Campaign Drags Down Public Opinion of Republicans

President Obama's re-election effort is on shaky ground by most accounts. The president's approval rating hovers in the mid-40s, a level far below the presidents who secured second terms. The latest unemployment figures finally dropped below 9 percent, but the job market is still not growing at the pace it needs to in order to rebound before the election, and things could become dire if Europe does not fix its financial instability.

Still, Obama's political team shouldn't feel like giving up quite yet. A generic Republican averages just a 1-point lead over the president. Things look even better when the president is paired with a specific Republican, where he trumps Romney by 1 percent, Gingrich by 6 percent, and Perry by a 10-point spread.

As voters begin to tune in to the Republican primary election, that edge will likely grow even larger. A new poll from the Pew Research Center shows that the Republican primary has helped drag down public opinion of the GOPers. Of those surveyed, 31 percent said their views of the candidates are getting progressively worse, including 29 percent of independents. Only 10 percent of the independents sampled said their views of the field were getting better as the race unfolds.

The poll isn't all rosy news for the president, however. When asked how the primary is affecting their view of Obama, 19 percent of respondents said their view of the president had improved, but 21 percent said their impression had worsened. But that makes sense when voters are just seeing a crowded field of candidates all lobbing attacks at the president. Once the nomination has settled, Obama's numbers will likely go up when he can frame his re-election in terms of a specific opponent with defined issue stances.

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