Poll: Obama leads top Republicans, but voters sour on economy

Although economic troubles continue to threaten President Obama's reelection prospects, he still posts sizable leads over top Republican candidates in head-to-head match-ups, according to the latest Battleground poll.

Obama leads Mitt Romney by six percentage points and Herman Cain by nine, giving him a leg up on his expected competition in the 2012 contest.

But more than half of Americans disapprove of the job the president has done, and against a generic Republican opponent, Obama posts a 43-43 percent tie, betraying the difficulty the president will face in selling his record in a tough reelection fight. Obama's approval rating is even lower in 19 swing states identified by the pollers — there, only 40 percent approve of the president's performance, with 57 percent disapproving.

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In those swing states, a generic Republican leads Obama 46 percent to 39.

Unsurprisingly, Obama's struggles stem almost entirely from the faltering economy. Forty-seven percent of Americans strongly disapprove of the job he is doing in that area, and another 15 percent disapprove somewhat. Conversely, only 35 percent of those surveyed approve of how the president was handling the economy.

Voters also seem displeased with Obama's handling of the federal budget, with half of those surveyed saying they strongly disapprove of the president's handling of federal spending. More than half also disapprove of the way Obama has been handling job growth.


Still, most of those surveyed don't want to see cuts to the programs that represent the biggest part of the federal buffet. Seventy-six percent of those surveyed said that the worst possible item to cut would be either healthcare, defense or Social Security — the largest slices of the federal deficit.

But Obama will have a tough time selling himself in a climate where two-thirds of Americans don't believe the next generation will be better off than the current one. 

If there is any consolation for the president, it is that voters still appear fractured when it comes to the Republican field. Herman Cain led the survey with 27 percent of support, despite a difficult two weeks dominated by sexual harassment allegations. Mitt Romney trailed closely with 25 percent of the vote, with Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich rounding out the top tier with 14 percent each.

But those surveyed seemed to concede to the conventional wisdom that Mitt Romney would be the eventual nominee, with nearly half saying they believed the former Massachusetts governor would prevail in the Republican nominating contest. Twenty-two percent said the same about Herman Cain, with no other candidate breaking double digits.