With the Republican presidential candidates gearing up for a debate in Iowa Thursday and a key straw poll in Ames on Saturday, a new national poll reveals how high the stakes are, as all eyes turn to the Hawkeye State.
A poll taken across the nation by Gallup for USA Today shows a close battle for the Republican presidential nomination and that President Barack Obama remains vulnerable in his bid for a second term.
The poll, unveiled on Monday, reveals that former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts remains the front-runner in the contest for the Republican nomination. Romney, who ran for the Republican nomination in 2008, took 24 percent. Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, who is expected to formally enter the race in the coming days, stood in second with 17 percent. Another favorite son of the Lone Star State -- U.S. Rep. Ron Paul -- is in third with 14 percent, while U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota took fourth with 13 percent.
The rest of the field trailed in single digits. Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich stood in fifth place with 7 percent followed by businessman Herman Cain with 4 percent. Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota took 3 percent followed by former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman with 2 percent and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania with 1 percent.
The poll found that Obama was in trouble as he looks to win a second term in 2012. Obama was upside down in the poll with a majority -- 51 percent -- thinking that he does not deserve to be re-elected. Forty-seven percent of those surveyed thought the president deserved four more years. Obama did better when matched against an unnamed Republican, though he remained under 50 percent. When matched against a generic Republican opponent, Obama topped the poll 49 percent to 45 percent.
Congress generated its lowest marks ever in the poll. Gallup has been asking since 1991 if most members of Congress deserve to be re-elected. In the most recent poll, only 24 percent thought so. Still, most members of Congress should be able to sleep at night as 56 percent of those surveyed thought that their own representatives deserved another term.
Gallup polled 1,319 Americans from Aug. 4-7. The poll had a margin of error of+/- 4 percent.
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