Gallup finds Obama deadlocked against generic Republican

A new Gallup poll found registered voters are split over whether they would vote for President Obama in 2012. 

Asked if they would vote for Obama or a generic Republican next year, 45 percent said they would support Obama and 45 percent said they would vote for the GOP candidate. 

The poll, release Wednesday, underlines an opportunity for the large field of potential Republican candidates looking to defeat Obama on the heels of the Democrats' "shellacking" in the 2010 midterm elections, when they lost control of the House and six Senate seats.

The results of the generic ballot survey are virtually unchanged from last year, when Obama held a slight two-point edge over a generic Republican. 

But the poll suggests Obama is more vulnerable than former President George W. Bush at this point in his presidency. 

When Gallup polled voters in 2003 to test Bush's reelection prospects, the Texas Republican led a generic Democrat 47-39 percent.

Even though the poll shows Republicans have the chance to defeat Obama, much will depend on who is selected as the nominee. Several polls, including a Fox News survey released this month, show the president besting several potential rivals, including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

The Gallup poll also showed Obama with strong support from women and minorities, two of his key constituencies from his successful 2008 campaign. But young people have increasingly shied away from the president: Fifty-one percent of registered voters between the ages of 18 and 34 said they would vote for Obama, compared to 63 percent who backed him in a 2008 Gallup pre-election poll.

Gallup polled 1,015 adults between Feb. 2-5. The margin of error among the sample of registered voters is four percentage points.