Obama Leads in Florida, North Carolina for 2012 Election

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 22, 2010   |   1:56PM   |   Tallahassee, FL

President Barack Obama has leads in Florida and North Carolina against some of the major candidates who appear to be most likely to run against him in his 2012 re-election bid.

Both swing states will be crucial for the likely pro-life Republican nominee to wrest back from Obama after he took them out of the GOP column when they supported pro-life President George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004.

Obama leads Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, and Sarah Palin in Florida by greater margins than his victory over John McCain in the state in 2008, with only Mitt Romney running closer to Obama than McCain did, according to a new poll from the PPP polling firm.

Obama’s approval rating in the state is just 45%, with 49% of voters disapproving of him. Democrats support his job as president on a 69-24 margin while 81 percent of Republicans oppose his performance. But Obama’s numbers with independents are among his best anywhere in the country at 59% approving and 35% disapproving of him and that puts his overall numbers at least at a respectable level.

Florida voters may not be enamored with Obama but they don’t really like the leading Republican contenders either as Palin is disapproved of at a 36-57 percent clip, Gingrich has a 36-47 percent disapproval rating, while Huckabee comes in at a better 41-43 percent spread that is similar to Obama’s. Only Mitt Romney has a positive approval rating in Florida, at 43-38 percent.

Romney comes closest to Obama in the hypothetical head to head match ups but still trails 46-44, even though he has a net positive approval rating. While 31 percent of Democrats like him, just 20 percent will vote for him over Obama.

Obama leads Palin in Florida by a 52-38 percent margin with just 63 percent of Republicans saying they would vote for her over the pro-abortion president and just 26 percent of independents saying they would. Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich each trail Obama by 5 points with Huckabee losing 49-44 percent and Gingrich trailing 47-42 percent.

In North Carolina, the PPP poll released this week shows Obama has improved his standing compared to a month ago “and continues to appear to have at least an even money chance of taking the state again in 2012,” the firm says.

Some 46% of voters in the state approve of the job Obama’s doing to 49% who disapprove, almost identical to his Florida margins. With Democrats overall his approval is up three points from 73% last month to now 76% and with independents he’s risen from 40% to now 43%.

Obama is also doing better in hypothetical contests against the leading potential GOP candidates for president than he was a month ago.

Mike Huckabee leads Obama 46-45 but that is four points less than he led Obama last month. Obama leads Romney 46-43, is 48-42 over Newt Gingrich, and comes in at 52-38 over Sarah Palin.

On Huckabee, 43% have a favorable opinion of him to 34% with a negative one. Romney’s favorability spread is 34/39, Gingrich’s is 35/47, and Palin’s is 36/57.

PPP speculates Obama’s standing has improved in both states and with independents and conservative Democrats because of the tax cut deal he supported with Republicans.

“One thing that may be contributing to Obama’s improved standing in the state is the tax deal he cut with Republicans in Congress earlier this month. It’s broadly popular with North Carolina voters- 51% support it to only 35% who are opposed,” the firm noted. “What may be more important for Obama though is who supports it. His party’s liberal base is not real happy with it, but not so displeased that they’re turning away from Obama.”

“It’s certainly no guarantee that Obama will take North Carolina again in 2012 but he has a pretty good chance at it, and those prospects are looking a little brighter than they did a month ago,” the firm concluded.