PPP's monthly look at the Presidential race nationally has two major findings: a wide electability gap between Mitt Romney and anybody else in the Republican field, and Barack Obama doing worse than he was a month ago against all of the GOP contenders.
If Romney was the Republican nominee we'd be looking at a toss up race. He and Obama tie at 45% each. A month ago Obama led Romney 49-45. There are two big reasons Romney does better than any of the other Republicans. One is that he's the only one who leads Obama with independents, even if it's only by a 44-42 margin. The other GOP hopefuls all trail by at least 6 with that group of voters. The other is that Romney has an ability to unify Republicans against Obama that none of his fellow candidates have yet at this point- 85% of GOP voters say they would support him in the general. Cain gets 83% of the Republican vote but none of the rest of them get out of the 70s. A lot of GOP voters may have reservations about Romney that will keep them from supporting him in the primary but when it comes to November they'll be on board with him.
If the Republicans nominate anyone other than Romney it looks like 2008 all over again at this point. Cain is looking like the new Republican front runner, at least in our polling, but he trails Obama 48-42 head to head. Paul faces a 47-39 deficit to the President, Perry is down 49-40, Gingrich trails 50-39, and Bachmann is in the worst position at 50/38. Democrats should pretty much be rooting for anyone other than Romney to win the nomination.
The other notable thing in these numbers is how much Rick Perry's image has tanked in the last month. Only 23% of voters now have a favorable opinion of him to 57% with a negative one. That -34 favorability spread is worse than the -30 we found for Sarah Palin at 32/62 the last time we polled on her nationally, in August. He's at an amazingly bad 16/62 with independents. Obama can only hope that Perry makes some sort of comeback in the next few months- it may be his only path to reelection.
Full results here