Gallup has GOP contenders tied or close with Obama

A Gallup snapshot poll less than 15 months out from the November, 2012 election shows the president in deep trouble.

Not only does he fail to crack 50% support; he is looking up at Mitt Romney and can feel Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, and Ron Paul breathing down his neck:

President Barack Obama is closely matched against each of four possible Republican opponents when registered voters are asked whom they would support if the 2012 presidential election were held today. Mitt Romney leads Obama by two percentage points, 48% to 46%, Rick Perry and Obama are tied at 47%, and Obama edges out Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann by two and four points, respectively.

These prospective election ballots -- measured Aug. 17-18, well over a year before the Nov. 6, 2012, election -- indicate that the race for president at this point is generally competitive, with voters fairly evenly divided in their preference for giving Obama a second term or electing a Republican candidate. Even though the four Republican candidates tested have varying degrees of name recognition, they all fare roughly the same.

Gallup's generic presidential ballot -- measured six times this year -- shows a close race between Obama and a generic "Republican presidential candidate," although there have been survey-to-survey variations on this measure, with the Republican candidate leading in June and July.

President Obama's job approval rating is hovering around the 40% mark. This is below the rating that any of the six incumbent presidents re-elected since Eisenhower has had at the time of the presidential election. However, in August of the year before they were re-elected, Ronald Reagan (43%) and Bill Clinton (46%) were both below 50%. Obama's position of rough parity against leading GOP candidates shows that more Americans at the moment say they would vote for Obama than approve of the job he is doing -- perhaps a reflection of the continuing lack of a strong front-runner on the Republican side.

This buttresses the "electability" argument for Bachmann, Perry, and Paul while giving Romney something to crow about as well - he being the only Republican beating Obama at this point.

Obviously, it's way too early to draw any lasting conclusions except that Obama is vulnerable and has a difficult path to re-election.