Rasmussen Reports released polling data on potential 2012 match-ups for the general election this morning, and the highlights include hypothetical races between President Obama and two of his top potential rivals – Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin.

According to the poll, Obama would defeat the soon-to-be-ex-governor of Alaska 48% to 42%. In a match-up against 2008 GOP candidate Mitt Romney, it would appear things are a bit tighter. In fact, the race is a dead heat, with each man getting 45% of the vote.

One of the more telling statistics is how Palin and Romney fared among undecideds:

When Romney is the Republican nominee, he beats Obama among unaffiliated voters 48% to 41%. But when Palin is the GOP candidate, unaffiliated voters prefer Obama by a 47% to 41% margin.

But there is one stunner in the report – nearly a third of all Republicans think that Sarah Palin should run as an independent, if she were to fail to win the GOP nomination. And if she were to run as a third party, the results would be likely do more harm to the GOP candidate than to Obama.

Yes it’s just a poll. But it’s fun to see where things stand just three years out…

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