In a first-time upset, Rasmussen Report's daily presidential tracking poll found Ron Paul leading President Barack Obama nationally in a hypothetical 2012 match-up.
Here were all four match-ups:
Romney 45% - Obama 43% Paul 43% - Obama 41% Obama 45% - Santorum 43% Obama 49% - Gingrich 39%
These latest numbers, reported by the nationally-acclaimed public polling company Monday, reflect the downward trend of President Obama's job approval in recent days, though Rasmussen warns that "It remains to be seen, of course, if this is merely statistical noise or a lasting change signaling that the president’s recent bounce in the polls has come to an end." Whether statistical noise, or a lasting change, President Obama still came out relatively unscathed by Monday's revelation.
Even the two Republicans to best him both only did so by 2 points, which was within the poll's 3 point margin of error-- and that's if the 2012 match-ups happened while the poll was conducted, not this November after Democrats and the Obama 2012 campaign have gone on the offensive against the eventual Republican nominee. As Obama sits on a hefty war chest and watches the Republican field burn through millions of dollars in ad buys and campaigning, the view can't look too bad.
The only big loser of Monday's poll result was Newt Gingrich, who trailed behind Obama nationally by 10 points. Gingrich was the only Republican presidential candidate not to statistically tie with the president in Rasmussen's hypothetical match-ups. For a Republican primary characterized heavily by so many party leaders' and voters' stated goal to defeat President Obama at all costs, the poll result bodes ill for the former House Speaker's prospects leading into Super Tuesday just one week from now.
The big winner of Monday's revelation was clearly Congressman Ron Paul, who led President Obama for the first time in Rasmussen's daily presidential tracking poll, and led by the same margin as the Republican primary front-runner, Mitt Romney. Rasmussen noted the Paul campaign's milestone:
"Paul now joins Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Santorum and Gingrich as front-runners who have led the president in a single Rasmussen Reports poll. However, it remains to be seen whether Paul can do what those others have not accomplished and lead the president more than once. So far, the only GOP candidate to do that is Romney."
Paul's campaign took the opportunity for a victory lap, a jab at Obama, and sharply-worded attacks on Paul's Republican opponents, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. In an email to supporters, Ron Paul wrote:
"More and more Americans realize my message of liberty, sound money, and free markets runs in clear contrast to Barack Obama's economy-wrecking, Constitution-shredding policies. This poll also shows that fake conservatives Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich would be defeated in a general election because voters are fed up with politicians who sell out their principles for party loyalty. The Republican Party can't nominate a candidate who will spend the entire fall campaign apologizing for their Big Government record if we want to defeat Barack Obama."
These latest public opinion numbers confirm my conclusions as set forth one month ago in an article here at The Independent Voter Network, entitled "Despite media claims, the numbers reveal Ron Paul is electable." In it, I pointed out that in addition to outperforming all his Republican rivals among key demographics that Obama counted on to win in 2008, Ron Paul consistently polls within a margin of error of Mitt Romney and Barack Obama in national polling by reputable organizations.
Whether you like him or not, agree with him or not, plan to vote for him or not, the fact that Ron Paul has now even defeated President Obama in a national public opinion poll by a reputable polling organization gives lie to the oft-repeated claim that the Texas Congressman is "not electable." At this point, that claim should no longer be taken seriously. All it really means anymore is: "I don't want Ron Paul to get elected," which is fine--but his critics should just say that and explain why instead of brazenly contradicting the empirics.