In presidential elections, they say you "can't beat somebody with nobody," and "they" are right. Even an unpopular president can win re-election if he does not face a substantial opponent.
While opinion polls fluctuate a lot from month to month - and certainly will fluctuate a lot between now and Election Day in 2012 - it appears President Barack Obama is extremely vulnerable.
For instance, the latest survey of registered voters by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute in Connecticut puts his job approval rating at its lowest level of any such polls that Quinnipiac has conducted for this president. Only 42 percent of those surveyed said he is doing a good job, while 48 percent disapprove of his performance.
While Democrats predictably gave the president high marks and Republicans predictably give him poor marks, independent voters disapprove of the job he is doing by a strong 50 percent to 39 percent.
So the president is vulnerable to a good challenger.
But when the 2012 election comes, will he ride to re-election not because he holds sound views and has performed ably, but merely because the GOP neglected to field a principled, appealing, decisive candidate?
Polls this far out are scarcely a reliable gauge of who might win in 2012. But with the president enjoying the benefit of incumbency, his re-election is sadly likely if no worthy challenger steps forward.