Obama Expands National Lead Over Republican Rivals: Poll

Washington, Mar 29 (IANS): President Barack Obama has widened his lead over Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, his potential Republican rivals in the November presidential election, to double digits in a new national poll.

In the hypothetical match-ups, 54 percent of registered voters would back Obama compared with 43 percent for Republican front-runner Romney in the CNN/ORC International Poll. Obama had a lead of five percentage points over the former Massachusetts governor in February.

If the election were held today, Obama would lead former senator Santorum 55 percent to 42 percent. Last month, the president had a seven-point lead over Romney's closest rival in the Republican nomination race.

The new survey also marks the first time Obama's job-approval rating has been over 50 percent in CNN polling since last May, when the president was still riding high after the death of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

The tumultuous Republican nomination race is apparently affecting people's perceptions of the candidates who want to take on Obama. Romney, Santorum and former House speaker Newt Gingrich all have higher unfavourable ratings among Americans than favourable ones.

Americans are about equally divided on Ron Paul, the fourth Republican hopeful. The Texas Congressman is viewed favourably by 35 percent of Americans, compared with 38 percent who have unfavourable views of him.

Although Obama has been president for more than three years, 56 percent of Americans continue to blame former president George W. Bush and the Republicans for the country's current economic problems, with only 29 percent blaming Obama and the Democrats.

The number of Americans who say the economy's in good shape has jumped 13 points since January, though the survey shows a majority still think it is in poor shape.

"President Obama currently wins majority support among groups that have been problematic for him in the past, including men, older voters, and suburbanites," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "He has a solid lead among independents as well."


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Title: Obama Expands National Lead Over Republican Rivals: Poll

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