Gingrich and Romney Tied in Poll; Republican ‘Circus’ Helped Obama’s Approval Rating, Dowd Said

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Newt Gingrich has fallen in the race for the Republican nomination, according to our latest ABC News/ Washington Post poll, and he's now running even with Mitt Romney at 30%.

One reason for Romney's bump and Gingrich's drop might this number: Only 28% believe the former Speaker is best able to beat President Obama compared to 38% who say that person is Romney.

Former political strategist Matt Dowd compared Romney to children seeing a red wagon on Christmas morning - "reliable" but not exciting.

"When they walk down and they see a red wagon and are like 'Well that's boring, I'm going to go open that fancy gift over there.' And they open it up and it breaks. And they open up another one and it breaks and…they keep looking at the red wagon. Mitt Romney is like the red wagon that they know is reliable but they don't feel happy about it. In the end they are going to have to make that choice and that choice is coming up," Dowd, an ABC News consultant, told me on "GMA."

If voters think Romney could beat Obama, they are more likely to back him, "because they would just as soon dislike Obama more than they would like their nominee," Dowd said.

Obama saw his highest approval rating since the spring - at 49%. But Dowd said that number got some help from the GOP.                                                                                                                                                                                                                

"[Obama] is also benefitting from the fact that the Republican nomination process looks like a circus right now and he gets a benefit from, 'Is that who we are going to have to pick from?'" Dowd said. "I think once a Republican nominee is in place this race will be very competitive."

Take a look at our conversation here:

- George Stephanopoulos

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