If the 2012 presidential election were held now between President Obama… (Brendan Smialowski / European…)
If the 2012 presidential election were held now between President Obama and Mitt Romney, Romney would win, according to a Quinnipiac University opinion poll released on Wednesday.
Forty-six percent would vote for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney while 42% would vote for Obama, the poll found. Romney has been gaining in Quinnipiac’s head-to-head matchup. In July, Obama had a six percentage point advantage; by August, the two were tied.
If Obama’s Republican contender was Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Obama would do better, but the race would still be tight, the data shows. Forty-five percent would cast their vote for Obama, compared to 44% for Perry. That’s within the poll’s margin of error -- 2.1 percentage points.
Of likely Republican voters, 22% said Romney was their favorite nominee. That's 4% more than in mid-August, but still 3% less than in July. Businessman Herman Cain placed second with 17%, followed by ex-frontrunner Perry, who would have the support of 14% if the GOP’s primary were being held today. Since August, Cain’s support climbed from 5% while Perry’s dropped 10%.
“After seeing his lead disappear with the entrance of Rick Perry into the race, Mitt Romney has regained his position out front as the Texas governor’s fortunes have fallen,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “The GOP race, however, remains quite open, especially with [New Jersey] Gov. Christopher Christie’s decision to remain on the sidelines,”
“A big question now is whether Herman Cain is a serious candidate for the nomination,” Brown added.
Quinnipiac surveyed 2,118 registered voters in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Virginia as well as in the swing states of Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio between Sept. 27 and Oct. 3 -- before Christie made his abstention known.
Fifty-four percent felt that Obama does not deserve to be reelected, as opposed to 42% who said he does. That is no significant change since August, but in mid-July, voters were evenly split at 47% on both sides.
The poll also showed that Americans are strongly divided over Obama’s leadership qualities. Forty-nine percent said he had strong leadership qualities and 49% said he did not. In contrast, 55% attributed strong leadership qualities to Mitt Romney while only 24% did not.
“Voters are looking for somebody to turn the economy around,” Peter Brown emphasized. Obama “is treading water in the deep part of the pool.”
Richter is a special correspondent in the Washington bureau.