As Mitt Romney’s fortunes slide, a new PPP poll found that Stephen Colbert posed a bigger 2012 threat to Obama than the GOP frontrunner.
According to the latest PPP poll released today, President Obama has opened up a 49%-44% national lead on Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney. However, the 2012 election turned into a dead heat when one high profile candidate was added to the race. No, not Ron Paul, but Stephen Colbert. In a three candidate race between Obama, Romney, and Colbert, the president leads 41%-38%-13%.
Colbert’s voters support Obama over Romney, 52%-38%, but if the Comedy Central host were to be on the ballot, a sizable percentage of that Obama support would go third party. Most of Colbert’s national support comes from Democrats, in contrast to Mitt Romney who has the support of 13% of Democrats. Colbert also has a higher favorable rating, and lower unfavorable rating that Mitt Romney. Colbert leads Romney, 36%-35% in terms of favorability, and he is less disliked than the likely Republican nominee. Mitt Romney has seen his unfavorable rating climb to 53% in the past month. Stephen Colbert’s unfavorable rating is just 28%.
If Republicans really wanted to win the White House, they should toss Mitt Romney aside and nominate Stephen Colbert. After all the GOP has flirted with celebrities (Sarah Palin) and reality TV stars (Donald Trump) in the search for their dream candidate, so why not try a comedian?
In all seriousness, Stephen Colbert is not going to be a third party presidential candidate. Stephen Colbert the person, not the character, respects the electoral process. This is why has been using his humor to focus on the travesty that is Citizens United. Colbert’s good polling highlights the fact that Mitt Romney is very weak challenger to President Obama. Romney’s ability to put his foot in his mouth on a daily basis, along with his pandering to the right has turned his nine point lead with Independents into a ten point deficit in a month.
Despite the fact that President Obama’s poll numbers have been improving over the past few months his reelection fate is still tied to the fragile, but growing economic recovery. Voters are being turned off by Romney and they still personally like Obama, but aren’t sure about voting for him. This climate leaves the door wide open for a third party candidate to determine who will win the 2012 presidential election.
A strong third party conservative candidate or even a weaker third party candidate like Libertarian Gary Johnson could doom Romney. A strong third party challenge from the left would greatly weaken President Obama’s reelection prospects. Republican dissatisfaction with their choices makes it more likely that if a third party challenge comes, it will come from right. (The third party candidacy and the nominating process of Americans Elect may be dreams come true for Ron Paul and his supporters).
On the surface the premise appears counter intuitive, but the biggest threat to Obama’s reelection might not be Mitt Romney, but a third party challenge from a candidate like Stephen Colbert.