As Republican candidates continue to vie for the presidential nomination, President Barack Obama's approval rating has risen significantly from late last year, according to a new national survey.
Obama's approval rating is now 53 percent, an increase of 9 percentage points since November, according to a Politico/George Washington University Battleground Poll released Monday.
In a hypothetical general election matchup, the poll found Obama outscoring former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney 53 percent to 43 percent and the president leading Sen. Rick Santorum 53 percent to 42 percent.
Additionally, about a third of Americans feel the country is headed in the right direction - which is low for a president eight months before an election, although the figure has doubled since November.
Among Republicans only, Santorum narrowly edges out Romney, 36 percent to 34 percent as the first choice candidate. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is in third with 13 percent, and Texas congressman Ron Paul has 7 percent.
About 40 percent say that Romney has run the most negative campaign, followed by Gingrich at 33 percent and Santorum and Paul each at 4 percent, according to the poll.
However, the poll found that 56 percent of those surveyed believe Romney to be the most electable candidate with Santorum at 28 percent.
The Politico/George Washington University Battleground Poll was conducted between Feb. 19 and Feb. 22 with 1,000 people by telephone interviews.
by RTT Staff Writer
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