Politico has, today, the type of story that we're going to see repeatedly until Republicans actually, finally, choose a candidate to run against the incumbent president in 2012. How much more meaningless can polling be than polling a presidential contest between the current White House resident and someone who hasn't even declared candidacy and isn't supported - yet - by even all Republicans, let alone independents. This is comparing apples to ... imaginary oranges.
If the presidential election were to happen today, Barack Obama would win eight swing states and one electoral vote-giving congressional district that he won in 2008 but George W. Bush won in 2004, a new poll has found.
Obama would win all his match-ups against four likely presidential candidates — Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney — according to surveys conducted by Public Policy Polling over the last three months.
In Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Nebraska’s second congressional district, Obama would win by an average of seven points.
Romney does the best in match-ups against Obama, trailing by an average of six points. Huckabee trails by eight points, Gingrich by 12 and Palin by 16 points.
I have several thoughts. First, only seven points on average? That should shock the president's team. This is a man who's actually seen his flagging support stabilize and improve slightly, now that, overwhelmingly, the country put a checkrein on his most liberal impulses. And it's seven points against people who haven't declared? Wow.
Second, Ms. Palin only trails by 16 points? That's remarkable, considering the universal media venom spewed upon her every utterance and written word. Sure, she's some things that could be questioned. Who hasn't? But it's not as if she suggested that drugs should be illegal to prevent an economic benefit. Huh? Ms. Palin has also stirred the pot in ways that no other conservative could. "Death panels"* indeed.
Finally, the only reason these polls - and PPP is a Democratic polling firm - are being done is to provide support for the media-preferred narrative of re-election inevitability. There's a certain percentage of the population - 2, 3, 4% - who simply want to know they're voting for the guy/gal who will win. Fewer Democrats and Obama-leaning independents will bother to traipse to the polls if they think their effort is futile. Some polling takes the voters temperature, and some is designed to cool them off or heat them up. This is the latter, and Politico.com is happy to report the narrative.
Call me when one of these candidates officially declares, and I'll open my eyes. Call me again when the campaigning starts and I'll get up from my chair. Call me once more when a Republican frontrunner emerges, and maybe I'll start checking out a poll or two. Until then this falls firmly in the category "propaganda."
*"Death panels" is in quotes because that's how she wrote it in the original