That high level of dissatisfaction may explain why some Republicans are holding out hope that a white knight will leap into the race and shake things up. Rudy Giuliani and Texas Gov. Rick Perry have both hinted at possible bids, while former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have flatly ruled out 2012 campaigns despite polling at the top of a number of GOP primary surveys.
A PPP poll also released Thursday drives home that point. In the poll, Romney comfortably topped all comers among a slate of declared or presumed candidates, including Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain and Jon Huntsman. But on a ballot that featured non-candidates, Christie came out on top at 18%, followed by Romney at 17%. And while Palin took third in that scenario with 13%, Giuliani and Bush were close behind at 11% each.
Romney has been by far the favorite in polls of the current GOP field, excluding those who may yet enter the field -- NBC notched his support at 30%, while PPP pegged him at 22%.
Obama has appeared of late weaker now that the struggling economy has pushed bin Laden's death to the sidelines. Polls have shown his approval rating slumping as voters have grown more pessimistic about the nation's economic outlook. He's far from invulnerable heading into 2012, but he'd be in a more precarious position if Republicans were more enthused about their candidates.
The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll was conducted June 9-13 among 1,000 adults nationwide, and has a 3.1% margin of error. The PPP poll was conducted June 9-12 among 544 registered voters. It has a margin of error of 4.2%.