Graphic from PPP Polling
One thing that has remained constant in the ever changing GOP Presidential race is that Mitt Romney is the strongest candidate against Barack Obama…at least until now. PPP’s newest national poll finds Romney trailing Obama by 7 points at 49-42, while Santorum trails by only 5 points at 49-44.
Santorum’s net favorability is 21 points better than Romney’s. Santorum’s at -7 (39/46), while Romney is at -28 (29/57). That’s mostly because Republicans like Santorum a lot better (+40 at 62/22 to Romney’s +2 at 43/41). But Santorum also does a good deal better with independents, coming in at -6 (40/46) to Romney’s -23 (32/55). In the head to heads Obama leads Romney by 9 with independents, but has only a 4 point advantage on Santorum with that group.
Ron Paul has nearly matched Romney on the electability front, trailing Obama by 8 points at 49-41. Paul does the best of the Republican candidates with independents, with only a 1 point deficit to Obama. Newt Gingrich has firmly established himself as the Republican who would be the biggest general election disaster, trailing 52-40 with a 19 point deficit among independents.
Why is Obama doing so well? It has a lot to do with this finding: 41% of voters think the economy’s getting better to only 31% who think it’s getting worse with 27% thinking that it’s staying about the same. This is the first time since Obama took office that we’ve asked a question in this vein on a national poll and found more voters feeling optimistic than pessimistic about the way things are heading.
If the GOP nominates Mitt Romney, he will lose by as much or more than John McCain. Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are flawed candidates, who also will lose. There is no path to victory for any of these pols, especially with an improving economy.
If the GOP wants to win, they need to nominate someone outside the current field – an accomplished Governor like Bobby Jindal, Mitch Daniels or Chris Christie.
The entire poll is here.