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Obama "Very Vulnerable"?

Yesterday, I discussed an extensive swing state poll showing President Obama leading GOP contenders in all 9 Bush '04 states he won in 2008 (keep in mind that the Republicans probably have to win almost all these states in 2012 to win the electoral college.)

The Weekly Standard's Jeffrey Anderson, though, has his own data:

A CNN poll released this week asked Americans whether they plan to vote for or against President Obama in 2012. The options were "probably vote for," "probably not vote for," "definitely vote for," and "definitely not vote for." The most popular answer was "definitely not vote for" – chosen by 35 percent of respondents. Only 25 percent say they'll "definitely vote for" the president. 51 percent predict he will lose. ...
While a tremendous amount will depend on the strength of the Republican nominee, this much is evident: President Obama is very vulnerable.

Okay. Let's check out that CNN poll. The first thing you notice is that it doesn't ask people to choose between President Obama and a specific Republican, or even a "generic" Republican (generic candidates in either party generally poll well above actual human candidates.) It simply asks if you'll vote for Obama or not. Most lean toward no.

Does this mean much? I don't know. I don't see polls phrased like that very often. It does show a similar question at a similar point in the 1996 election cycle, and those either probably leaning against voting for Bill Clinton had 54%, against 39% definitely or probably voting for him. Anderson, naturally, does not mention this data point.

Like I've said, incumbent presidents generally win unless they're highly unpopular, and Obama is fairly popular. Things could easily change, but the data show that as of now Obama is clearly not "very vulnerable."