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Obama 43%, Romney 42%

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and President Obama continue to run virtually even in a hypothetical Election 2012 matchup as they have for the past several weeks. Herman Cain is now the only Republican who has any kind of lead over the president.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely U.S. Voters shows Obama with 43% support to Romney’s 42%. Seven percent (7%) like some other candidate when given this matchup, and eight percent (8%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

A week ago, the  results were virtually the same, with Obama holding a slight 43% to 41% edge over Romney.  The two men have been within two points of each other in surveys since mid-September. Earlier that month, Romney posted a 43% to 40% lead over Obama. The president’s recent ceiling in matchups with Romney continues to be 43%.

Cain this week holds a very slight 43% to 41% lead over the incumbent. This coincides with his surge among likely Republican primary voters: Cain and Romney are now tied for the lead in the contest for the party’s 2012 presidential nomination, with none of the other hopefuls even close. Just two weeks ago, Cain trailed Obama by five points.

Cain’s quick climb to the top shows that Romney still has failed to close the sale with party voters. It will be interesting to see if Cain maintains his momentum after the Republican contenders debate again tonight in Las Vegas, Nevada.

As Scott Rasmussen noted with the release of the latest Obama-Cain matchup data on Monday, “Cain now has the chance to make the case for why he should be the challenger to Mitt Romney. Many others have auditioned for the role and fallen flat, and it remains to be seen whether Cain’s fate will be similar.” Rasmussen interviewed Cain for the Rasmussen Report on radio show. 

A generic Republican candidate has led the president by several points in hypothetical 2012 matchups for over three months now, but the race is closer when the GOP candidates are named. Rasmussen Reports will release the latest generic matchup data at 3 pm Eastern today.

(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 October 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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