Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are tied in the race for the Republican nomination for president, with Ron Paul the third choice among GOP primary voters, according to a new poll by CBS News.
The former Massachusetts governor and the former House speaker each got 20 percent support, with Paul receiving 10 percent. In the network’s poll last month, businessman Herman Cain was the top choice of Republican primary voters.
The remaining candidates were in the single digits. Texas Gov. Rick Perry had 6 percent, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, 4 percent, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, 3 percent, and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, 1 percent.
Romney and Gingrich were favored by different voter groups: Romney did better with moderate Republicans and non-tea party supporters, while Gingrich fared better with conservatives.
Overall, Republican voters found that Romney would be the better match for President Obama. Thirty-seven percent said he stood the best chance of beating Obama, compared with 31 percent who thought Gingrich had the best chance.
Among all Americans regardless of party affiliation, the poll showed Obama’s job approval rebounding. He got the thumbs up from 47 percent of respondents, up slightly from 44 percent earlier this month. The survey is remarkably consistent with two others released this week. Polls by CNN/ORC International and ABC News/Washington Post showed Obama’s approval rating increasing to 49 percent.
By contrast, the job-approval rating for Congress was just 11 percent, a warning sign to Republicans who control the House and have taken a confrontational approach to the White House on budget issues. And, just 9 percent of Republican primary voters approve of the way Congress is doing its job.
But the CBS poll contained this dose of reality for the Obama reelection campaign: The vast majority of Americans – some 69 percent – think the country is on the wrong track, compared with only 25 percent who say it’s heading in the right direction.
The poll was conducted Dec. 14-8 among 992 adults nationwide. Pollsters conducted 893 interviews with registered voters and 291 interviews with voters who said they plan to vote in a GOP primary. The margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.