Seven months ahead of the November general election, Barack Obama holds double-digit leads in hypothetical head-to-head match-ups with both Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. Since both Romney and Santorum are widely thought to be the only credible contenders remaining for the GOP's presidential nomination, these numbers spell trouble for the Republicans.
The same CNN/ORC International survey that proposed the hypothetical match-ups has President Obama inching over the 50% mark in his approval rating for the first time since May. Pundits credit the May bump to the Obama administration's assassination of Al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, so the current approval rating may speak to a more lasting trend for the president.
Registered voters reported that they would back Obama over Romney 54% to 43%, a margin that would amount to a general election landslide. Santorum's numbers are slightly worse. He loses to Obama 42% to 55%. Both figures are up for the president since the last count.
The survey also found that the number of Americans who think the economy is doing alright has improved 13 points since January, an important measure for a White House concerned about running a general election campaign defending a weak economy.
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It's now clear that the bruising GOP primary has been catastrophic for the Republicans. Mitt Romney, who began the election season enjoying a moderate reputation and high favorability among Independents, has had to tack far to the right on policy positions. Those moves, coupled with the perception that he has run a filthy campaign, have decimated his favorability with everyone but the most ardent conservatives. Only 35% of independents still hold a favorable view of Mitt Romney. That number is the lowest for any major-party presidential candidate since companies began polling these figures.
For a GOP electorate already nervous about the electability of their candidates, these numbers have to be sobering. Despite the recent focus on the president's constitutionally questionable Affordable Care Act, it appears he may be cruising to an easy victory in November. It's telling that, in recent weeks, many big money GOP donors have switched their focus from the presidential race to the battles for the House and Senate. Prominent conservatives like George Will have practically conceded the election to Obama in the media.
If the GOP doesn't see any positive movement on these numbers through the summer months, look for the RNC to focus its fundraising dollars on competitive Senate elections in Nebraska, Montana, Massachusetts, Virginia, North Dakota, Colorado and Maine.