Barack Obama might be able to get reelected even with a 43% approval rating if voters see enough of the Republican candidate field. That's what we find on our newest Iowa poll, where Obama is extremely unpopular but leading all of his potential foes anyway because the alternatives are seen so dimly.
Obama's at 43/52 in Iowa, representing a six point net decline from our August poll of the state when he was at 45/48. The factors driving his poor numbers are familiar ones: he's at just 37/54 with independents and 12% of Democrats disapprove of him while he's able to win over only 5% of Republicans.
In spite of that Obama leads Mitt Romney 46-42, Herman Cain 47-41, Ron Paul 47-40, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann 49-39, and Newt Gingrich 50-39 in the state. The key for Obama is that as unpopular as he is the Republicans are generally worse off. Cain's favorability is 35/40, Romney's is 34/52, Paul's is 27/55, Gingrich's is 29/59, Bachmann's is 27/58, and Perry does the worst at 21/60. If the economy doesn't improve Obama's only real shot at reelection is going to be a Harry Reid style lesser of two evils strategy- in this particular Bush 2004/Obama 2008 state it looks like voters might find the Republican hopefuls unpalatable enough for that to work.
You can really see the inability of the Republicans to take advantage of Obama's unpopularity with both independents and Democrats. Despite the -17 favorability spread with independents, Obama leads 4 of the 6 Republicans with that group of voters anyway and his deficits are only 2 points against Cain and 7 against Romney. And even though 12% of Democrats disapprove of the job Obama's doing, only 4-8% of them are actually willing to vote for the GOP hopefuls. Obama's unpopularity gives the GOP a great a chance to take back Iowa- whether they can actually take advantage of that opportunity is a different issue.
Full results here