Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton
Barack Obama beat out Hillary Clinton for the 2008 Democratic nomination, but a new poll says Clinton would do better in 2012. Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would flatten Mitt Romney and Rick Perry in head-to-head matchups, according to a new poll by Time magazine.

The two Republicans wouldn't stand a chance against the secretary of state and former first lady, according to the Time poll. Clinton would beat Romney by 17 points, 55 percent to 38 percent, and Perry by 26 points, 58 percent to 32 percent. The poll did not look at hypothetical matchups between Clinton and any of the other Republican presidential candidates.

President Obama led by smaller margins: 3 points against Romney and 12 points against Perry.

When asked on NBC's Today Show earlier this month whether she would consider running for president in 2012 or 2016, Clinton said flatly, No.

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But the poll results are still interesting in that they show that the public's anger and distrust are directed not at all Democrats or even members of the Obama administration, but at President Obama specifically.

Clinton would likely support many of the same economic policies as Obama, including his health care reform law, which is almost universally reviled among Republicans as government overreach and a job-killer.

In fact, it was she who spearheaded the unsuccessful push for a similar law in 1993, when her husband, Bill Clinton, was president. That plan became known disparagingly as Hillarycare, just as critics now deride the 2010 health care law as Obamacare.

Some of Clinton's popularity probably comes from the fact that, as secretary of state, voters associate her with foreign policy victories like the killings of Osama bin Laden and Moammar Gadhafi.

But that seems unlikely to account for the whole discrepancy between her and Obama's performances against Romney and Perry, both because Obama is associated with those foreign policy victories as well and because numerous polls have shown that next year's election will hinge on the economy above any other issue.

Obama's critics say they will not vote for him because his policies have run the economy into the ground. But for some of them, it seems the problem is not Obama's policies, but Obama himself.