As Obama’s approval rating has slipped in the past few months, so too have his leads over potential 2012 challengers.
In a McClatchy-Marist poll released on Wednesday, Obama posted a one-point lead over Mitt Romney, down from a robust 13-point edge just three months ago. Obama still notched comfortable leads on Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee, though both Republicans have gained some ground since January as well.
That indicates that while Obama enjoyed a brief honeymoon to start 2011, the bump has quickly evaporated, and his reelection prospects remain far from certain.
In the poll, Obama led Romney 46%-45%, a twelve-point change since January when Obama led 51%-38%. Romney has consistently given Obama his toughest challenge in head-to-head matchups. The latest TPM Poll Average gives Obama a 47.3%-44.3% edge over Romney.
Obama also topped Huckabee 48%-43% in the most recent poll, though he led the former Arkansas governor by a wider 50%-38% split last time around. And while Obama bested Palin 56%-34%, that 22-point gulf is smaller than the 26-point margin he held in January when he led Palin 56%-30%.
The poll also paired Obama against Donald Trump for the first time. Obama comfortably led that contest, topping Trump 54%-38%.
Obama’s dwindling leads in hypothetical 2012 pairings coincides with a slide in his approval rating since January. Obama got a New Year’s bump after signing a number of popular initiatives at the end of last year — such as the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — and rode into 2011 with a burnished reputation.
His high marks have since receded. In January, a Marist poll showed that 54% of Americans approved of Obama’s job performance, compared to 43% who disapproved. By this month, Marist found Obama’s approval rating underwater, with 50% of adults disapproving of his job performance versus 47% approving of it.
The TPM Poll Average also shows a recent downward trend in Obama’s approval rating.
The Marist poll was conducted April 10-14, and surveyed samples of 532 and 552 registered voters nationwide. It has a margin of error of 4.5%.