The Newt Gingrich surge has moved him to the top of the polls in Iowa, big gains in New Hampshire and now a two-point edge over President Obama in a hypothetical general election match-up.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Voters finds Gingrich attracting 45% of the vote while President Obama earns support from 43%. Six percent (6%) prefer some other candidate, and six percent (6%) are undecided.
Last week, Gingrich trailed the president by six. Two weeks ago, he was down by twelve. Earlier in the year, both Rick Perry and Herman Cain followed a similar path to take a slight lead over the president. However, in both cases, their time as frontrunners quickly came to an end. Neither man led the president more than a single time in a Rasmussen Reports poll. It remains to be seen whether Gingrich follows that path or is able to retain his status as the leading alternative to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
Romney is the only GOP candidate who has been ahead of the president more than a single time. For most of the year, he and President Obama were essentially even. Currently, Romney trails Obama by six. While the president typically leads named Republicans, a generic Republican candidate consistently leads the president.
Romney leads in New Hampshire with 34% of the vote. Gingrich is in second, ten points back.
In Iowa, Gingrich is on top with Romney in second.
In both states, more than 70% of GOP caucus or primary voters see Romney and Gingrich as qualified to be president. No other candidate comes close.
Sixty-seven percent (67%) of Republican voters nationwide have a favorable opinion of Romney and 65% say the same of Gingrich.
Gingrich currently attracts 79% of the Republican vote in a match-up against Obama. The former House Speaker also leads by 18 points among unaffiliated voters. The president is supported by 90% of Democrats.
Regardless of who wins the nomination, federal spending and debt will be important issues in the campaign. Voters overwhelmingly cite the economy as the top voting issue and believe that reducing government spending will help the economy. However, 81% of voters now say they don’t expect any significant spending cuts to be made before Election 2012.