PPP's first general election poll of Iowa since last October really exemplifies how the Republican nomination process enhanced Barack Obama's chances at reelection. Last fall Obama led Romney only 46-42 there but now his lead is up to 10 points at 51-41, matching his 2008 margin of victory in the state.
The reason for Obama's enhanced standing in the state is pretty simple- over the last six months he's become more popular and Romney's become less popular. Obama was under water at a 43/52 approval spread, now he's on narrowly positive ground at 49/46. The most noteworthy shift has come with independents, who he's gone from 37/54 to 52/41 with.
Romney meanwhile remains incredibly unpopular in Iowa with only 34% of voters rating him favorably to 56% with an unfavorable opinion. He used to have a decent amount of crossover appeal to Democrats with a 17/72 spread, but that's now worsened to 9/86. And with independents he's at an atrocious 28/59.
In the head to head Obama leads with independents by a striking 54/34 margin. Obama gets 90% of the Democratic vote while only 79% of Republicans are committed to Romney. In a sense that's good news for Romney because it indicates he has a lot more room to grow and make Iowa more competitive. But it also speaks to the fact that Obama's base is a lot more sold on him than Romney's is.
The chances of an Iowan running mate for Romney seem pretty small but just for the heck of it we tested Terry Branstad and Steve King as potential ticket mates. Branstad would chop a couple points off Obama's lead, bringing the margin to 50/42. With King as the running mate Obama's lead remains 10 points at 50-40. Iowans are evenly divided on Branstad's performance right now with 43% each approving and disapproving of him. King is not a popular statewide figure with only 25% of voters rating him favorably to 38% with a negative opinion.
Romney actually isn't even the strongest candidate against Obama in Iowa. That designation goes to Ron Paul who trails the President by just 8 points at 47-39. Where Romney trails Obama by 20 points with independents, Paul has only an 8 point disadvantage.
Iowa may get closer between now and November but for now it looks it will fall pretty safely in the Democratic column.
Full results here