When we noted the rather useless NJ poll that simply asked voters if they would today re-elect Obama for a second term (even though he wont be on the ballot for two more years), we stressed how pointless it was to pit Obama vs. “somebody else” on the hypothetical ballot.
In other words:
Perhaps what would be revealing is if National Journal did a poll and inserted the name “Sarah Palin” into the slot of “someone else.” Or “Newt Gingrich.” Or “Tim Pawlenty.” The point being that elections are between two candidates, not an incumbent vs. “someone else.” Unless voters know who the “someone else” is, the results are pretty pointless.
Nonetheless, the National Journal poll enjoyed some online buzz because (wow!) “50% say they would probably or definitely vote for someone else.”
Well, now Fox News has run a 2012 poll and filled in the “somebody else” slot (and filled it mostly with FNC employees!), and not surprisingly the results are quite different than simply asking people if they'd vote for Obama without giving them a specific challenger.
According to Fox News, Obama would waltz to re-election against Mitt Romney, sail to a second term against Sarah Palin, and probably wouldn't even have to campaign against Newt Gingrich.
So, from now until 2012, you can pretty much ignore media polls that ask voters to pick between Obama and the mysterious “somebody else.”