Washington (CNN) - It's the most talked about of all the hypothetical 2012 presidential matchups: President Barack Obama vs. former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
And a new poll indicates that Obama leads the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee by 22 points. According to an NBC/Wall Street Journal survey released Wednesday, 55 percent say they would back Obama in a possible 2012 showdown, with 33 percent saying they would support Palin.
Obama's advantage over Palin in the poll is larger than in other recent surveys. The president was up 12 points over Palin in a hypothetical 2012 matchup poll by McClatchy-Marist conducted earlier this month, and he led Palin by eight points in surveys from CNN/Opinion Research Corporation and from Quinnipiac University that were conducted last month.
The NBC/WSJ poll indicates that Obama holds a 20 point lead over Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, who's also considering a bid for the GOP presidential nomination, and has a seven point advantage over 2008 Republican White House candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who appears to be gearing up for another bid.
The survey suggests that one reason why Palin doesn't perform as well as others against Obama is her negative rating, which has climbed to 50 percent, higher than anyone else measured in the poll. NBC's political unit points out that the only major subgroups that Palin captures in a head to head matchup with Obama are Republicans and conservatives.
According to the survey, in a showdown with an un-named GOP challenger, 42 percent say they would vote for Obama in 2012, with 39 percent saying they would vote for the Republican.
Forty-two percent of people questioned in a Bloomberg National Poll conducted earlier in December said the president deserves to be re-elected, with 45 percent saying Obama does not deserve another term in the White House.
The NBC/WSJ poll was conducted Dec. 9-13, with 1,000 people questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.