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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

2012 Head-to-Heads: Not Much Variation, Even in the Bushes

It’s not clear just yet that “electibility” is going to be an overriding factor in the Republican 2012 presidential nominating contest, partly because so many Republicans are convinced that electibility and ideological coherence are the same thing, and partly because they think the election will be a referendum on a “failed” Obama administration. But it’s always useful to keep an eye on head-to-head trial polls pitting the president against this or that would-be successor, and PPP has a new batch out that are quite interesting.
Against the five best known GOP probables, Obama leads Huckabee by three points, Romney by five, Gingrich and Ron Paul by nine, and Palin by twelve. But in terms of positive support for the five GOPers, there’s surprisingly little variation: just five points between Paul’s 39% and Huck’s 44%. Meanwhile, a “generic” Republican candidate would get 47%, tying Obama (and a generic “moderate” Republican, not that there’s any such thing these days, would receive 46%, actually leading Obama by two points).
The other interesting finding involves someone rarely tested in polls, but who is the object of intense longing and speculation among many conservatives (most notably the folks at National Review, who devoted much of a recent issue to an effort to get him to consider running): Jeb Bush. In a trial heat with Obama, Jebbie lost by the exact same fourteen-point margin as a rather less than serious possible candidate, Donald Trump. He also did a lot more poorly than his older brother (in a hypothetical in which W. was allowed to run for a third term), who ran within four points of Obama. Meanwhile, 44% of respondents (including half of independents) said they wouldn’t vote for another member of the Bush family at all, a good measurement of hard-core dynastic fatigue.
These polls obviously don’t mean that much this early in the 2012 cycle, but they do suggest two things: nobody in the current presidential field is lighting up supporters, and while Jeb Bush might solve a lot of the GOP’s internal problems, his famous name remains more poison than magic.

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