Disclaimer: Yes, 2012 is still a long ways away. Undoubtedly, things will change and events will occur that will swing poll numbers back and forth. That said, this PPP poll provides an interesting glimpse at where things stand today. Let's take a look...
If there is one lesson out of the new Ohio PPP poll, it's this...
If you want to beat Obama in 2012, you probably don't want to vote for Romney, Huckabee, Palin, or Gingrich in the primary.
Obama is still very unpopular in Ohio.
His overall approval is underwater at 42-49 and even worse among Independents at 40-54. Among his own Democratic base he's just at 71% approval.
By comparison, right before this past election, the last PPP poll showed Ted Strickland was at 41-50 approval overall with and 75% among Democrats. The difference? While Obama is -14 among Independents, Strickland was -28.
In other words, their overall approval numbers are awfully similar overall, but Obama is doing worse among Democrats and better among Independents. Obviously, considering where Strickland ended up, that's still very bad news for Obama.
Among the four Republicans polled by PPP, their unfavorable numbers among GOPers came in at 23% for Gingrich, 19% for Huckabee, 21% for Palin, and 22% for Romney. By comparison, right before the 11/2 election and despite all the attacks, Kasich's unfavorable number among GOPers came in at just 11%.
Why is that significant? Because the only person with higher name ID among the 2012 field chosen by PPP was Palin...by 1%.
In other words, without the 2012 campaign even beginning, the big names are already far too unpopular among the base.
And it's seen in the matchups.
Obama beats Gingrich 47-41. Obama beats Huckabee 45-44. Obama beats Palin 49-42. Obama beats Romney 44-42.
What It Means
Folks, this is just a little over a month after a gigantic GOP tidal wave swept over Ohio and the nation.
And we have all four "leading contenders" getting beat.
Why? Because they are unpopular.
Make no mistake, Obama is very vulnerable in Ohio. In fact, he's just as vulnerable as Strickland was and is facing an even more discouraged Democratic base. And as we all saw in this past election - a discouraged base damages turnout.
But our leading candidates are already at a severe disadvantage. They're already known and people don't like what they see. When impressions are already negatively entrenched, it's hard to change them - especially in the face of someone who will be as well funded as the President.
So what does that mean?
Republicans need someone else.
Mitch Daniels? Haley Barbour? John Thune? Tim Pawlenty? Mike Pence?
Who knows? But someone else has to step up and forge their identity by utilizing a record of accomplishment and leadership to show they are the superior candidate.
Ultimately, 2012 will be similar to what we saw in Ohio in 2010 - a referendum election. We're in a very good position if Obama's numbers stay anywhere close to where they are now, but only if our nominee is someone who isn't already tarnished.
We all know the phrase, "so goes Ohio, so goes the nation". And it's no less true today as it has been for decades.
Want to win? Support someone other than the big four.