Caribou may worry when they see Sarah Palin coming. Barack Obama, not so much.
The reason: 59 percent of Americans in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll flatly rule out voting for Palin for president -- substantially more than say there's no way they'd vote for Obama, or, for that matter, New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. And Obama leads Palin by a wide margin in current vote preferences, factoring Bloomberg in or out.
It's too early in the 2012 presidential election cycle to make too much of the horse-race results in this poll, produced by Langer Research Associates for ABC News. But the numbers of Americans who say they wouldn't even consider voting for Palin -- and the even larger number who see her as unqualified for the presidency (67 percent in an ABC/Post poll in October) -- indicate serious obstacles in her path, even if not of the antlered variety.
The trends, moreover, are not in Palin's favor. Just over a year ago 53 percent said they wouldn't consider her for president. That's risen, as noted, to 59 percent now, and includes significant chunks of the GOP base, such as 27 percent of John McCain voters, nearly three in 10 Republicans, four in 10 conservatives and four in 10 evangelical white Protestants. About equal numbers of men (58 percent) and women (60 percent) rule Palin out.
Just eight percent of Americans say they'd "definitely" vote for Palin were she to run for president; an additional 31 percent say they'd consider it. But that adds up to just 39 percent who'd even give her a look (41 percent if you count the undecideds) -- well short of what it customarily takes to win the White House, absent an unusually strong third-party candidate.
OBAMA -- In contrast to Palin, 26 percent say they'd definitely vote for Obama for a second term, and an additional 30 percent would consider him -- an available pool of 56 percent (58 percent, with the undecideds thrown in). Despite recent criticisms from his party and its liberal branch, 54 percent of Democrats, 51 percent of liberals -- and 65 percent of liberal Democrats -- say they'd definitely vote to re-elect Obama, along with nonwhites, his most committed groups by far.
Shallow Commitment for Bloomberg
Eighty-two percent of Republicans flatly rule out even considering Obama for re-election, and precisely as many Democrats say there's no way they'd vote for Palin. The difference, as usual in national politics, is independents: 62 percent of them say they would not consider Palin for president; fewer, 40 percent, say no way to Obama.
MAYOR MIKE -- Then there's Bloomberg, New York City's mayor. Very few commit to him now -- 2 percent -- but 46 percent say they'd consider him as an independent candidate for president, and 10 percent aren't sure, for a total possible pool of 58 percent, the same as Obama's. Forty-three percent rule Bloomberg out, again matching Obama.
Interest in Bloomberg, a self-made billionaire, peaks among better-off Americans. Among those with household incomes over $75,000 a year, just 33 percent say they wouldn't consider him. That compares with 48 percent of those with incomes under $35,000.
Democrats also are more apt to count Bloomberg out -- 50 percent say they wouldn't consider him, dropping to 41 percent of independents and 37 percent of Republicans. (Bloomberg ran for mayor as a Republican, but New York City Republicans don't always play off-Broadway, as Rudy Giuliani can attest. In any case, Bloomberg later switched to independent status.)
Bloomberg, it should be noted, said this weekend that he would not run for president, responding to speculation that arose after he gave a centrist speech last week scolding both major parties.
HEAD-TO-HEAD -- In a two-way matchup, the first by ABC and the Post this cycle (and presumably not the last) 54 percent say they'd support Obama for president in 2012, vs. 39 percent for Palin. (It's essentially the same among registered voters, 53-40 percent.)
Adding Bloomberg to the race as an independent makes no substantive difference; he draws equally from Obama and Palin, producing standings of 47-31-18 percent. While far from a winning tally, that 18 percent nearly matches independent Ross Perot's vote total in 1992, the best showing by an independent candidate since Teddy Roosevelt's attempted comeback 80 years earlier.
METHODOLOGY -- This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Dec. 9-12, 2010, among a random national sample of 1,001 adults, including landline and cell-phone-only respondents. Results for the full sample have a 3.5-point error margin. Click here for a detailed description of sampling error. This survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y, with sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, Pa.
ABC News polls can be found at ABCNEWS.com at http://abcnews.com/pollingunit