President Barack Obama would tie with Rick Perry, lose to Mitt Romney and face a tough race against Ron Paul or Michele Bachmann in a head-to-head race, according to a nationwide Gallup poll released Monday.
Romney is the strongest candidate against the sitting president, leading Obama 48 to 46 percent among registered voters. Perry, who has been in the race for just over a week, ties Obama, with both receiving 47 percent of the vote. Obama narrowly beats out Ron Paul, 47 to 45 percent, and holds only a slightly larger lead against Michele Bachmann — 48 to 44 percent.
The poll, conducted Aug. 16–17, surveyed voters at a time when they were giving Obama the lowest approval ratings as measured by Gallup since the start of his presidency. His approval rating has stayed close to 40 percent in recent weeks, twice dropping to 39 percent, the lowest measured approval since his inauguration.
The Republican front-runners are actually outpolling the generic Republican, according to Gallup’s numbers. In the beginning of August, 39 percent said they would vote for an unspecified GOP candidate, while 45 percent said they would vote for president Obama.
Gallup found that more Republicans would support Perry and Romney against Obama than would support Bachmann or Paul. Ninety-two percent of Republicans would vote for Perry over Obama, and 91 percent would vote for Romney. But just 82 percent would vote for Paul over Obama, and 86 percent for Bachmann over the president.
Independents also favor Romney and Perry, as well as Ron Paul: All three beat out Obama among independents. However, independents are less inclined to vote for Bachmann, and she loses to Obama among that demographic, 48 to 42 percent. (RELATED: GOP presidential candidates weigh in on Libya)
Of course, the Republican field is liable to change at any moment, with speculation buzzing about Sarah Palin, Rudy Giuliani, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, and George Pataki potentially joining the race.
Obama faces mixed prospects against those candidates. A CNN/Opinion Research Center poll released August 11 found that Giuliani would beat Obama 51 to 45 percent among registered voters. Palin, on the other hand, continues to poll poorly against the president, getting 41 to his 55 percent in the CNN/ORC poll, and just 33 percent to Obama’s 50 percent in a Rasmussen poll released Monday.
Gallup’s results are based on telephone interviews with 1,026 adults nationwide on August 17 and August 18, including a sample of 879 registered voters. The margin of error for both samples is plus or minus four percentage points.