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Obama 43%, Huntsman 35%

Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman is having difficulty gaining traction in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, but he fares about the same as some of the top GOP contenders in a hypothetical matchup with President Obama.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds the president earning 43% of the vote to Huntsman’s 35% in a one-on-one matchup with the man who recently stepped down as Obama’s ambassador to China. Twelve percent (12%) like some other candidate in the race, and 10% are undecided. (To see question wording, click here.) 

Obama posted a 44% to 28% lead over Huntsman in early July.

While the president continues to trail a generic Republican candidate in weekly Rasmussen Reports matchups, he earns 39% to 46% of the vote against named Republican challengers. Despite those relatively low levels of support, Obama has never trailed a Republican by more than three percentage points and has enjoyed large double-digit leads in some matchups.

Obama now leads Texas Governor Rick Perry, the frontrunner in the GOP contest, 46% to 39%. Perry’s chief rival for the nomination, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney , holds a narrow 43% to 40% lead over the president. Another GOP hopeful, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann trails Obama by double digits.

The fact that Huntsman remains in the same ballpark as some of the top GOP hopefuls suggests that the presidential race remains a referendum on Obama. In all the matchups, a decent number of voters opt for a third option or are undecided. In last week’s surveys, among those who are undecided, just 34% approve of the way the president has handled his job, while 64% disapprove.

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls).  Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on September 16-17, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

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