Washington (CNN) – His party got its clock cleaned in Tuesday's midterm elections, but according to a new national poll President Obama remains competitive in hypothetical 2012 presidential election matchups, especially against Sarah Palin.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Thursday also indicates that at the unofficial start of the race for the Republican presidential nomination, the field of possible contenders appears wide open with no front-runner.
According to the poll, 21 percent of Republicans say they would most likely support former Arkansas Gov. and 2008 GOP White House candidate Mike Huckabee for their party's 2012 presidential nomination, with 20 percent saying they'd back former Massachusetts Gov. and 2008 Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, 14 percent supporting Palin, the former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, and 12 percent backing former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia.
The remaining candidates whose names were asked in the question were all in single digits, led by Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who also ran for the GOP presidential nomination the last time around, followed by Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana at 3 percent, and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania at 2 percent.
The poll's release comes as Santorum visits New Hampshire to give a speech about the midterm election results and the future of the Republican party. No one has yet to announce a bid for the GOP nomination.
In a possible general election showdown, Obama leads Palin 52-44 percent among all registered voters.
"Looking ahead to 2012, it may be too early to count Barack Obama out, particularly if Sarah Palin is his opponent," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "The former Alaska governor gets a lot of attention, but she is in third place when Republicans are asked to pick a presidential nominee, and in a hypothetical matchup with Obama she is arguably the weakest candidate of the top-tier GOP hopefuls."
In a hypothetical 2012 matchup, Huckabee leads Obama 52 – 44 percent, while Romney has a 50-45 point advantage, which is within the poll's sampling error. Obama hold a 49-47 percent margin over Gingrich.
The poll indicates that four in 10 have a favorable opinion of Palin, with nearly half saying they have an unfavorable view. Romney has a 36 percent favorable rating and a 29 percent unfavorable rating, with 35 percent unsure. Forty-two percent say they see Huckabee in a positive light, with 26 percent saying they hold a negative view and just over three in 10 are unsure. Gingrich has 32 percent favorable rating, with four in 10 saying they have an unfavorable view, and 28 percent unsure.
On the Democratic side, nearly three-quarters of Democrats say they want to see the party renominate Obama in 2012. Why does that matter?
"No incumbent president has faced a significant primary challenge and gone on to win re-election in November. Contested primaries make incumbents look weak and overly-political, and prevent the incumbent from building up goodwill while the opposition party candidates are fighting among themselves," Holland added.
Avoiding a primary challenge won't guarantee Obama victory in November 2012, but the fact that 73 percent of Democrats want to see the party renominate Obama may scare off any Democrats who are contemplating a run against him, and that gets him one step closer to a second term.
The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll was conducted October 27-30, before the midterm elections, with 921 registered voters, including 500 respondents who describe themselves and Republicans or independents who lean Republican, and 453 respondents who describe themselves as Democrats or independents who lean Democratic, questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.
CNN also conducted exit polls on election day in the some of the states that vote first in the presidential primary calendar. In Iowa, 21 percent of Republicans questioned as they exited the voting booth said that Romney was their likely choice in the 2012 Iowa caucuses, with Huckabee also at 21 percent, Palin at 18 percent, Gingrich at 7 percent and one in five saying they would support another possible candidate.
In New Hampshire, 39 percent of Republicans say that Romney is their likely choice in the state's primary, with Palin at 18 percent, Huckabee at 11 percent, Gingrich at eight percent and 19 percent saying they would back another possible contender.
Twenty-five percent of South Carolina Republicans say Palin would be their likely primary choice, followed by Huckabee at 24 percent, Romney at 21 percent and Gingrich at 10 percent.
–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.
The Republicans need to make Sarah Palin go away, she's bad for the party!
Oh please give it up. This woman couldn't get her boy toy miller in AK get elected. If the people of Alaska woke up and want her back in Idaho and out of AK shouldn't we be doing the same?
Isn't there an island off the AK coast near Russia where she and her trashy family can go spawn? Not that they go to school or do anything worthwhile.
SC people please shut up!!! You have been the butt of the most delicious stories in recent history dealing with adultery, whoring and who else knows what goes on in your backwards state.
I'm a Republican and I can assure you I am no fan of Obama's, but I can also say that in an election between him and Miss Alaska, I'd vote for Obama any day.
Gee Whiz already I figured this would happen 1 day out of midterms and the press and the pundits are at it again! Can you just SHUT UP and GIVE EVERYONE A REST FROM THIS! Of course Americans will vote for this dingbat. Look at some of the elected people from yesterday. I live in wisconsin and we have a "businessman" whose roofing crews are staffed by Illegals and he even got elected I am truly beginning to belive most americans are simply stupid and very short sighted.
Sarah Palin deep down inside has got to know that she is not political material. If she runs this will defenitly be comical! GO Sarah GO! I can't wait to see this landslide!
Oh CNN you're such a propaganda machine. You managed to get the stupid republicans re-elected by constantly showcasing the tea party and never do any fact checking when the republicans and the tea baggers spread lies. Now you're already seeding the ground for a republican president by your constant polling. LEAVE THE PRESIDENT ALONE!!! You see if he loses (which he won't) he will still be fine as he is intelligent and has a wonderful family. The people though will have the worst they could get.... A liar, con-artist and a war mongering republican president. Shame on you CNN!!!
Sarah Palin will win in 2012 when she leaps over the liberal media trying to destroy her message in restoring America. A President Sarah Palin is the leader America needs now!!
Republicans better wake up and get rid of Palin from their ticket because this woman will bring down their party to the bottom again......As an independent I will not vote for her or any ticket that has her on it....as bad as the economy and finding jobs maybe, I will vote for Obama before I will vote for her or any of the Repubicans that support this woman.
For those of you wishing that ol' SP from the North should run for president and look laughable during press interviews and debates, just remember who got elected in 2000....with the same credentials....
Can't wait for her to get beat down.
Mr president get while you're ahead especially since these folks now know you have turned the country around and have us going in the right direction. They have sabotage the country by voting to turn the country around back to where you and the dems brought us from just to get rid of you. You are not Clinton have you ever took a look in the mirror lately do you really think the repugs are going to work with you did you noticed the historical slam these folks gave you yesterday even though you was doing a great job in just 20 months. What do you think they will do to the repugs if they ever compromise with none of your policies, they send the repugs to repeal all your policies for crying out loud. They don't care how good it is or how many people it saves or even when we slide back into caps they just can't see past a colour
What CNN is not telling us it that Palin's poll numbers are coming up. Obama use to lead by a margin of 52% to 38%. Amazing rise condsidering Gov. Palin has not been giving interviews nationally. Those numbers will rise even more when she runs because she will granting interviews to CNN and other news organizations. Palin still lives under the filter of the national news. We have to remember she had 4 days to get up to speed during the 08 election.
I couldn't imagine a better scenario for Obama to win re-election. Run Sarah, Run!
Please run, Sarah. The humor factor alone will be priceless...
my country men and women you have lost your minds and you are no more than a third world country and the laughing stock of the planet so thanks repubilcans and Democrats you need to smarten up and stop looking at the polls. and fix your damm infrastructure get comprensive health care with a public option hell should be the only option.but you people are to scared of that regulate your finacial instiutions and educate your children so they dont grow up as dumb and narrow minded as their parents who dont realize theirs a big world out their with lots of great idea's with a better standerd of living
Quitting your job is not a good qulaification to have on your resume Stupid Sarah. Besides for you being a racist pig, your just plain dumb. You don;t belong on the same stage as the President, let alone the same headline. But go ahead and run stupid so we can get rid of you once and for all.
Obama has done an excellent, if not, perfect job. Two years of the turn the clock backward Republicans should open some voter's eyes.
Two people full of rhetoric and catch-phrases but no real plan or any good ideas. Guaranteed the media won`t expose their combined stupidity but will play one off the other for ratings and the citizens of this country will fall for it.
simply talking of this women running for any office makes me wonder WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH US
President Palin? That's a good time, not to leave America, but planet Earth, because we would definitely be entering an end of days scenario.
Oh, God, NO! If, by some means (like all the other Republican candidates die in a plane crash on the way to the Convention) she wins the Nomination and Karl Rove conceded and makes sure she wins the Presidency, I think I will move to someplace safer and more politically stable, like Kandahar Province!
Those debates would provide the best TV entertainment in the fall 2011 season.
I would rather have a intelligent President than a dumb one. Look everyone, Palin's pick was not chosen in Alaska (a write in was picked), so I would say the Alaskan people have shown you what they think of Palin. That should give you the answer as to whom is intelligent and whom is dumb.
If Palin is Obama's opponent, then Obama has won a second term. The question changes with different opponents. I would think that Romney or Gingrich would make it a harder fight. Huckabee could pose a problem as well, but I don't think that he would make it that far.
CNN – don’t do it!!! Do not start the hype about the presidential election2012! There is work to be done to bring the country forward! Let’s concentrate and report on the work that is proposed/done by Republicans and Democrats in the next year (preferably in the next 18 months) before starting the election/polling circus! If you (CNN) want to do something useful, helpful, interesting, note worthy, go into the problems/solutions, fact checking! Please, DO NOT lose yourselves again in presumptions, contaminations, uncritical, belligerent, nit-picking, sweet-talk, primitive, reporting on topics that are very IMPORTANT to our country. Distinguish between “entertainment”, “showbiz”, “gossip”, “opinion”, “commentary”! When it comes to NEWS, please fact-check stories! Put things into context of their IMPORTANCE; not HYPING THINGS UP and throwing things simply out there as if they were true! There are quite a few stations that show no responsibility and are, frankly, just lying the blue from the sky! You want to stay (become again!) a serious, relevant news-network? Then you have a lot of work to do!!!