I know that polls about 2012 at this point in time are worth less than zero, but fun of thinking forward is simply irresistible. With that caveat out of the way, Gallup has two polls out with some interesting numbers on 2012 match ups.
First poll is about the Democratic nomination. Here we find that a redo of the Obama v. Hillary match up, doesn’t play well for Hillary the second time around.
Gallup: PRINCETON, NJ -- If Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were to challenge President Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2012, she would currently have the support of 37% of Democrats nationally, while 52% would support Obama.
Obama's strengths among Democrats in the hypothetical matchup with Clinton lie with college graduates and liberals, the latter of whom make up about 36% of this sample of 859 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents. Clinton does better among less well-educated Democrats and bests Obama among conservatives, who make up 22% of Democrats. Clinton does slightly better among women than among men.
[…]These data show that conservative Democrats are the least likely to support Obama when Clinton is his hypothetical opponent, suggesting that Obama may be most vulnerable to a possible challenge from that wing of his party.
I certainly hope Gallup revisits this question well after the midterm elections. Once the Democratic circular firing squad kicks into full gear, I don’t think Hillary’s numbers will be so low. Hillary herself must feel a certain amount of confidence in knowing she can best Obama among women who are a major component of the Democrat Party.
Gallup’s other poll takes a peek at the Republican nomination for 2012 and finds Romney and Palin grabbing the top two spots.
Gallup: PRINCETON, NJ -- Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin lead other potential candidates in Republicans' preferences for the party's 2012 presidential nomination. Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul also receive more than 5% support from Republicans nationwide.
Romney and Palin are the top choices of both conservative and moderate or liberal Republicans, and in fact their support is similar among both groups. Of the top five candidates, Huckabee receives support that is most divided along ideological lines; he gets significantly more support among conservative Republicans.
Typically, support for presidential nomination candidates varies geographically, with candidates generally faring best in their home regions. This appears to be the case with most of the current group of GOP contenders, as Palin's support is highest in the West, and Huckabee gets somewhat higher support in the South. Romney shows particular strength in both the East, where he was governor of Massachusetts, and the West, where he served as chief executive of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic games.
For the Republicans I believe Obama will the biggest determining factor. Depending on how Obama chooses to act with a (hopefully) Republican controlled Congress, the frontrunner in this poll will change. Should Obama remain the way he is, any conservative candidate will stand in stark contrast. Should Obama choose to do a Bill Clinton, then a more conservative candidate will be needed to draw sharp contrast. Either way, I cannot imagine Republicans following typical fashion of nominating the next guy in line for 2012. This is because the Tea Party has gained strength and influence within the Republican Party.
My best guess at this point is that Romney will fade from the top stop once fellow Republicans begin bashing him about RomneyCare. For Palin her greatest threat is a fresh new Tea Party upstart, someone who shares her conservatism but who the left has not had time to malign.
I’ll close this post by cautioning once again, that speculation about 2012 at this point isn’t worth a damn.