Another interesting result I mined out of the YouGovUSA/Polimetrix poll (n=1,000, Feb 18-19, 2012).
Respondents were asked who they thought win a general election contest between (a) Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, and (b) Barack Obama and Rick Santorum. In addition to just looking at the marginals, I tabbed the results to these items by who the respondent said they were supporting the Republican primary:
In both cases a majority of respondents think that Obama will win. Fair enough. But what is interesting is the way this breaks out conditional on who the respondent is supporting in the Republican primary.
If Romney is the (hypothetical) Republican candidate, we get thumping majorities saying Romney beats Obama, among Romney, Santorum and Gingrich supporters. Paul supporters want Paul to somehow run (and win), and so the “someone else” category bumps up there.
But look at what happens when Romney supporters are asked about a Obama vs Santorum general election. A majority (56%) of them say that Obama beats Santorum, which, by the way, is right in line with the general population estimate (60% say Obama beats Santorum).
The result is based on not much data: total n is 1,000, and there are only 63 Romney supporters in the (unweighted); in a gen pop survey, most respondents get filtered away from the Republican primary preference question, since its pretty clear that they are not likely to vote in the Republican primaries/caucuses.
I’ll try to pool some other polls on this to see if this result holds up with more data.