Unpopular President Still Favored for Re-Election

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 22 2010 2:33 PM

Unpopular President Still Favored for Re-Election

The headline from the new Quinnipiac poll is "Americans don't want second term for Obama," or something like that. If you really want the traffic, it's "PALIN IN SINGLE-DIGIT DOGFIGHT WITH BARRY SOETORO." But the numbers are a lot more promising for Obama if you put them in a historical context.

What do I mean? Here are the top-line Quinnipiac results that pit him against top Republicans.

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Barack Obama 44
Mitt Romney 45

Barack Obama 46
Mike Huckabee 44

Barack Obama 48
Sarah Palin 40

Barack Obama 45
Mitch Daniels 36

For comparison, polling after the 1994 midterms had Bill Clinton -- who, unlike Barack Obama, never won a majority of the popularity vote -- trailing Bob Dole by 10 points in a possible match-up. The Quinnipiac poll has Obama's favorable rating at a wan 48 percent, and voters holding higher opinions of the GOP than of the Democrats. But with unemployment at 9.6 percent and his party battered and pathetic, Obama shouldn't be tying or beating every one of the other side's hopefuls. He is. You understand why earlier today, John Boehner's Twitter account passed on a story about projections keeping unemployment above 8 percent by the end of 2012. It falls faster than that and Obama gets tough to beat.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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