Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) slightly leads President Obama among registered voters, a new poll found Tuesday.
Romney and Obama are tied among all Americans, according to an ABC/Washington Post poll testing hypothetical match-ups between Republican presidential candidates and Obama.
Forty-nine percent of registered voters said they would choose Romney over Obama if the election were held today, compared to 46 who would reelect Obama, the poll found. While that lead was small enough to be considered within the margin of error, the pair are still tied at 47 percent among all Americans.
The results suggest that Romney is the candidate best positioned to knock off Obama in the 2012 election, and could help him make electability a key part of his pitch to Republican primary voters.
Romney is the only prospective candidate to lead Obama among registered voters. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) comes next closest. Obama would beat Gingrich by six percentage points, the poll found.
Obama's lead grows slightly when expanding the pool to all Americans. Obama enjoys a 10-point advantage over Gingrich, whom he leads 52-42 percent, and over former Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, whom he leads 50-40 percent.
Fifty-one percent would choose Obama, while 40 percent would elect former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R). And Obama enjoys even bigger leads over two other Tea Party darlings, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.). Obama gets 52 percent to Bachmann's 39, and he wins 56 percent support to Palin's 39.
The president's political weakness appears to be driven by Americans' dissatisfaction over the state of the economy. On Monday, veteran Democratic strategist James Carville warned the president's reelection could be "very rough" if job growth doesn't rebound. And to that end, dissatisfaction with Obama's handling of the economy and the federal budget deficit is at an all-time high in the ABC/Post poll.
Overall, the poll suggests the bump in approval ratings Obama enjoyed after the successful mission to kill Osama bin Laden is disappearing.
In the battle for the GOP nomination, Romney and Palin enjoy early leads — they're the first choice of 17 and 13 percent of Republicans, respectively — but there's no commanding front-runner in the field. Republicans are split, 47 percent to 46, over whether they're satisfied with the current field of GOP candidates, but even purported dream candidates like Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) or New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) don't register high levels of support in the poll.
The poll, conducted June 2-5, has a 3.5 percent margin of error.