As the Economy Grows, So Does Obama’s Lead Over GOP Candidates

Midway through the primary season, Republican voters wish they could have a do-over.

Posted: 02/15/2012 01:39 PM EST

The cast of Republican White House hopefuls has in the past several months spent enough money, collectively, to put a small third-world country on the road to lifelong prosperity. Each candidate says that he’s the best man to beat President Obama in November, but, according to a Feb. 14 CBS News/New York Times poll, they couldn't be more wrong.

 

In a match-up between Obama and the GOP field, 48 percent of registered voters said they would support the president in November over Mitt Romney (42 percent), with whom he was tied last month; Rick Santorum (41 percent); Ron Paul (39 percent); and Newt Gingrich (36 percent). In addition, his approval rating is at 50 percent, largely due to the public’s growing confidence in the economy.

 

In 2008, the prolonged primary process helped make Obama a stronger candidate, and it seems like the Republican primaries are having the same effect, particularly among independent voters. Watching Mitt Romney’s struggle to win over his own party has got to make them wonder why they should support him and Obama leads the former Massachusetts governor among this key group by nine points. Fifty-five percent of Republican primary voters said that Romney is the most electable, but only 23 percent believe that he best represents their values and one in three say that he’s not conservative enough.

 

Thirty-two percent of Republican primary voters said that Santorum, this month’s anti-Romney, is the candidate most likely to help the middle class; 53 percent said that Romney favors the rich. Nor does he have a lock on being the candidate best able to fix the economy: 25 percent said they are “very” confident Santorum could do the job compared to 25 percent for Romney.

 

Even when Obama’s job approval rating has been at its lowest point, he has remained personally popular. Romney is viewed unfavorably by 40 percent of registered voters, and favorably by just 26 percent.

 

The bottom line is that 62 percent of GOP primary voters want more choices, which is very bad news for a bottom-line guy like Romney.

 

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(Photo: Courtesy CBS News)

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