President Obama is not whalloping Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich in Minnesota like he was when we last polled the state last May, a few weeks after Osama Bin Laden was killed. That was the high point of Obama’s standing last year. But in our latest survey of the Gopher State, the president still looks like he is set to win the state by a similar margin as in 2008, when he defeated John McCain by 10 points here.
In fact, Obama leads Romney by that same spread now (51-41), down five points from eight months ago (51-36). But no one else does any better. Gingrich lags by 15 (54-39), versus 18 (54-36) in the previous poll. Rick Santorum and Ron Paul were not tested last time, and they trail by respective 12- (52-40) and 13-point margins (51-38).
Wednesday’s results showed the former speaker winning the caucus race by a 2:1 margin over Romney. But of the Republican candidates, Gingrich finds the most disfavor among voters in the general election, with the worst favorability rating and the biggest deficit to Obama. Only 27% of Minnesotans see him positively, and 60% negatively. The others are all also very disliked personally, but not to the same extent. Santorum is the most popular, at 30-50, followed by Paul (29-53) and Romney (29-56). The president’s approval rating stands at 49-45, down a tick from 51-44 last May.
Obama has his base locked up, no matter who he faces, but Gingrich is by far the most disliked by Democrats, who make up a narrow plurality of the electorate, so the president wins 95% of his party to Gingrich's 2% in that match-up. Paul does the best with Obama's party, but Obama is still held to "only" 92% of them in that case.
Gingrich is also the most disliked by independents, who are almost a third of voters. So he lags the president by the largest amount with nonpartisan voters (17 points), compared to Santorum's 13, Romney's nine, and Paul's six. Gingrich also cedes the second highest proportion of GOP voters to the president, at 11% to Paul’s 12%, Santorum’s 10%, and Romney’s 8%.
And this is not unusual. We're generally finding lately that Gingrich would be the worst of the four remaining contenders against Obama. Last week, we found he was the only candidate actually trailing Obama in Texas (by two points), while the others were up by a still weak six to seven points.
But even with Romney as the nominee, it's beyond me why anyone lists Minnesota in even the lean D column. It hasn't gone red for president since Nixon's 1972 landslide over McGovern, and even if Romney closes a few points by the fall, Obama's still not remotely in trouble in this state.
Full results here