'These polling numbers spell a very, very bleak outlook for re-election'
Nearly half of independent registered voters rate Barack Obama's performance in the White House as "poor," and they are abandoning him in droves in the run-up to the 2012 election, according to a new poll.
The results are from the public-opinion research and media consulting company Wenzel Strategies. The poll was conducted Dec. 5-7 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.26 percentage points.
It shows 80 percent of Republicans, 51 percent of independents and 13.4 percent of Democrats "definitely" will vote for someone other than Obama. Another 21 percent of independents, 12.2 percent of Republicans and 8.8 percent of Democrats are "considering someone new."
The bottom line leaves only 38.5 percent of the respondents who will "definitely" vote for Obama again.
The results show that of all registered voters, 44.4 percent rate Obama's job performance as "poor" and another 13.2 percent give him an "only fair" mark. But for independents, those figures are 49.8 percent for a "poor" grade and 15.1 percent for "only fair."
That makes a huge difference in the poll where Democrats, as expected, rated Obama "excellent" (37.8 percent) and "good" (34.8 percent) while Republicans largely put him in the "poor" category (74.9 percent).
The results are clear: 47.8 percent of all voters will "definitely vote for someone else and 13.7 percent are considering that.
Fritz Wenzel, president of Wenzel Strategies, noted that the poll doesn't even identify an opponent.
"Another way to look at this is that almost half the electorate plan to vote against Obama, regardless of who is running against him. Presidential re-election campaigns are almost always a referendum on their performance, so this is nothing new, but these numbers are really bad," he said.
"Another wrinkle in the equation is Obama's bad job approval numbers, as just 40 percent give him positive marks for his job as president. We have already seen the outline of his re-election campaign themes, and they are decidedly negative.
"Like Truman, he apparently will try to run against Congress. But running a campaign with such a negative theme normally requires that the candidate have at least a fairly positive rating himself – something Obama currently lacks. Taken together, these polling numbers spell a very, very bleak outlook for re-election," Wenzel said.
Obama's highest remaining support levels come from women, although women who definitely support him barely outnumber those definitely supporting someone else, 44.6 percent to 43.7 percent. Then there are the 11.7 percent who are considering someone new.
Women also gave Obama better marks for his tenure in the Oval Office, with 46 percent ranking him good or excellent. For men, those categories totaled just 33 percent.
That he's divided the country racially also was apparent. Seventy-five percent of blacks rate Obama good or excellent, while only 32 percent of whites do.
The poll also captured the public's view of Congress, whose members ranked even lower than Obama. More than 64 percent of voters – including 56 percent of Democrats, 67 percent of Republicans and an overwhelming 71 percent of independents – said Congress is doing "poor."
"Only fair" captured another 16.4 percent of the voters, and excluding those who remained unsure, not even 1 in 10 ranked Congress' work "good" or "excellent."
"It is true that Obama's approval numbers are much better than Congress, but in running against Congress, he risks giving his Republican opponent an opening to rise above that political food fight and inspire voters to make a change," Wenzel said.
"In other words, if the Republican presidential candidate can successfully triangulate between Obama and Congress, that candidate could benefit as the only positive alternative in a sea of negativity. Remember that the American electorate has not changed. They still hunger for a version of the hope and change that Obama offered four years ago, but this time they will demand substance behind the promises," he said.