A new Washington Post-ABC poll shows Mitt Romney leading Barack Obama 49%-46% among registered voters.
So -- what's happening?
The bad economy is what's happening. Obama's handling of the economy is at -19%, his handling of the deficit an even worse -28%, and 66% think the country is on the wrong track -- all are terrible numbers for an incumbent president.
General Election Matchups:
a. Mitt Romney 49% Barack Obama 46%
b. Barack Obama 50% Newt Gingrich 44%
c. Barack Obama 50% Tim Pawlenty 41%
d. Barack Obama 50% Jon Huntsman 40%
e. Barack Obama 51% Michele Bachmann 40%
f. Barack Obama 55% Sarah Palin 40%
A couple things about this poll.
1. The GOP nomination is definitely worth having. Don't buy the hype that Obama's reelection is a fait accompli.
Those numbers on the economy are simply awful, and there's nothing to indicate they'll turn around. And even if things start moving grudgingly in the right direction, there's always a lag period between reality and perception, and the electorate might not have caught up by the time the election rolls around.
2. Republicans would be silly to make the election about ObamaCare.
I know Rick Santorum thinks health care is the election's #1 issue, and I suspect a lot of GOP candidates will also think RomneyCare and Obama Care are most salient. I also know the '12 prospects will say health care is really about the economy and try to tie the two together, because it fits the idea that Obama's tenure has been marked by expansive overreach and ObamaCare is the most marked example of that.
But that's not going to work in a general election. The economy and jobs are of far greater concern to voters. Besides, wasn't that one of the points of attack against ObamaCare -- that he was spending time on health care and not the economy? Republicans, likewise, shouldn't follow that rabbit trail.
3. 42% of Republicans say they wouldn't vote for Sarah Palin. Meanwhile, nearly 2/3 of all Americans say they "definitely would not" vote for her.
4. In a Republican primary, Romney leads Palin by a scant 4% -- even though he performs 18% better than she in a general election against Barack Obama.
5. These numbers show Romney's strength in a general election and vulnerability in a primary -- a pattern that's become increasingly obvious.