New data from Gallup asked Americans to rate themselves on a scale of one to five, one being very liberal and five being very conservative. The mean among citizens turned out to be 3.3, which is just the number that Americans rated former Ambassador and Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman to be on the scale.
In fact, all the current Republican nominees for President where within .7 of the mean score. The politician that Americans scored as being the farthest away from their ideology was President Barack Obama at 2.3, a full point away.
If Americans chose their president solely on the basis of the fit between their own ideological views and their perceptions of the candidates' views, Huntsman, Romney, and Paul would be in the best position for the 2012 election. While a close ideological fit is clearly a political asset, many other factors go into selecting a president, including evaluations of national conditions, such as the economy, the performance of the president and his party, and the platform each candidate is running on.
Indeed, Obama's mean ideology rating four years ago was 2.5, essentially the same as now, and he was perceived to be slightly more liberal (with a score of 2.2) immediately before the election. Americans' own ideology ratings in December 2007 (3.2) and October 2008 (3.3) were essentially the same as now, and closer to John McCain's (3.4 in December 2007 and 3.7 in October 2008) than Obama's.