The new survey shows the president leading Romney by six points, 48 percent to 42 percent, among registered voters. Last month, the two men were tied at 45 percent each.Romney's electability argument has perhaps been dinged a little---not because other candidates are rising in the polls vs. Obama but because Romney has sunk (though he still outperforms other GOP candidates by a couple points or so, according to most polls). Some of this decline is due no doubt to the nastiness of the primary raising the negatives of all candidates, particularly alienating independents. Perhaps, when the primary season ends, and the race moves on to the general election, some of those negative associations will fade into the background.
Mr. Obama's lead over former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who has surged to a lead in national polls, is eight points: 49 percent to 41 percent.
Romney's drop in support against the president is attributable to a shift among independents. Last month, independents favored the former Massachusetts governor by eight points over Mr. Obama. In the new survey, Mr. Obama holds the edge, leading Romney among independents by nine points.
The president holds double-digit leads over the other two GOP candidates in the race, Rep. Ron Paul and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Mr. Obama leads Paul 50 percent to 39 percent - an 11 point margin - and he leads Gingrich 54 percent to 36 percent, a difference of 18 points.
Still, it's worth noting that, in the middle of February 2008, amidst the hard-fought Democratic primary of that year, Obama led McCain by at least half a dozen points according to most polls. He ended up winning in November by a little over 7 points. The GOP had better hope that the trend will be different in 2012 (and it has plenty of reasons for this hope).