A new Gallup poll released today shows President Obama running even with a generic GOP contender in a hypothetical 2012 general election match-up. Mr. Obama was supported by 45% of the respondents, as was the “generic” GOP candidate. The remainder were not sure.
Business Insider Politics looks at early polling results as follows:
1. If the incumbent candidate, for whatever office, is attracting majority support among the poll respondents, then he or she has to be considered a favourite to win re-election. It is by no means certain that the incumbent will win re-election, but generally speaking an incumbent who is pulling 50% support or better is, by definition, hard to beat.
2. Polls, like the Gallup Poll above, which show the incumbent somewhere around 45%, indicate that the opposition has a realistic chance of unseating the incumbent. Again, it is by no means certain that they will. The incumbent, especially in presidential races, has enormous advantages.
3. Polls which show the incumbent at less than 40% indicate that a likely turnover is in the making. It is not certain that the challenger will win, obviously, but the road to re-election for an incumbent with, say, a 38% “match-up” number is straight uphill.
When reading “horse race” polls, the key thing to remember is 50%-plus-one. In most races, that is what is required to win. President Obama, in this Gallup survey, is 5% (plus one vote) shy of his goal. Not too shabby, given the unemployment numbers and the price of gas, but not great either.
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