ABC News’ Devin Dwyer (@devindwyer) reports: President Obama is in a statistical dead heat when matched with each of four GOP presidential contenders in a hypothetical 2012 election match-up, according to a new Gallup survey of registered voters.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leads Obama by a 48 percent to 46 percent margin, while Texas Gov. Rick Perry ties the president at 47 percent. Obama bests Ron Paul by a 47-45 divide and Michele Bachmann by 48-44 split. All results are within a 4-point margin of error.
While Obama has polled consistently close against a generic Republican in recent months, the new findings show the race remains competitive even when specific candidates, each with varying degrees of name recognition and popularity, are juxtaposed with the president.
Obama’s approval rating on the economy, the top election issue among registered voters, hit a new low in Gallup polling last week: Just 26 percent approve of Obama, while 71 percent disapprove. His overall job approval stands at 40 percent.
Still, the latest survey suggests Obama’s approval numbers underestate the support he’d likely receive at the ballot box when matched against a Republican if the election were held today.
With more than a year before Nov. 6, 2012, however, pollsters note the presidential horserace can and will change.
Consider, from Gallup: at this point in 1999, George W. Bush was crushing Al Gore in a Gallup match-up, but then barely beat him on election day. Bob Dole was in a dead heat with Bill Clinton in August 1995 before Clinton later beat him by eight points more than a year later. And, in the summer of 1979, Jimmy Carter was tied with Ronald Reagan before getting walloped at the ballot box in 1980.