New Poll Position

Seems like it was just yesterday–and in fact, it was–that liberals were puzzling over two consecutive major national polls showing a sharp deterioration of the president’s political standing, even as conservatives snake-danced around the blogosphere, celebrating this final, decisive evidence that The One was going right down the tubes.

Not much reaction yet from these precincts to the release of the monthly Pew survey, taken at virtually the same time as the CBS/NYT and ABC/WaPo polls that created so much excitement. It shows Obama’s job approval rating edging up to 50%; shows him increasing his already solid leads in general election trial heats against Mitt Romney (54/42) and Rick Santorum (57/39); and indicates people think economic news is getting better, even as they acknowledge unhappiness over rising gas prices.

In terms of the impressions being created by the GOP presidential candidates, Republicans really should be worried about the primaries dragging on:

The survey finds that the contentious Republican primary has taken a toll on the image of the leading GOP candidates. In the current survey, just 29% of Americans say they have a favorable view of Romney, while 51% say they have an unfavorable impression. In November, opinions about Romney were more closely divided (36% favorable vs. 42% unfavorable). Santorum’s image has grown much more negative in the past month alone: 27% say they have a favorable view of Santorum, while 44% view him unfavorably. In February, about as many said they had a favorable opinion as an unfavorable one (33% vs. 36%).

Obama’s personal image remains much more favorable than either Romney’s or Santorum’s. Currently, 56% of Americans say they have a favorable impression of Obama while 41% have an unfavorable view.

The growth of this favorability gap also extends to the two parties:

Just 36% have a favorable opinion of the GOP, compared with 56% who have an unfavorable opinion. That is largely unchanged from January (35% favorable vs. 58% unfavorable).

Currently, 49% say they have a favorable impression of the Democratic Party, while 43% view the party unfavorably. In January, 43% viewed the Democratic Party favorably and 51% had an unfavorable impression.

I don’t think you’ll hear much discussion of this survey among conservatives, at least not in public.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.