Add Georgia and Tennessee to the list of Republican leaning states that President Obama could win if Sarah Palin emerges as the GOP presidential nominee.
Two recent polls have found Obama leading Palin in hypothetical 2012 match-ups in those states, both of which went for John McCain in the 2008 election. Vanderbilt’s Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions released a poll this week showing Obama ahead of Palin 42% to 37% in Tennessee, a state Obama lost by 15 points in the last election. And in Georgia, an Insight poll found Obama with a four point lead over Palin, 47% to 43%.
Obama’s lead in Tennessee comes despite the fact that most voters don’t think he’s been a good president. In the same Vanderbilt poll, only 44% of respondents said they approved of Obama’s job performance, while 54% said they disapproved.
If Palin doesn’t capture the Republican nomination next year, Obama would stand less of a chance to carry either state. The Insight poll of Georgia tested Obama against three other frontunners for the GOP nod — Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, and Newt Gingrich — all of whom topped him. Huckabee and Romney led Obama by five and six points respectively, about the same margin by which McCain carried the state in 2008.
The polls are the latest findings to show that Palin would likely get blown out in a general election against Obama. In recent weeks, polls found Palin up by just one point in the Republican strongholds of Texas and and Nebraska, while trailing by seven in another red state, South Dakota. No Democratic presidential nominee has carried South Dakota or Nebraska since 1964, when President Lyndon Johnson won all but six states.
The Vanderbilt poll was conducted January 17-23 among 710 voters In Tennessee. I has a margin of error of 3.7%. The Insight poll was conducted January 24-28 among 910 registered votes, and has a margin of error of 3.2%.