Obama leads Romney 51 percent to 41. In PPP’s only other Iowa poll, conducted in October, Romney led Obama 46 to 42.
The PPP poll indicates that although Romney has claimed the mantle of presumptive Republican nominee, the primary season left him badly bruised.
Romney has an abysmal favorability rating in Iowa, with 34 percent saying they view him positively, compared to 56 who have an unfavorable view of him. Romney’s favorability rating is even worse among independents in Iowa, with only 28 percent saying they view him favorably, compared to 59 unfavorably.
Obama was underwater with Iowa voters last fall, when 43 percent said they viewed him favorably against 52 percent who viewed him unfavorably. The president has since recovered, and is now at 49 percent favorable and 46 unfavorable.
Obama holds a massive lead among independents in Iowa, leading Romney 54 to 34.
Most polls show Obama and Romney running neck-and-neck nationally, but Iowa is one of 12 battleground states that will be critical in determining the outcome of the 2012 election, and early in the cycle Obama seems to be outperforming in these territories.
A PPP poll released earlier on Tuesday showed Obama with a 7 percent lead in Ohio, which is another key battleground state.