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CARBONDALE - President Barack Obama would win his home state of Illinois against any one of the top four Republican challengers for the office if elections were held today, according to a new poll from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at SIU Carbondale.

But the victory isn't a landslide, as the results of the institute's recent statewide poll show Obama's job approval ratings are weak - and Gov. Pat Quinn's are worse.

In a series of hypothetical matchups, results show Obama defeating every one of the four Republicans the institute asked about, including Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Rick Perry and Ron Paul.

Obama did best against Perry, with 50.8 percent of respondents reelecting the president and 32.8 percent choosing the Texas governor.

Obama did the worst again Romney, with 46.1 percent to 38.5. Against Cain, the former chief executive officer of Godfather's Pizza, the percentage was 46.3 percent for Obama against 34 percent for Cain.

Finally against Ron Paul, Obama had a showing of 49.3 percent against 30.3 percent.

The poll is the fourth annual state survey taken by the institute. It surveyed by phone 1,000 registered Illinois voters from Oct. 11 through Oct. 16 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

"You could look at this as being uncomfortably close for the president in his home state," institute director David Yepsen said. "On the other hand you could say Obama is holding up fairly well in Illinois, given the difficult year he has had politically and the continued poor performance of the economy."

The poll also questioned a smaller subset of respondents, who said they do plan to vote in the Republican primary in March, and found both Cain and Romney in a statistical tie as the nominee, with 23.4 percent and 20.6 percent respectively.

None of the other Republican candidates generated double-digit favorable responses in the poll, including Newt Gingrich at 7.5 percent; Perry at 7.2 percent; Paul at 6.6 percent; Michele Bachman at 3.8 percent; Jon Huntsman at 2.5 percent and Rick Santorum at 2.2 percent.

Charlie Leonard, an institute visiting professor, said their poll largely reflects the current national trend on the Republican candidates but added the data must be interpreted carefully because of the small sample size of Republican voters questioned and the large field of candidates seeking the nomination for the presidency.

Meanwhile, barely half of Illinoisans approve of the job Obama is doing in office, and they think even less of the performance of Gov. Quinn. The poll shows 51.8 percent of respondents think Obama is doing a good job, while 46.4 percent disapprove. Institute officials add, however, their results show a 10-point higher favorable rating for the president than the latest national Gallup Poll.

Only 35.5 percent of the Simon poll respondents said they like the job Quinn is doing; 56.4 percent said they disapprove.


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