Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney remains the most competitive Republican presidential contender as far as President Obama is concerned, with the two men running even again this week.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely U.S. Voters finds Obama and Romney each earning 42% of the vote. Eight percent (8%) prefer some other candidate, and another eight percent (8%) are undecided.
Last week, Romney held a 45% to 39% advantage over the president, his biggest lead yet and the largest lead a named Republican candidate has held over Obama to date. However, the two candidates have been essentially tied in regular surveys since January 2011. Romney continues to be the only GOP hopeful to lead Obama in more than one survey. The former governor’s support has ranged from 38% to 45%, while Obama has picked up 40% to 46% of the vote in the surveys over the past year.
A generic Republican candidate now holds a narrow lead over Obama as has been the case in all but three weekly surveys since late May. But aside from Romney, Obama leads all the other named GOP candidates by as little as seven and as much as 15 percentage points in head-to-head matchups.
Among likely GOP primary voters nationwide, Romney is once again the front-runner with 29% support. Coming off his photo finish with Romney in the Iowa caucuses, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum now runs second among Republican voters with 21%, followed by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 16%. Gingrich led the pack in late November.
Voters identify all of the leading Republican presidential contenders as ideological conservatives but see Romney and Texas Congressman Ron Paul as the least conservative of the group.
The national survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on January 3-4, 2012 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. Seemethodology.
Romney holds a slight 45% to 41% lead over Obama among men. Among women, the president edges Romney 43% to 40%. Obama draws his strongest support from voters under the age of 40, while Romney leads among older voters.
Among voters not affiliated with either political party, Obama is ahead of Romney 39% to 33%. But 28% of these voters either favor some other candidate or are undecided.
Eighty percent (80%) of Tea Party members support Romney, but the president holds a 51% to 33% lead among voters who say they are not part of that movement. Obama captures 57% support from union members but is edged by Romney 44% to 40% among those who are not unionized.