by Jeffrey M. Jones, Gallup Organization
PRINCETON, NJ — Forty-four percent of registered voters say they are more likely to vote for “the Republican Party’s candidate” and 39% for Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election, according to Gallup’s June update. The current five-percentage-point edge for the generic Republican is not a statistically significant lead, and neither side has held a meaningful lead at any point thus far in 2011
These results are based on a June 9-12 Gallup poll. The competitiveness of the race is underscored by the fact that Obama’s re-election prospects on this measureÂ did not appear much better in May, when his approval rating rose to the 50% level. Now that the rally in support for ObamaÂ is essentially over, the president appears to be in a slightly weaker position but still very competitive with his as-yet-unnamed opponent.
Voters’ uncertainty about what they might do in the 2012 election is also apparent in the 18% who do not have a preference for Obama or the Republican at this point.
The poll finds Republican and Democratic registered voters supporting their party’s candidate at similar levels, with independents breaking more for the Republican than for Obama. A substantial 26% of independent voters do not have a preference.
In Gallup’s April and May updates on 2012 presidential election preferences, independent voters were evenly divided between Obama and the Republican candidate.
June Results Bear Little Relation to Election Outcome
Gallup asked similar generic ballot questions leading up to the 1992 and 2004 elections, when an incumbent president (George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, respectively) was seeking re-election but his likely opponent was unknown, given that there was not an obvious front-runner in the Democratic primaries in those years.
In June 1991 and June 2003, both Bushes held wide leads over their generic Democratic opponents. At those times, both presidents were quite popular, with the elder Bush averaging 72% approval in June 1991 and the younger Bush 62% approval in June 2003. Obama averaged 46% approval during the most recent week of Gallup Daily tracking.
Neither June generic ballot result was highly predictive of the eventual outcome; the elder Bush was defeated for re-election and the younger Bush won a narrow victory.
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