Monday, April 11, 2011

Obama, Paul kick off 2012 campaign season

Obama in 2008 (Marc Nozell/ Wikimedia Commons)
It is still eighteen months from the elections, but the 2012 campaign kicked off last week with President Obama’s announcement that he was filing papers to formalize his candidacy.  The announcement came on the president’s 2012 election blog on April 4 and was accompanied by a Youtube video titled “It Begins With Us.”

The announcement comes as the president’s popularity remains somewhat low.  A Real Clear Politics average of Obama’s approval rating from five polling organizations shows only 47% approval.  The highest was 49% in both Fox News and NBC News/Wall St. Journal polls, while the lowest was 45% from both Gallup and Rasmussen Reports.  The Rasmussen Daily Presidential Tracking Poll shows an 18 point gap between those who strongly approve (21%) and strongly disapprove (39%) of President Obama’s job performance.  Those numbers should be troubling for Democrats.

On the other hand, polling data doesn’t necessarily look good for Republicans either.  The Real Clear Politics roundup of polls shows President Obama winning over an unnamed Republican by three points (43.6% to 40.8%).  The two Republicans who fared best were Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney, both with an average of 42.6%.  Both are still losing to President Obama at this point, however.  The president scored 47.3% against Romney and did slightly better against Huckabee with 47.6%.

Other Republicans are shown as losing to Obama by double digit margins with one exception.  Rep. Ron Paul lost by an average of 8 percent.  This is considerably better than such prominent Republicans as Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich.  It also shows that newcomers like Tim Pawlenty and Mitch Daniels have much work to do introducing themselves to the public.

Ron Paul in 2008 (Bbsrock/Wikimedia Commons)
To date, no Republican except Herman Cain has formally entered the race, though more announcements may be coming soon.  A spokesman for libertarian Republican Ron Paul told the Daily Caller on April 8 that Rep. Paul has filled out paperwork to form an exploratory committee, the first step in becoming a candidate, and that he will participate in the first Republican primary debate in South Carolina on May 5.  The official list of participants for the debate has not been released, but the South Carolina Republican Party did confirm that Paul is expected to attend.  This would seem to indicate that Rep. Paul is seriously considering yet another run for the presidency.

Both Obama and Paul participated in the 2008 presidential primaries.  Obama, of course, went on to win his party’s nomination as well as the general election.  Ron Paul did not win a single primary.  In Georgia, Obama won among Democrats with 67% of the vote, while Paul finished fourth in the Republican primary with 3% of the vote.

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