Every time I look at the field of Republican candidates for president, I find myself distinctly… underwhelmed.  But I figure, maybe it’s just my own ideological bias – after all, how many Republican candidates are going to look good to a progressive?  Hell, I don’t even like most Democrats anymore.

Well, apparently it’s not just me:

Two of the three people at the top of new national poll in the battle for the Republican nomination may not even run for the White House. And a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey also suggests that there is not a lot of enthusiasm about any of the major candidates.

According to the poll, which was released Friday, 16 percent of Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP say they would most likely support Rudy Giuliani as their party’s nominee. One point behind, at 15 percent is Mitt Romney, with Sarah Palin coming in at 13 percent.

In other words, more right-leaning voters chose the guy they wanted no part of in 2008, over all of the actual and potential candidates currently in play.  Which is even more damning if any of those respondents considered that a Noun-Verb-9/11 campaign strategy might not work so well against the president who killed bin Laden.

(As an aside, it warms my little heart to see Sarah Palin fall from darling of the right and presumptive undeclared frontrunner to third place behind Rudy and Mitt.  Can I get a Nelson laugh?)

Matt Bai tries to offer up some happy spin on the lameness by suggesting that a dark horse candidate could magically emerge to become the Republican Bill Clinton, but I challenge anyone to tell me who it might be.  Huntsman’s the only one who seems at all promising, but there’s no way he could ever win over the hard-right base.  We already know Mitt, Newt, T-Paw, Bachmann and Paul (and Palin) well enough that they have no surprises to offer, and I just don’t see any of the minor candidates catching fire.

Obama could still lose next year, but if he does it’ll be because of his own failures and betrayals, or an avalanche of attack ads from the Chamber Of Kochs, and not because he was undone by some kind of charismatic political prodigy.  Unless you count Obama ’08.