Then we may have a problem in 2012 since the two front runners have similar negative baggage.
Governor Sarah Palin has 52% negatives after being bombarded with unfavorable coverage since 2008. But, that's only 2 points from President Obama's 50% negatives despite fawning media coverage since 2008.
So, is a 50% or 52% negative rating enough to sink a candidate? Apparently not. There's not much serious commentary on the Democrats nominating someone other than Obama for 2012. Or much serious commentary on any Republican candidate easily defeating him.
Would Republicans have a better chance with someone with lower initial negatives? That's the problem. Lower initial negatives. Just ask President Bill Clinton how fast one's image can be slimed by ridiculous charges. Clinton had to defend himself in the national press for "racist" comments. One gets the feel for how fast huge negatives can accumulate for even the squeakiest clean Republican.
Ideas and leadership are the central issue. On major issues who has carried the banner best?
On Obamacare? On economic policy? On the size and role of government?
At this point, there is no candidate who can hold a candle to Governor Palin as a leader on these issues. And she has charisma too.
To blame the person out in front of the charge for getting more flack than those following is unfair and shortsighted.