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Obama loses ground against any Republican opponent, is now essentially tied

July 29, 2011 |  6:08 am

mitt Romney 6-9-11

As incumbent presidents usually do, Barack Obama held a substantial lead earlier this year over a generic Republican in a hypothetical 2012 matchup. The known quantity versus the unknown.

The lead had grown to 11 points by Memorial Day.

But increased unemployment and the current schoolyard wrangling in Washington over raising the debt ceiling seem to have cost him -- 10 of those 11 points, to be precise.

A new poll of some 1,500 Americans by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press finds 41% of registered voters say they'd like to see the ex-state senator reelected to the White House, while 40% say they'd prefer a Republican now.

So, now being the known quantity is a minus versus the unknown Republican.

Most damaging to the Democrat is a sharp plummet in his support among independents, those voters who were so crucial to his decisive 2008 victory. Only 31% of those independents now want to see him get a second term, almost a 25% drop from the 42% who liked the Obama II idea back in May.

Among Republicans, not surprisingly this far out, Pew finds the field still in turmoil, with Mitt Romney maintaining his convincing front-runner status over other announced GOP contenders.

Some ominous signs of party dissatisfaction, however, for the former governor of Massachusetts. A current governor, Rick Perry of Texas, is drawing considerable interest from Republicans paying close attention to the so far somnolent summertime campaign.

Among those, 22% already support Perry, while 15% go with Romney. And Perry hasn't even announced a candidacy. That could come next month after he and aides complete an assessment of the money they're likely able to raise.

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-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Rebecca Cook / Reuters (Mitt Romney)

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