Public Policy Polling may have buried the lede in its latest news release.
The pollster, which mainly works for Democratic candidates, starts by talking about Mitt Romney facing a tough road here, despite effectively wrapping up the nomination when former Sen. Rick Santorum suspended his campaign earlier this week. The release goes on to say PPP's latest poll shows Obama with a 49 percent approval rating in the state, one percentage point shy of the magical 50 percent mark and one percentage point ahead of his "negative" number.
But what caught our attention was this paragraph, deep in the release:
"Ron Paul matches Romney's general election viability in North Carolina, also trailing Obama by a 5 point margin at 48-43. Newt Gingrich would be far weaker, trailing Obama by 10 points at 51-41. His favorability spread is 26/64. It's irrelevant now but we found Rick Santorum trailing Obama 50-44 on this poll."
Really? Paul hasn't come close to winning a single state in the primary but he'd be just as good as Romney against Obama this fall? And he's doing better in that regard than Gingrich, who is actually spending some time here?
Of course, unless something quite unusual happens -- like Gingrich catching fire all of a sudden -- those are purely academic questions.