The PJ Tatler

'Obama Is No Longer the Favorite to Win Re-Election' (Update: Losing California?)

So says Democrat pollster Peter Hart, reacting to the latest ominous poll for The One Who Stood Before Fake Columns:

When Barack Obama unveils his jobs and economic plan to a joint session of Congress on Thursday, he’ll do so at the lowest point of his presidency, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

After the bruising debt-ceiling fight — as well as Standard & Poor’s subsequent downgrade of the nation’s credit rating — Obama’s job approval rating has sunk to a low of 44 percent, a 3-point drop since July. His handling of the economy stands at a low of 37 percent. And only 19 percent believe the country is headed in the right direction, the lowest mark for this president.

Perhaps most ominously for Obama, a majority of poll takers — 54 percent — think he’s facing a longer-term setback from which he’s unlikely to recover. Back in January, just 39 percent agreed with that assessment.

So, a majority thinks he won’t recover, meaning he won’t win next year.

Despite that, the same poll still has Obama beating the GOP frontrunners in one-on-one match-ups.

Obama leads Texas Gov. Rick Perry by five points, 47 percent to 42 percent. And he leads former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by one, 46 percent to 45 percent, though that margin is down five points since June.

But for the first time in the poll, more say they’d probably vote for a generic Republican candidate (44 percent) than say they’d probably vote for Obama (40 percent).

“Obama is no longer the favorite to win re-election,” Hart said, explaining that a head-to-head score will usually conform to the generic one, especially when so many believe the country is headed in the wrong direction.

That tells me that the GOP contenders haven’t made the sale yet. But that’s no surprise, since there’s no actual GOP nominee yet and we’re still months from a primary. In most presidential election cycles, the election is the incumbent’s to lose. But that won’t be the case in 2012 unless the economy turns around dramatically, and there is no sign of that happening.

Update: Wow

Although Obama has previously called for strategic government investments to stimulate the economy, only 37% of California voters said they favor such an approach. Instead, the Republican view — that slashing government spending to restrain the deficit will better lead to prosperity — was preferred by 49% of respondents, according to the survey sponsored by the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and The Times.

“The argument of ‘We need to cut the size of government, we need to reduce the deficit’ has won, even in California,” said David Kanevsky, research director for American Viewpoint, a Republican firm that co-directed the bipartisan poll. “Stimulus is almost a four-letter word here.”

With California unemployment mired at 12%, the electorate is clearly dissatisfied with the status quo. Nearly 3 in 4 voters say the country is on the wrong track, up sharply from the 55% who felt that way in November 2009.

That’s nearly 3 in 4 Californians who think the country is on the wrong track.