Well, it’s official. Progressive Democrats want President Obama to face off against former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in 2012 as the battle for the ages.
An early release of the Netroots Nation straw poll taken from Thursday through Sunday and obtained by TPM shows that attendees of the convention in Las Vegas overwhelmingly want Palin to mount a presidential bid.
Respondents were asked who would they “most like to see” as the GOP nominee to challenge Obama for reelection two years from now. Netroots attendees preferred Sarah Palin, with 48 percent of them choosing her. The next closest vote-getter was libertarian Rep. Ron Paul with 11 percent, followed by former Sen. Rick Santorum with 10 percent and former Gov. Mitt Romney with 9 percent.
The others trailed in this order: Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (8 percent), Gov. Tim Pawlenty (7 percent), Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (5 percent) and Rep. Mike Pence (1 percent).
It’s obvious why progressive activists would want Palin to run against Obama, and certainly no reflection of the sentiment of Republican primary voters with two years before they make up their minds. Democrats view Palin as a flashpoint who is easy to campaign against (and who is a great help for Democratic fundraising).
A fascinating result within the poll is what the frustrated netroots want Obama to focus on next. They overwhelmingly (74 percent) answered “improve jobs situation” when asked what should be the “highest priority” for Obama and Congress. Far runners up were “finish Afghanistan” with 8 percent, immigration reform with 7 percent, repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell with 6 percent, drawing down troops from Iraq with 3 percent and reduce deficit with 3 percent. (See Obama’s surprise message to the convention here.)
The group also — by 69 percent — said health care reform was Obama’s “top accomplishment.” That was followed by his economic recovery plan with 13 percent, improving the U.S. image abroad with 7 percent, extending unemployment benefits with 5 percent, Wall Street reform with 3 percent, moving toward the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell with 2 percent and a new Afghanistan strategy with 1 percent.
The majority of respondents think Obama is handling his job as commander-in-chief well, with 32 percent saying they “strongly approve” and 51 percent saying they “somewhat approve.” On the disapproval side, 13 percent disapprove somewhat, and 4 percent strongly disapprove.
The netroots also voted on their top priority for this fall’s ballot. It was a close call, but 31 percent chose Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid vs. Sharron Angle in Nevada. Next up with 25 percent was the Pennsylvania Senate race between Rep. Joe Sestak (D) and former Rep. Pat Toomey (R), followed by the 21 percent who picked the Kentucky face-off between Rand Paul (R) and Jack Conway (D). Two House races rounded out the list: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) versus Tarryl Clark (D) in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional district, which 15 percent called their top priority, while 7 percent picked Virginia’s 5th Congressional district, where Rep. Tom Perriello (D) faces a challenge from state Sen. Robert Hurt (R).
Of the respondents, 40 percent said they had the same level of enthusiasm about the elections now as they did in 2006 when the Democrats captured control of Congress. Twenty-seven percent said they were more enthusiastic and 33 percent said they were less enthusiastic.
Read the full poll, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, here.
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