In a second release of data from the NBC/WSJ poll (yesterday's post was on an improving right/wrong track and Obama's consequent improvement in ratings) we have some horse race numbers to review.
According to the poll, Gingrich leads Romney 37-28. However, notable is that head to head, Obama's lead over Romney (49-43) is way less than that over Gingrich (55-37). And if Ron Paul is in the mix as a third party, unlikely as it may look right now, it's Obama 45, Romney 32, Paul 18. Clearly, a Ron Paul third party run would be excellent news for the White House.
The pollsters, Democrat Peter Hart and Republican Bill McInturff have a message to pass along:
Mr. McInturff's message to the GOP contenders: "You are not going to get elected simply by being the option to the president."
Mr. Hart had a similar assessment. "This is a great start for Obama with a lot of work to be done for the Republicans," he said. "The Republican primary is hurting them, and the improving economy is helping Obama."
Now, McIinturff says that because the numbers suggest damage done by the increasingly acrimonious GOP primary:
° Now, has what you have seen, read, or heard so far during the Republican presidential nominating process made you feel more favorable or less favorable toward the Republican Party or has it had no impact one way or the other on your feelings toward the Republican Party?
Should Gingrich run head to head with Romney, Newt wins by a whopping 52-39, with tea party and evangelical support. According to First Read
, it's because Newt leads with "very conservative voters, the South and the Tea Party."
In fact, Gingrich leads in the South 65-28, the two are virtually tied in the West and Midwest and Romney narrowly leads in the Northeast (38-32).
Also of note is that for all adults (not just Republicans), the public discussion about Romney's version of capitalism (view now more positive 16, more negative 22, not much difference 37) hurt Romney less than discussion of his taxes (more positive 3, more negative 27, not much difference 43).
Other interesting nuggets include the generic ballot for Congress, in which Democrats now lead 47-41 over republicans, their largest lead since 10/09. And here's a fascinating question:
° If there were a place on your ballot that allowed you to vote to defeat and replace every single member of Congress, including your own representative, would you do this, or not?
That will have implications for WH vs Congressional battles to come.
One thing we have seen, however, is that an unhappy GOP electorate is a volatile GOP electorate. There's little in this poll to answer that question, but what happens beyond Florida, or even what happens to these rankings after Florida remain to be determined. Expect what we've seen before: a "fluid" situation.
Full poll (.pdf) is here, MoE plus/minus 3.1 for all respondents, plus/minus 4.7 for sub-groups.
Addendum: after last night's debate, the Romney-Gingrich number will surely change. But if, as expected, Gingrich drops, so does tea party clout. In this poll, the positive/negative tea party numbers are 28/43. When their opposition to Romney fails, what then? Santorum has no money, no organization and no time left. Still, Romney has yet to show he's embraced, no matter the FL outcome. Big NH numbers didn't prove it, and big FL numbers can secure the nomination, change Republican primary votes going forward, and still leave general election voters cold.