A new Fox News poll delivered some surprising news, as 52% of those surveyed believed that President Obama will win reelection in 2012.
The latest Fox News poll showed Obama leading Romney by a single point in the head to head match up (46%-45%), but a deeper look inside the numbers revealed why the hypothetical head to heads don’t come close to telling the real story.
Obama’s approval rating has gained a net five points, while Romney’s has gained a net three points. Mitt Romney currently has a 25 point national lead over his nearest competitor for the Republican nomination, but there are red flags everywhere concerning the GOP’s 2012 prognosis if the current GOP frontrunner is their nominee.
Even though there have been dozens of GOP debates and the race for the nomination is in full swing, voter enthusiasm for the 2012 election is going down. The number of respondents who were extremely interested fell from 33%-32%. The number of respondents who described themselves as very interested increased from 32%-34%, and those who consider themselves somewhat interested experienced the biggest jump from 24%-28%.
Most tellingly when Romney supporters were asked if their vote was a vote for Romney or a vote against Obama, only 33% said they were voting for Romney. Fifty eight percent of Romney supporters considered their vote a vote against Obama. In contrast, 74% percent of Obama supporters said that their vote was a vote for Obama. Only 21% of Obama supporters considered their vote a vote against Romney.
Republicans are walking down the same path with Mitt Romney that Democrats followed with John Kerry in 2004. A Harris Poll published just before the 2004 election found that 84% of Republicans considered their vote a vote for George W. Bush, while only 58% of Democrats considered their vote a vote for John Kerry. Forty percent of Democrats who voted for Kerry in 2004 considered their vote a vote against George W. Bush.
Just 15% of Republican voters consider Mitt Romney a true conservative and 50% of them don’t consider him the best candidate, just good enough to represent the party. Given the fact that Republicans are clearly setting for Romney, it is no surprise that there isn’t much enthusiasm out there for his candidacy.
The big shock is that by a margin of 52%-42% respondents in the Fox News poll believed that President Obama is going to win a second term. Obama has gained a net 20 points since the last time this question was asked. In September, only 40% of those surveyed thought President Obama was going to win in 2012. Today, 52% think Obama is going to win. In September, thought Obama was not going to in 2012. Today, only 42% believe that Obama is going to lose.
The lack of enthusiasm for Mitt Romney is certainly part of the reason why voters are starting to believe that Obama is going to win reelection, along with an improving economy also makes an Obama win appear more likely.
Republicans are going to vote for Romney because they hate Obama. Democrats tried this same strategy in 2004, and it failed miserably. Without a nominee who can energize the electorate in a positive way, the challenging party is almost certain to face defeat. If Mitt Romney can’t get Republicans and Independents excited about voting for him, he isn’t going to beat Obama.
The problem for Mitt Romney is that he is just kind of there. He doesn’t inspire love in his supporters, or hate in his critics. Because he is going to be the nominee by default, Fox News respondents are probably correct to think that Obama is going to win a second term.
This election is likely to be ugly, but as long as Democratic enthusiasm for voting for Obama remains high, the president has a good chance to win reelection.