virtually identical from last month, when 45 percent said they would vote to re-elect the president and 48 percent said they would vote against re-election.

The poll also found that Obama is not faring so well in potential 2012 swing states, with 49 percent saying they would be unlikely to vote for the incumbent while just 44 percent say they would be likely to support Obama for re-election.

When asked to rate Obama’s overall job as president, far more Democrats (75 percent) than Republicans (7 percent) and independents (33 percent) gave the chief executive a positive rating. When responses from all political ideologies are combined, Obama rates 40 percent positive and 60 percent negative.

In what may signal trouble in terms of having an enthusiastic base come November, just 16 percent of Democrats think Obama is doing an excellent job, while roughly 58 percent say he is doing “pretty good.” Contrast that with the numbers among independent voters, which show that just 7 percent of that group says Obama is doing an excellent job while 26 percent say he is doing pretty well.

On the other hand, 36 percent of independent voters say Obama is doing a “poor” job while 31 percent say his performance as president is “only fair.”

The Harris numbers come at a time when former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is closing in on the halfway mark for delegates needed to win the Republican nomination. Despite the low approval ratings reflected in the Harris poll, Obama has been faring well in head-to-head matchups with Romney. As of March 22, Obama leads Romney by 4.5 points in the Real Clear Politics average of the latest polls, 48.3 percent to 43.8 percent.

To put that in perspective, a CNN/USA Today poll in March of 1996 found that then-President Bill Clinton would beat then-GOP front-runner Sen. Bob Dole, 54 percent to 42 percent. Clinton eventually won a three-way race that included Reform Party candidate Ross Perot. The popular vote totals of that election shwo that Clinton recieved 49.2 percent, Dole pulled 40.7 percent and Perot captured 8.4 percent.

An Associated Press poll in March of 2004 found then-President George W. Bush leading the Democratic front-runner, Sen. John Kerry, 46 to 45 percent. Bush went on to win a close race with Kerry, gaining 50.7 percent of the popular vote to Kerry’s 48.3 percent in what was essentially a two-man race.

When likely Libertarian nominee and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson was added as a choice in February Public Policy Institute poll, he received 7 percent support. In that poll, Obama got 47 percent, Romney received 40 percent, and 6 percent were undecided.


Real Clear Politics GOP delegate count

Half of Americans believe Obama will be re-elected in November, PR Newswire, March 22, 2012

Clinton leads Dole, poll says, The Rochester Sentinel, March 19, 1996

Bush, Kerry tied in poll, USA TODAY, March 5, 2004

Additional sources linked to in text.

If you like writing about U.S. politics and the 2012 campaign, enter "The American Pundit" competition. Allvoices is awarding four $250 prizes each month between now and November. These monthly winners earn eligibility for the $5,000 grand prize, to be awarded after the November election.


Follow PundittyProject on Twitter

The Punditty Project on Facebook

Punditty on Allvoices.com