Mitt Romney stands the best chance among Republican presidential contenders of beating President Barack Obama in next year’s election, according to a new Harris Interactive poll released Tuesday.
The former Massachusetts governor also was the favored GOP candidate among independent voters, with Texas Rep. Ron Paul following close behind, according to the online survey of 2,462 adults taken in mid-September.
The news was also good for Paul when pitted against Obama in a head-to-head matchup.
While survey participants gave Romney a 53 percent to 47 percent edge over Obama in a general election race, they said Paul could also beat Obama by 51 percent to 49 percent.
When matched up against other Republican candidates however, Obama beats them all, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry by 51 percent to 49 percent.
The poll did give Perry the edge over his GOP challengers in the fight for the nomination, although the Harris analysts were quick to point out that the lead would likely change at the primary race continues.
According to the survey, 22 percent of participants said they would vote for Perry over Romney, who garnered an 18 percent share of support.
The nearest challengers — Paul, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann — pulled in only a 7 percent share of support from survey participants.
Among other poll findings:
• While Romney leads among independents at 15 percent, and Paul and Perry follow behind at 12 percent and 11 percent respectively, 43 percent of those who identified themselves as independents said they were still undecided about who they plan to vote for in the GOP primary race.
• Among those who identified themselves as conservatives, 35 percent said they were still unsure about which candidate they plan to vote for. But one in five, or just over 21 percent, said they would likely vote for Perry compared to Romney, who polled at 14 percent among conservatives.
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