Before we get into this post about polling in the presidential race, please understand that I'm not saying that anything we're seeing today predicts what will happen next November. With that out of the way, let me point out something interesting.
Yesterday, two new polls came out on President Obama and the 2012 race. The headlines said it all: "Obama Ratings Sink to New Low As Hope Fades," says The Washington Post. "Obama Hits All-Time Lows," reports the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. His approval is at 43 percent in the former, and 44 percent in the latter. Very bad, but about what you'd expect when the economy is in in the toilet. But could they be burying the lede? Here's an excerpt from deep down in the NBC story:
If there's a silver lining for Obama, it's that a combined 70 percent of respondents still find him likeable (though nearly six in 10 say they disapprove of many of his policies). And 50 percent approve of his handling of foreign policy, which Hart says is significant because it suggests that the public doesn't think that everything Obama touches can be viewed negatively.
What's more, in a hypothetical general election contest, Obama leads Texas Gov. Rick Perry by five points, 47 percent to 42 percent. And he leads former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by one, 46 percent to 45 percent, though that margin is down five points since June.
If I were on the Obama campaign, I'd be pretty pleased. Americans don't know much about Rick Perry yet, but what they've learned so far hasn't convinced them that they'd vote for him over the guy who everyone is convinced has utterly failed to improve the economy. Romney, the more familiar and less crazy candidate, who is supposedly brimming over with business experience, can't muster anything better than a tie.
And the Obama '12 campaign hasn't even begun opening upon either of them the extremely large and lovingly handcrafted can of whoop-ass that right now a few hundred people in an office building in Chicago are working day and night to assemble. If you're a Democrat, things could look a lot worse.