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Obama 46%, Perry 39%

Before he entered his first debate as a presidential candidate, Texas Governor Rick Perry was the Republican frontrunner and held a modest lead in a hypothetical matchup against President Obama. Perry was the target for all the other candidates in the two most recent GOP debates, however, and he now trails the president by single digits.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely U.S. Voters shows Obama picking up 46% of the vote, while Perry earns support from 39%. Fifteen percent (15%) are either undecided or prefer another candidate. Two weeks ago, Perry was up by three. Three weeks ago, the president held a three-point edge over the governor. (To see question wording, click here.)

Now, Perry’s chief rival for the nomination, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, holds a three-point lead on the president. Another GOP hopeful, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, trails Obama by double digits. The fluctuation in Perry's, Romney's and Bachmann’s numbers comes as a Generic Republican maintains a steady lead over the president. 

The president’s Job Approval ratings remain consistently in the low-to-mid 40s. As the election draws closer, Obama’s Job Approval will provide a good indication of his likely vote total. If his Job Approval rating is over 50% in November 2012, it will be difficult for any Republican to beat him. If his ratings move into the low 40s or below, it will be difficult for the president to win unless there is a major third-party candidate in the mix.

Perceptions of the economy are likely to play a significant role in shaping the president’s Job Approval ratings. Currently, Americans say their own finances are weaker than the day Obama took office and significantly weaker than in the fall of 2008.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on September 14-15, 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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