President Obama is struggling in the polls against would-be Republican challengers because voters dont know the GOP contenders well enough yet, a top White House official said Thursday.

Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer expressed confidence that Obama would perform better against former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney or Texas Gov. Rick Perry once Americans familiarize themselves with those GOP presidential candidates.

My guess is that a significant portion of the people polled, the American people, dont know what Mitt Romneys economic plan is yet, Pfeiffer said on MSNBC. Im confident they will know that he supports Cut, Cap and Balance, which would essentially end Medicare, end Social Security.

The president has struggled in recent polling against both Perry and Romney, two of the leading candidates to snag the Republican presidential nomination and face off against Obama in the general election. Election polling shows Obama locked in a tight race against both men, and a Quinnipiac University poll Wednesday found that voters give Romney the edge over Obama in terms of handling the economy.

The numbers, Pfeiffer argued, show what they do because Obama is being measured against voters highest expectations rather than against a specific opponent.

What I think is always true before you get into an actual contest of ideas in an election is the incumbent is judged not against his or her opponent, theyre judged against the ideal, he said.

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