New poll shows Romney with national lead over Obama

Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney holds a slim edge over President Obama in a new national poll from Fox News that shows support for the president dropping to its lowest level of the year.

According to the poll, Romney bests the president by a margin of 46 percent to 44. 

The lead for Romney is the first the Republican challenger has held in the poll since mid-November. It's the first national poll to show Romney gaining some momentum after essentially sewing up the GOP nomination.

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His lead comes off tumbling approval numbers for the president in the poll by Fox. Of those surveyed, more than half — 51 percent — disapproved of the president, versus 42 percent who approved. The poll was surveyed even before the flap over Democratic adviser Hilary Rosen's suggestion that Romney's wife, Ann, has "never worked a day in her life," giving Republicans ammunition in an escalating fight over female voters.

But there's also the possibility that the Fox poll is an outlier. Gallup and Rasmussen surveys of the same period both show a 48 percent approval rating for the president, a significant disparity from the Fox poll, which included a smaller sample size.

Still, the survey carried a number of troubling signs for the president's reelection team.

According to those polled, 42 percent of Republicans say they are "extremely" interested in the upcoming presidential election — far higher than the 32 percent of Democrats or 34 percent of independents who responded similarly. 

Those independents are breaking for Romney as well — 43 percent say they will back the former governor, while just 37 percent say they would support the president.

Likely voters are also rejecting the president's signature healthcare reform plan, with more than half — 53 percent — saying they oppose the legislation, and only four in 10 saying they support it. 

Furthermore, a majority of those surveyed say they are "concerned" or "scared" about the country's future, and more voters say the president's policies have hurt instead of helped the economy. Two in three voters are unhappy with the direction of the country.