A new Gallup poll shows President Obama trailing a generic Republican challenger in a head-to-head contest, with 44 percent of respondents choosing the Republican and 39 percent opting to reelect the president.
But many voters haven’t made up their minds yet. A full 18 percent of respondents to the poll chose the other/no opinion option, including 26 percent of independents. Even in early May, just after the president saw his approval rating jump in the wake of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s death, he held only a 3-point lead over a generic Republican, with 43 percent choosing to reelect. And since that poll, he has seen the so-called “bin Laden bump” all but disappear.
Fortunately for the president, polling so far ahead of the election is hardly indicative of the outcome. Both Bushes, as incumbents, held wide leads over generic Democratic opponents, but George H.W. Bush ended up losing in 1992. Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton trailed named opponents in 1983 and 1995, respectively, but both went on to win reelection easily.
The poll was based on landline and cellular telephone interviews conducted from June 9 to 12 with a random sample of 914 registered voters, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. There is 95 percent confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.