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US: National Survey (NationalJournal 1/3-7)

Topics: poll

AllState / National Journal Heartland Monitor
1/3-7/10; 1,200 adults, 2.8% margin of error
Mode: Live telephone interviews
(National Journal: Ronald Brownstein article, results)

National

State of the Country
34% Right Direction, 55% Wrong Track (chart)

Obama Job Approval
47% Approve, 45% Disapprove (chart)

And, if the election for President in 2012 were held today, would you ...?
39% Definitely/Probably vote to re-elect Obama
50% Definitely/Probably vote for someone else

And, in general, who do you trust more to develop solutions to the country's economic challenges... President Obama OR Republicans in Congress?
55% Obama, 26% Republicans in Congress

Had John McCain won the presidency, do you think the policies that he would have pursued over the last 12 months would have left the country in...
36% About the same shape as it is now under Obama
32% Worse shape than it is now under Obama
24% Better shape than it is now under Obama

And, on the topic of health care, as you understand it, do you support or oppose the current legislation to reform health care in the U.S. currently being considered by Congress and the Senate? Do you support/oppose strongly or somewhat?
45% Support, 46% Oppose (chart)

 

Comments
CUWriter:

Congress and the Senate? Seriously? Poll writers need to be taken out back and shot for that one.

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Field Marshal:

And, if the election for President in 2012 were held today, would you ...?
39% Definitely/Probably vote to re-elect Obama
50% Definitely/Probably vote for someone else

That's not good for Obama one bit. Not to mention that 47% approval in an "adults" poll. Ouch.

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Stillow:

No kidding....only 39 would definately vote for him....That is a huge drop from his election number. O is falling like a brick in water. 39 percent is a horrific number for him.

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Wong:

The President has an almost 30 point gap over Republicans in Congress on the economy. As bad as the 39% number is for Obama, Republicans are still not a viable alternative. The brand has been severely damaged and is problematic for the GOP in the upcoming election.

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Xenobion:

Considering the sample population does not reflect the national population that elected Obama I'd say that's one of the flaws of this poll.

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Stillow:

Irrelevant. Millions and millions of voters do not vote for a president, they vote against the other guy....2008 was more a vote against W than it was a vote for O. So if O keeps on this current path of poor leadership and radical left wingdomness then my dopy cat could beat him.

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Xenobion:

Well i'd love to see the lovely field of Republican losers to throw their hat in yet again. As much as people like the dump on Obama there's noone ready to step up that isn't a laughing stock. So far its only Mitt Romney that's positioning and he's still a loser that wouldn't have a chance.

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Stillow:

Again, it doesn't matter to millions of people who the other guy is, they vote against the incumbant if he is doing a crappy job...and O is losing support in all areas.

1980 was more a vote against Carter than it was for Reagan. 1992 was totally more against Bush than for Clinton, ala read my lips. I think 2004 was more against Kerry than actually for Bush, just my opinion.

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Aaron_in_TX:

"it doesn't matter to millions of people who the other guy is, they vote against the incumbant if he is doing a crappy job"

The opponent has to be acceptable. I agree on the 2004 election. Bush made the election about Kerry, less about him. But 1992 included Perot, and he took more or less equal numbers from the D's and R's that year. Reagan did not start leading in 1980 until he showed through the debates that he was an acceptable alternative to Carter. Plus, pretty much everything that could have gone wrong for Carter in 1979/80 did. What happens the year of the election is much more important than what happens the year prior.

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Stillow:

Well someone like Romney is certianly acceptable.

O has real problems i nthe future because off hand I cannot think of a single policy stanc ehe has that actually gets majoirty support i nthe country....from HCR to civillian trials.

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Cyril Washbrook:

And, if the election for President in 2012 were held today, would you ...?
39% Definitely/Probably vote to re-elect Obama
50% Definitely/Probably vote for someone else

That's not good for Obama one bit. Not to mention that 47% approval in an "adults" poll. Ouch.

"Re-elect/someone else" polls always have an inbuilt bias toward the "someone else", even for reasonably popular incumbents. Take a look at this poll on the very popular Collins and Snowe, for example. Collins' approval was 69-26; her re-elect/someone else number was 55-32. Snowe's approval was 70-23; her re-elect/someone else number was 60-30.

The 39-50 number for Obama is, consequently, more or less what you'd expect from a re-elect/somone else question. I explained this on the comments page for another poll a while ago (Deseret's Utah 2010 Senate poll last month), but it's fairly intuitive:

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@Berge: polls which ask people to choose between [x candidate] and "someone new" tend in general to have a skew toward the latter. Only in cases where the incumbent is really popular or where they haven't been in office for very long would you see an endorsement for the "re-elect" option.

If you think about it, it's somewhat intuitive. Let's take your "average", run-of-the-mill incumbent - he or she may have roughly even job approval, or perhaps slightly better than average. Now, let's say you're given the option by a pollster of electing someone else. That pollster doesn't actually nominate anyone else - it's just a hypothetical candidate with any number of undescribed characteristics, vices and virtues. It's quite possible for the respondent to imagine in their minds an idealised candidate: a candidate more appealing and inspiring than the incumbent, and crucially, a "breath of fresh air". Who would you go for - the real incumbent with all their flaws or weaknesses, or the hypothetical candidate who can bring new energy and who may well match your ideals far more closely than the incumbent?

That's not to say that everyone would automatically visualise an ideal candidate, but that's certainly how respondents would lean. It's a lot easier to be attracted to "something new" than to be attracted to a particular, real candidate.

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The question is: is there any candidate that the Republicans could put up who would beat Obama by 11 points? Of course not, as even the most rigid partisan would acknowledge. The trick is never to trust re-elect/someone else questions on face value, whether they're for Republicans or Democrats, presidents or mayors, old candidates or young. They can only give a window into a basic attitude that people have toward politicians: they are always searching for something better.

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Aaron_in_TX:

Good comment, Cyril.

I'll add that "something better" would not be someone like Romney, who lost the primary miserably to McCain in 2008, despite the McCain campaign's turmoil and his money advantage. The GOP's best chance is to nominate someone like Mitch Daniels or John Thune - at this point unknown, but with consistent records of non-tea party conservatism and scandal-free. Both have proximity advantage with Iowa, and Daniels would definitely pull his home state away from Obama. Pawlenty, maybe, but his weakness in his home-state doesn't bode well. The question remains if anyone like this can become a national party leader. So far, they show little organization beyond being "anti-Obama" going into 2010, let alone 2012.

They need a midwestern candidate to counter Obama's strengths in that region, which was the keystone of his electoral coalition.

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