It was a rough cycle in 2010, but the odds seem favorable for Obama in 2012, based on some early polling -- including some figures that frankly surprised me.
One the perils of being a liberal is that we always seem to think we're isolated from the American people. It's not a crisis of principle -- we think we're right, of course -- we just tend to think of ourselves as members of a small, enlightened minority. It's a theme hammered in relentlessly by the media ("Liberal coastal latte-sipping elites can't connect with real Americans!"), and trap I fall into myself, sometimes.
So while I like President Obama quite a bit, after months of coverage wherein Obama was persistently referred to as an out-of-touch, distant, elitist, socialist, Marxist, fascist, pick-your-favorite-ist, enemy of America -- I figured that most Americans didn't really like Obama much anymore, personally or professionally.
But that's only half true. Obama's job approvals have been hovering in the mid-40s for months. But his personal approvals are still sky-high -- 72%. Of course, Republicans still loathe him, and being personally-liked doesn't secure re-election by any means (folks could think he's a decent-enough guy who's in over his head). But it's a far more resilient number than I would have expected.
And it seems to be bearing out when you do some early head-to-heads. Put Obama against Mitt Romney -- a generic "known" Republican, and he's up 47-40. Not fabulous to be under 50%, but still a decent spread. Obama versus a generic unknown Republican -- played helpfully by Sen. John Thune (R-SD) -- and you get Obama ahead by 47-27.
So the baseline right now seems to be that at least 47% of the country would vote for Obama right now against your typical Republican. But what about against the Ice Queen herself, Sarah Palin? Once again, my fear of being out-of-touch rears its head -- sure, I detest the former half-term Governor, but is that just me?
Looks like it's not. Obama trounces Palin, 55-33. That's a rather massive leap. Republicans may be enamored with their last VP nominee, but the country can't stand her. And she manages to give Obama an 8 point bump above his baseline score.