Poll: Christie runs stronger against Obama than most of rumored GOP field

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie performs better in a head-to-head match-up against President Obama in 2012 than most of the rumored field of Republican presidential hopefuls, according to a new poll.

New numbers from Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind poll show Obama leading Christie by just six percentage points in a hypothetical 2012 match-up — 46 percent to 40.

That's better than former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who trails Obama 54 percent to 34; former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who trails 48 percent to 34; and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.), who trails the president 52 percent to 37.

The only two rumored GOP hopefuls who outperform Christie: former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Obama is in a dead heat with both potential contenders. He's tied with Huckabee at 46 percent and leads Romney by just a point — 44 percent to 43.

The poll surveyed 800 registered voters nationwide and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Despite solid poll numbers, Christie has repeatedly denied any interest in running for the presidency next year, musing on more than one occasion that short of suicide, he isn't sure what he could do to convince people he won't run in 2012.

Still, given a GOP field without a clear front-runner and Christie's rock star-like status among national conservatives, many Republicans are still hopeful he could opt for a 2012 bid.

The New Jersey governor made his second trip to Washington in as many months on Wednesday as the headliner for the National Republican Congressional Committee's annual fundraising dinner, which pulled in more than $10 million. The haul was a $3 million improvement over what the NRCC brought in at last year's dinner.


Poll: Sen. Bill Nelson leads potential opponents by double digits

Sen. Bill Nelson's (D-Fla.) approval numbers remain in the danger zone for an incumbent headed into a reelection year, but he still holds solid early leads over his potential Republican challengers.

Nelson's approval stands at just 38 percent, but he leads each of six potential opponents by at least 13 percentage points, according to new numbers from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling.

Nelson leads state Senate President Mike Haridopolos, who has already signaled his intention to run, 50 percent to 34 percent. The incumbent leads former Sen. George LeMieux 48 percent to 33 percent and former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner 48 percent to 32 percent.

The two Republicans who fared the best against Nelson in the poll are two who have already said they won't run for the seat. Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.) decided against jumping into the race last week, but he trailed Nelson by just 13 points — 47 percent to 34 percent.

Former congressman and talk-show host Joe Scarborough also comes within 13 points of Nelson — trailing 45 percent to 32 percent. National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) urged Scarborough to consider a Nelson challenge. It's something the NRSC has disputed, claiming Cornyn and Scarborough never spoke about a potential Senate run in Florida.

Scarborough has said he won't be a Senate candidate next year.

The survey polled 500 Florida voters and has a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.

-Updated at 5:48 p.m.


Poll: Absent Huckabee and Palin, Mitt Romney leads the GOP pack

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leads the field of putative GOP presidential contenders — assuming former Govs. Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin don't enter the 2012 race.

With both Huckabee and Palin in, it's the former Arkansas governor who holds a slight edge, garnering 19 percent of the vote to Romney's 15 and Palin's 12, according to new numbers from Gallup.

Without either Huckabee or Palin in the contest, the edge shifts to Romney, who leads with 22 percent, followed by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) at 16 percent.

The overall numbers indicate the race for the GOP nomination remains wide open, with no real change in the preferences of Republicans nationally for months. Additionally, some observers increasingly doubt Huckabee or Palin will officially get in the race.

Aside from Huckabee, Palin and Romney, another 10 candidates register in the Gallup poll. The top three are followed by Gingrich at 10 percent, Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) at 6 percent, Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) at 5 percent and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels at 4 percent. 


Poll: House majority is up for grabs in 2012

A new survey from Democracy Corps, a group headed by Democratic strategists Stan Greenberg and James Carville, suggests the House is very much in play for Democrats in 2012. 

Democracy Corps polled in 50 Republican-held congressional districts, the vast majority of which voted for President Obama in the 2008 election. GOP freshmen hold 35 of the districts, and the poll found that most remain largely unknown and show clear signs of vulnerability ahead of 2012. 

Democrats must net 25 seats next year to regain control of the House. 

The poll found the Republican incumbents had an average approval rating of just 35 percent across the 50 districts surveyed. Another 38 percent didn't have an opinion on their lawmaker, and the average number of respondents who said they would vote to reelect the GOP incumbent was just 40 percent. 

The conclusion, according to Democracy Corps: "These incumbents are in a weaker position than Democratic incumbents were, even in late 2009, or Republican incumbents were in 2007." 


Poll: Sen. Sherrod Brown leads potential GOP opponents by double digits

A new poll shows Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) in better shape heading into 2012 than the first term senator looked at the end of last year. 

Brown, who's expected to be a top Republican target next year, currently leads all of his rumored GOP opponents by at least 15 points, according to numbers from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP). 

Brown leads Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and comedian Drew Carey by 15 points — 49 percent to 34 percent. Carey was floated as a candidate by a libertarian group earlier this year, but has denied any interest in a Senate run.  

Other rumored contenders trail Brown by larger margins. Brown leads State Treasurer Josh Mandel 48 percent to 32 percent, Rep. Steve LaTourette 48 percent to 30 percent and he leads both Rep. Jim Jordan and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor by 19 points.      

It marks an improvement for Brown from PPP's numbers taken late last year. In December, Brown wasn't above 43 percent in the ballot test against any of four potential Republican opponents. 


Poll: Majority of Maine Republicans want conservative alternative to Snowe

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) may have the support of Maine's Tea Party-backed governor in her reelection bid, but she could still be in for a tough primary battle next year.

New numbers from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP) show 58 percent of Maine Republicans prefer a generic "more conservative" alternative to Snowe in 2012. And just 33 percent of Maine Republicans said they will support her.

According to the poll, 58 percent of Republicans in the state think Snowe is too liberal, while another 33 percent don't even think she belongs in the GOP, saying she should be a Democrat. 

Still, neither of the two Republicans who have already announced runs for the seat have made much headway. Businessman Scott D'Amboise and Tea Party activist Andrew Ian Dodge are largely unknown and haven't yet been able to command the sort of national attention that's already focused on a primary challenge to longtime Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.).  


Poll: Wisconsin Republicans like Rep. Ryan for president

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), the chairman of the House Budget Committee, would be the top pick of Republicans in Wisconsin for president in 2012 if he opted for a campaign.

New numbers from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP) show Ryan would lead the Republican field in the state with 30 percent of Wisconsin Republicans in support of a Ryan presidential bid.  

He's followed by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee with 17 percent, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 12 percent, and former Govs. Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin at 9 percent. 

Despite the numbers, Ryan has shown next to no interest in a 2012 presidential bid and isn't expected to throw his hat into the ring next year. 

He's been mentioned as a potential challenger to Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.) next year, as well, and while a Senate race is more likely, few observers expect Ryan to sacrifice his budget chairmanship for a campaign. 

Still, pollster Tom Jensen says Ryan's solid numbers in his home state are worth noting given that he performs better than most of the leading rumored GOP presidential hopefuls do in their home states. 

Aside from Romney, who PPP found with solid support among Republican voters in Massachusetts, Palin, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.) can't boast great numbers among Republicans in their home states. 

Without Ryan in the mix, Wisconsin Republicans give the edge to Huckabee, who leads with 23 percent of the vote. He's followed by Gingrich and Palin, who each garner 15 percent. Romney takes 12 percent, while Pawlenty follows with 10 percent of the vote. 


Poll: Tea Party threat to Allen minimal

Former Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) is likely to face a crowded Republican primary in his bid to return to the Senate in 2012, but he starts in good position to fight off any Tea Party-backed challengers. 

New numbers from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP) show Allen is the favorite for the nomination among Virginia Republicans. Allen and two other Republicans have already jumped into the race for retiring Sen. Jim Webb's (D-Va.) seat.  

Along with Allen, Tea Party activist Jamie Radtke and businessman David McCormick will run, with Del. Bob Marshall and Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart also weighing bids.

A full 67 percent of Virginia Republicans say Allen is their top pick, according to the poll. Just 7 percent prefer Marshall, another 4 percent favor Radtke, while McCormick and Stewart each earn 3 percent.