The 2012 presidential race begins in earnest on Nov. 3 -- the day after the upcoming midterm elections -- and President Obama looks to be in trouble at the starting gate.
A Fox News poll released Friday shows that 54 percent of voters say they would vote for someone else rather than re-electing Obama if the presidential election were held today. That’s up from 47 percent in a January poll and 31 percent in April 2009.
Thirty-nine percent would vote to re-elect the president now, down from 43 percent in January. That's a dramatic drop from the 52 percent who felt that way in April, at his term's 100-day mark.
Among Democrats, the overall number who would re-elect the president has dropped to 75 percent, down from 87 percent at the beginning of his term. And there is an even more significant decline in the number of Democrats who say they would “definitely” vote to re-elect Obama -- from 69 percent near the start of his term to 41 percent now.
There’s a similar falloff in support among those who voted for Obama in the 2008 election. In the new poll, 40 percent of 2008 Obama voters say they would “definitely” vote to re-elect him, down from 64 percent in April 2009.
Among independents, 32 percent would vote to re-elect Obama, down from a high of 43 percent in April 2009. Meanwhile 57 percent of independents say they would vote for someone else -- twice as many as the 28 percent who felt that way near the start of his term.
The national telephone poll was conducted for Fox News by Opinion Dynamics Corp. among 900 registered voters from Sept. 28 to Sept. 29. For the total sample, the poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Voters would also like to see a change in the No. 2 slot on the Obama ticket. By more than 2-to-1 they would prefer to have Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (55 percent) as vice president over Vice President Joe Biden (25 percent). There’s an even stronger preference among Democrats: 67 percent say Clinton compared to 25 percent who prefer Biden.
Even with all the negatives, in hypothetical head-to-head matchups Obama tops each of the Republican candidates tested, although in the case of former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, it’s by just 1 percentage point (41-40 percent). In January, Obama led by 12 percentage points (47-35 percent).
Obama has a 43-40 percent edge over former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and an even wider advantage over New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (42-30 percent), former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (45-37 percent), and former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin (48-35 percent).
The president tops an unnamed candidate from the Tea Party movement by 11 points (43-32 percent), which is a much narrower spread than earlier this year when Obama’s advantage was 25 points (48-23 percent).
What about if an independent candidate makes it a three-way race? Obama gets 40 percent to Palin’s 28 percent, with independent candidate New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg capturing 18 percent.
It’s a tighter race if it includes Hillary Clinton as the independent candidate. In that hypothetical matchup, Obama would receive 30 percent, Palin 29 percent and Clinton 27 percent.
Mike Huckabee is the host of “Huckabee” on Fox News Channel and Sarah Palin is a Fox News contributor.