November 4th, 2010
06:00 AM ET
12 years ago

CNN Poll: Obama vs. Palin in 2012?

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.

Filed under: 2012 • CNN Polls • President Obama • Sarah Palin
soundoff (82 Responses)
  1. Chuck Anaheim, Ca

    All conjecture at this point. I do believe that the republicant tea party will show their true facsist colors at some point in the next year or so and try to give a nice sweetheart deal to one of the many multi-nationals that help the get elected this term. Dont think so? If you believe that the billions that were spent to get these people elected was just "free" money from the USCOC, China, India, or any of the others that spent so heavily without some kind of corporate entitlement hand out I have a nice tract of land to sell you in the middle of Death Valley that is just like a Hawain beach resort for 50 bucks.

    November 4, 2010 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  2. David

    Ok- now that we've all had a good laugh- consider that 40% of the idiots in Delaware actually voted for O'Donnell. These same idiots are the ones who think that Palin would be a good choice. They are also the ones who obviously have the shortest attention spans and memories and can't remember that it was the GOP who drove the USA off a cliff in the first place. They need to wake the hell up.

    November 4, 2010 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  3. glib lib

    Obama would demolish this poor woman in any election. She was in waaaaay over her head when she ran with McCain and would be even deeper if she made a bid for President. She reminds the average voter of them selves, that's why people like her, but what people are forgetting is that the average voter has no business holding public office. We elected Bush because he was "one of us" and look where that got us. The best way to get Obama elected for a second term, nominate Mama Grizzly herself, Sarah Palin, and watch the moderate Republicans run for shelter under the Democratic tent.

    November 4, 2010 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  4. slipthalo

    She's going to run – make no doubt about it. If the Republicans have any semblance of br@ins, they won't make her their nominee but we've seen some of their candidates in the midterms so they could put her name up for the 2012 general election. Of course, she's not prepared nor is she even close to being able to run this country in any way. G00fy could do it as well as her.

    November 4, 2010 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  5. Doles

    I'll be the first one to condemn myself for what I'm going to say here because I shouldn't have read and responded to this. First of all, kudos to the polls. I think it's preposterous to say that polls, other than the ones such as Rasmussen that are mostly skewed to drive narratives, are mostly wrong. Having said this, I think I see why we are such a crazy society. When you sadly have people in position to educate others such as those who conducted the polls mentioned in this article, you wonder what about the normal person who only gets his/her information from them. I mean, how crazy is it to be having polls now about 2012? What the hell have we become? So we're going to spend the next two years worrying about polls instead of having people governing, huh? You think anything done will not be based on polls? I feel sad for the ones who are going to really pay attention to this nonsense. I guess you have to do whatever will put food on your table. Good luck but understand this is really the dumbing down of the public unless you really believe that's warranted...which confirms my point that you're really crazy then God help us all! Boy, we'll elect Sarah Palin someday!

    November 4, 2010 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  6. A little sad

    Oh, pretty please!

    November 4, 2010 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  7. Linda in FL

    If she is elected I have my passport current. We will move elsewhere. It is bad enough we are stuck with Scott the theif and Rubio.

    November 4, 2010 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  8. dblzap

    After this election its not hard to believe that sara would stand a chance

    America showed how believability STUPID they are by putting the IDIOTS who put our economy into this mess back into power, why not put a CLUELESS IDIOT in the white house, after all they did keep Bush in power twice!

    November 4, 2010 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  9. Mike

    Would love to see Failn run in 2012, country could use someone like Obama for a second term.

    November 4, 2010 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  10. william

    You have to be kidding. I hope it comes true because I personally know republicans that will not vote for her, they have said that she needs to bow out of the picture. She is a total distraction for the republican party. She is not smart enough to be president.

    November 4, 2010 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  11. abe

    Obama versus Palin. Some body must be ignorant to even think Palin does not has the know how about the political arena of our world and knowledge/ expertise how to run a country. She could not even run her own state and trying to compare her with Obama is a joke. Thanks to the Tea Party she made a name for herself and the people that listen to her are as ignorant as she is. Sorry for my choice of words but if you listen to her she is not coming up with a different solution to help the country. She is only playing the same old song that sounds like a broken record. No wonder the president refuses to talk to her because she number one she has no respect for the presidency and Obama. The people in the Tea Party who think she is smart or followed her lead in the mid-term election will find out in the near future that she is not as bright as they think she is. She has no place in the presidency an she will never become president. Obama/ Palin give me a break. God bless our country.

    November 4, 2010 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  12. Anonymous

    Palin will never be president because she too dumb and simple minded. Somebody please tell that woman to go back to school. Hell my momma raised 4 kids as single parent and went back to college when she was 35 years old and has a bachelor and masters degree and now she 75 years old. Its never too late return to school. Palin is the biggest con artist and crook in the gop. She done got rich spreading fear and decite while milking vunderable citizens out of their pensions. All she know is stale 2008 gop talking points-no substance or real solutions for america.

    November 4, 2010 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  13. anagram_kid

    She will run, bag a whole lot of coin and then drop out before the first primary debate blaming the media for being unfair to her family. Face it folks, all she really wants money and pity.

    November 4, 2010 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  14. ken

    This is the Greed Over People (GOP)way, don't worry about fixing what's going on with the economy, just worry about the next election!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 4, 2010 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  15. paul

    I think the country needs this match up. Palin wants to return to the glory days of yesteryear and Obama wants to move the country forward. Let the people decide which direction they want the country to go. I think the real entertainment will be watching the Republicans battle it out. My guess is that Palin will not be able to stand the criticism she will get from her own party and may up starting her own tea party. Late night comedy just got their material for the next two years.

    November 4, 2010 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  16. sara

    All the American people do, is elect these folk so they can campaign for the next election. When do they do what they get paid for. In the private sector, I would be fired for not doing my job.

    November 4, 2010 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  17. Amused

    Exactly the reason she should NOT run. Too polarizing. You want the Repub ticket to beat Obama? Romney for Pres; Pawlenty for Vice Pres.

    November 4, 2010 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  18. Rick McDaniel

    Anyone who runs against Obama in 2012, will likely be elected, no matter who they are.

    November 4, 2010 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  19. Seattle Sue

    Please let Palin get the nomination. But wait, I didn't think the dingbats could possibly get many votes. I'm still amazed that Angle,O'Donnell,Busk,Paul ,Paladino and more got any votes at all.

    November 4, 2010 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  20. Bob Texas

    It is amazing how quickly the public got on the complaining wagon of the GOP headed by Palin. Not 2 years in office and the world had come to an end. I wonder about the maturity of our country. That being said if the GOP wants to lose put in Palin it will be a landslide victory for the Democrats.

    November 4, 2010 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  21. AB Baltimore MD

    I hope Guiliani is wrong and that Sarah Palin has the sense not to run. She lacks the requisite attributes and knowledge of a credible candidate for POTUS. This woman is not well read, nor is she well traveled and lacks the politcal savy to be an effective and serious leader. If the Republican party nominates Palin to run, they would effectively give the presidency to Barack Obama for a second term, because he would crush her like a grape.

    November 4, 2010 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  22. Sniffit

    Obama would make Nixon and Reagan's margin of victory look pathetic.

    I can't wait!

    November 4, 2010 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  23. lac

    first off, i cant see her running because she doesnt know anything, she's not book smart and i also cant see her talking to world leaders unless she give them tips on killing a turkey or moose.

    November 4, 2010 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  24. dominickspez

    More likele neither will be on the ticket. Dems need a stronger more believable candidate. Obama shows no signs of change or compromise and if it continues he won't get the party nod. My money is on a return of Bill Clinton , Hillary is too tied up in Obama's mess. For the Repubs , forget Palin, she lost when she quit be Gov. Americans don't like quitters to be in charge. You can also forget all the past contenders, expect a new challenger to rise within the party on their newfound strength.

    November 4, 2010 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  25. ThinkAgain

    He would mop the floor with her.

    Palin = Quitter, Liar, Mooch

    November 4, 2010 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
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