President Obama has gotten no bounce from his reelection campaign announcement, with his job approval rating dropping by 7 percentage points since January, his personal popularity at a career low and 57 percent of Americans disapproving of his handling of the economy. Yet he leads the potential GOP field.
There are chances for the Republicans in next year's elections, with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, in particular, nipping close to Obama in the latest ABC News-Washington Post poll. Economic pessimism, its highest in two years amid soaring gas prices, raises serious political peril for the president. But he benefits from two factors: personal approval that, while down, still exceeds his job rating, and substantial doubts about the opposing party's lineup.
Forty-three percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say they're satisfied with the choice of candidates for the GOP nomination for president next year, compared with 65 percent satisfaction with the field at exactly this point four years ago. Nearly as many leaning-Republicans are dissatisfied with the field as are satisfied, and far more have no opinion of their potential candidates: 17 percent now vs. 3 percent at this point in 2007.
Some of this likely reflects the late-breaking lineup, with none of the potential major GOP candidates yet to join the race officially. By this time in 2007, all but Sen. John McCain of Arizona were in, and he joined a week later.
In any case, the Republican options haven't lit any fires. Asked whom they'd support for the nomination today, a third of leaning-Republicans have no preference and 12 percent say they wouldn't support anyone. Sixteen percent back Romney in this poll, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates. All other possible runners are in single digits: businessman Donald Trump, 8 percent; Huckabee, 6 percent; former Alaska Gov. and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, 5 percent; others, 2 percent or less.
Trump, while far from broadly popular, is a newly launched possible candidate who possesses celebrity and a willingness to wade into controversy by, for example, questioning Obama's nationality. A television personality and wealthy real estate developer, he does best (14 percent support) among leaning-Republicans with incomes exceeding $100,000 a year. He also does slightly better with strong supporters of the Tea Party political movement, who hold Obama in particular antipathy.
Romney, for his part, does well among more-educated leaning-Republicans (29 percent support among college graduates vs. 11 percent among non-graduates) and among those with higher incomes (30 percent among leaning-Republicans with incomes more than $100,000). A Mormon, he gets as much support from evangelical as from non-evangelical Protestants. But there's a hint in the data that he might do slightly better with moderates than with conservatives in the party, a potential challenge in low-turnout primaries where conservatives tend to dominate.
Compared with four years ago, satisfaction with the choice of candidates is lower especially among higher-income and more-educated leaning-Republicans. And satisfaction today is lower among moderate Republicans (35 percent satisfied) than among conservatives, 47 percent. Compared with 2007, though, it's down sharply in both groups.
2012 Presidential Matchups