Barack Obama is a leading driver of voter preferences in possible 2012 matchups, among both his supporters and opponents. Currently, Obama is running a close race in hypothetical matchups against Mitt Romney and Rick Perry. Against both GOP candidates, most of Obama's supporters view their vote as a vote for the president, while most of those who plan to vote for Romney or Perry see their vote as a vote against Obama.
Given a choice between Obama and Romney, 48% of registered voters say they would vote for Romney or lean toward Romney, while an identical percentage supports Obama or leans toward Obama. Most Obama supporters - 33% of all voters - say they consider their vote as a vote for the president, rather than as a vote against Romney. Conversely, far more Romney supporters say they view their vote as a vote against Obama rather than a vote for Romney. The pattern is similar in a possible Obama-Perry matchup.
In the race for the Republican Party's presidential nomination, Romney continues to hold a slim lead with the backing of 22% of Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters. But three other candidates are in double digits - Perry at 17%, Herman Cain at 13%, and Ron Paul at 12%. Among the most attentive Republican voters - those who have given "a lot of thought" to the election - the current race is virtually a dead heat between Romney (23%), Perry (19%) and Cain (20%).
Read the full report, Obama Motivates Supporters, Opponents in Early 2012 Matchups, on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press' Web site.