Posted Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2010, at 3:02 PM
Public Policy Polling -- which works for some liberal groups, like Daily Kos, but had fairly solid non-partisan polls in 2010 -- tests potential 2012 candidates against Barack Obama and Virginia. None of them beat him.
Obama leads Mitt Romney (48-43) and Mike Huckabee (49-44) each by 5 points in hypothetical contests, a margin similar to his victory over John McCain in the state. If the Republican nominee was either Newt Gingrich or Sarah Palin Obama's lead widens to 11 points, by spreads of 52-41 and 51-40 respectively.
Obama has pretty good approval numbers in the state with 50% of voters giving him good marks to 45% who disapprove.
The pollster adds the caveat that Obama's re-election chances are all about enthusiasm. We knew that already. But if you parse the 2010 results in Virginia, it's clear that a potential Democratic majority is still workable*. While Democrats lost Rick Boucher's seat they lost a part of southwestern Virginia that had been trending against them for years. When Tom Perriello lost his seat by 4 points, he underperformed his 2008 vote while doing better than John Kerry or Al Gore had done in the district. Meanwhile, Gerry Connolly hold onto the blue-trending seat that captures most of the D.C. suburbs -- exactly the area that Republicans had been mowed down in until the 2009 election, when Bob McDonnell carried it.
*As ever, "if the economy shows signs of recovery and voters feel it." None of this matters for Democrats unless that happens.