We are awash in poll data these days, but two recent surveys, both offering grounds for optimism, are worth singling out. The first is a Reuters-Ipsos poll released earlier today that finds Mitt Romney with a 21-point lead in South Carolina. Reuters-Ipsos has Romney at 37%, with Ron Paul and Rick Santorum at 16% each. Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry bring up the rear–well, except for Jon Huntsman–with 12% and 6% respectively. If this survey is at all predictive, Republican voters are not responding positively to Gingrich’s and Perry’s attacks on Romney’s work in the private sector. That’s a good thing, in my opinion, regardless of whether Romney is your candidate.
The second finding is from Rasmussen Reports, a matchup between President Obama and Ron Paul among likely voters. I find it remarkable that Obama leads Paul only 43-37%. Paul is a candidate with strong but limited appeal, sort of like anchovies on pizza. It is extraordinary that an incumbent president can’t get more than 43% of likely voters to back him against Paul, who is widely regarded as a fringe candidate. This strikes me as evidence of strong resistance to Obama among most voters.
Pundits generally say that Obama can be re-elected if the economy improves between now and November. Perhaps so; an improving economy obviously will help him some. My own view, however, is that disapproval of Obama is more deep-seated than that. Most voters who have been disappointed, if not appalled, by the Obama administration are not going to forget the last three years merely because of modest uptick in the economy. That’s my hope, anyway.