Although it’s not being reported as such, Rasmussen reports a very worrisome number for the Democrats and President Obama:

If the 2012 presidential election were held today, President Obama and possible Republican nominee Mitt Romney would be all tied up at 45% each, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.

The president, seeking a second four-year term, beats another potential GOP rival, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, by six points – 48% to 42%.

In both match-ups, seven percent (7%) like some other candidate, with three percent (3%) undecided.
Palin is second only to Romney as the presidential candidate Republican voters say right now that they’ll vote for in 2012 state GOP primaries. But she’s also one of two candidates they least hope wins the party’s nomination.

Now, in the media I’ve seen, everyone’s making this a Romney vs. Palin story but to any political consultant the number that really jumps out is Obama’s.

When political folks are deciding whether to pour money into a race to unseat an incumbent one of the main things they do is, of course, poll. And it’s not that they’re expecting to see a close race because no challenger even exists at that point. What political consultants are looking for is the magic 50% number to re-elect.

The math is that if an incumbent has less than a 50% re-elect number, they’re vulnerable. And then the powers-that-be decide who they can get to run that can raise money or can self-finance.

And Obama tops out vs. Palin at 48%. And he’s a tad lower vs. Romney at 45%.

To Republicans, this number means that Obama can be beaten. And the money people may very well come out to play.

To Democrats, it’s far more worrisome. Many Democrats have won seats in traditionally red districts the last two cycles and they know that they’re vulnerable themselves. So they have to moderate their votes to appeal to moderates and some right wingers in order to stay in power. But Obama is pushing them hard to the left to support cap and trade as well as his health care plan. Those legislators seeing polls like this start thinking that if Obama is vulnerable they can’t follow his lead.

Obama’s strength comes from high poll numbers. If, as this poll seems to indicate is happening, his numbers drop many legislators may just ignore Obama and focus on pleasing their constituents. So polls like this have a very real effect on Obama’s legislation right now. But you’re not going to see much of that reported by the Ordinary Ministers of the media.

Update: Ed Morrissey at Hot Air seems to agree.