Gallup poll: Obama trails generic GOP challenger by 5 points

President Obama would lose to a generic Republican challenger in 2012, a Gallup poll found Friday.

Forty-four percent of registered voters said they would elect a Republican candidate next fall, while 39 percent said they would reelect Obama. Eighteen percent expressed no opinion.

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Gallup's numbers are a testament to Obama's political vulnerability at the moment, attributable in no small part to poor performance in the economy. But the figures also suggest weaknesses in the Republican field.

While a generic Republican leads Obama, specific Republicans trail the president. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll earlier this week found that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) would lose, 49-43 percent, to Obama, while the president would best former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), 50 percent to 37. There was one poll last month showing Romney beating Obama among registered voters, but Obama leads all would-be Republican challengers in other polls.

Nonetheless, the erosion in Obama's political standing might be encouraging for those Republican candidates; this is the first time a GOP candidate has led Obama in Gallup's test of the generic ballot. And the advantage extends to independent voters: Forty-two percent of independents said they're inclined to elect a Republican in 2012, versus 32 percent who prefer Obama.

The poll, conducted June 9-12, has a 4 percent margin of error.