Romney leading Paul, Gingrich in poll |

Romney leading Paul, Gingrich in poll

LAS VEGAS (AP) – President Barack Obama would once again win Nevada if the general election had been held this week, but Republican Mitt Romney has the best chance of making him a one-term president, according to a poll released Thursday.

Less than a year before the November election, Obama had 46 percent support compared with 40 percent for Romney, according to the poll commissioned by the Las Vegas Review-Journal and KLAS-TV. The remaining voters said they didn’t like either candidate or were undecided.

The telephone poll of 600 registered Nevada voters was conducted by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ Cannon Survey Center from Dec. 12 through Tuesday. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Romney was the only Republican beating Obama among independents, and the president remained strong among Democrats. More than 78 percent of Democrats would give Obama their vote, according to the poll. Romney was backed by 73 percent of Republicans surveyed. About 20 percent of Nevada voters aren’t aligned with either major political party.

The results suggest Nevada will remain a key battleground state in 2012. Nevada Democrats have a 60,000 voter registration edge over Republicans.

“Gov. Romney has spent a lot of time in Nevada and he understands Nevada issues,” Ryan Erwin, Romney’s Nevada adviser, told the Review-Journal. “The closer we get to the election, the more you’re going to find people gravitating toward Mitt Romney.”

Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, won Nevada’s GOP caucuses in 2008, but Obama went on to win Nevada over John McCain that year with help from independents and Hispanic voters.

In a potential match between Obama and Texas U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, Obama triumphed with 45 percent compared with Paul’s 36 percent support. Paul placed second in the GOP caucuses in 2008.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich would lose to Obama by 12 points, while the rest of the GOP presidential field would lose by significant margins, according to the poll.

Nevada has the nation’s highest jobless rate at 13 percent and record home foreclosures.

The Obama campaign said the survey shows Nevadans are rejecting GOP ideology.

Among registered Republicans, Romney was also the favorite to win Nevada’s Feb. 4 GOP caucuses with 33 percent support. Gingrich had 29 percent support and Paul was at 13 percent support. Gingrich has since fallen out of favor in national polls.

“If Romney does very poorly in South Carolina and Florida and Gingrich does well, it could put some air under Gingrich’s wings in Nevada,” said former Nevada Gov. Bob List.