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Mitt Romney GOP front-runner but wouldn't beat Obama, says poll

Mitt Romney is ahead of Herman Cain, again. But in a head-to-head race with Barack Obama, Romney would lose, says a new AP-GFK poll

By Associated Press / October 20, 2011

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign stop in Milford, N.H

AP Photo/Steven Senne

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Washington

The race to select a Republican presidential candidate looks certain to get nastier as the stakes get higher, with a new AP-GFK poll showing President Barack Obama becoming increasingly vulnerable.

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A strong Republican nominee would be seen as having a reasonable chance of defeating Obama. The AP-GfK poll released Wednesday indicates that half of all Americans now believe Obama does not deserve to be re-elected.

But none of the Republicans vying to challenge him in 2012 has yet been able to outpoll him in a hypothetical head-to-head match up. And the Republican race remains in flux.

Among all adults surveyed, half said Obama should not be re-elected, and 46 percent said he should be. That continues his gradual slide since May.

Yet when all adults are asked about hypothetical head-to-head matchups, Obama and Romney run almost even, with Obama leading 48 to 45 percent. Obama holds a narrow edge over Cain, 49 percent to 43 percent. He leads Perry, 51 percent to 42 percent.

The poll found shifts in candidates' favorability ratings. These numbers don't necessarily track people's likelihood to vote for or against someone, but they offer insight into how candidates are being received as they become better known.

Romney, Cain and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich have gotten positive bumps since August. Romney and Cain are the only Republican contenders viewed favorably by more than 40 percent of all adults.

Romney's favorable rating has risen 10 points among all adults since August, and now stands at 49 percent. Increases came across party lines, but especially among conservative Republicans.

Cain's favorability rating among Republicans has nearly doubled as he has spent more time in the spotlight, increasing from 37 percent favorable in August to 71 percent favorable now. Just 10 percent of Republicans hold a negative impression of him. Party insiders will watch for signs that Tuesday's hard-hitting debate might wound Cain a bit.

Obama's favorability ratings are essentially unchanged since August, with 54 percent of adults holding a favorable view of him, and 44 percent unfavorable.

On Wednesday, Obama teamed up with his popular and personable wife on the final leg of a three-day bus trip, seeking to use her broad appeal to rally support. Michelle Obama's appearance on her husband's driving tour through North Carolina and Virginia, two politically important Southern states, comes as she takes a more active role in the 2012 campaign.

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