President Obama has a lot of catching up to do in Iowa, according to a new statewide poll that shows him trailing Republican Mitt Romney and holding only a small lead against Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.
The Mason-Dixon poll, conducted from July 5-7, shows Romney leading Obama by three points, 42 to 39 percent. When undecided respondents are asked to which candidate they would lean, Romney leads, 47 to 44 percent. For an incumbent president to only be receiving 44 percent of the vote -- with leaners pushed -- in a state he won with 54 percent of the vote indicates significant slippage from 2008.
Bachmann, meanwhile, trails Obama, 47 to 42 percent. But when leaners are pushed, she runs just neck and neck with Obama, trailing 47 percent to 46 percent.
Among likely Republican caucusgoers, Bachmann has a statistically-insignificant lead over Romney, 32 percent to 29 percent. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty takes 7 percent of the vote, and former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., earns 6 percent. No other candidate scores higher then 3 percent.
The state of the economy -- both in the state and the nation as a whole -- appears to be fueling Iowa voters' impressions of the president. A near-majority (47 percent) said the economy is poor, while 41 percent said it is fair. Iowa has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country at 6.0 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics; that's seventh-lowest in the country.
The poll was conducted for the 501(c)4 Every Child Matters Education Fund, which supports increased public spending to assist children. It surveyed 629 likely general election voters in the Hawkeye State. The margin of error is +/- 3.9 percent. There was an oversample of 300 likely Republican caucusgoers; those results carry a margin of error of +/- 5.7 percent.