The Washington Times - August 22, 2011, 04:16PM

A new Gallup poll shows President Obama would face a tight race against four Republican presidential contenders, with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney beating him by two percentage points if the election were held today.

Forty-six percent of registered voters support Mr. Obama compared with 48 percent for the GOP front-runner, while the president would be in a dead heat against longtime Texas Gov. Rick Perry, tying the recent entrant with 47 percent, Gallup found.

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Even libertarian Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and tea party favorite Rep. Michelle Bachmann, seen as long-shot candidates to take the nomination, are running neck and neck with the president in the new Gallup survey. Mr. Obama would edge out Mr. Paul 47 percent to 45 percent, according to the survey, and has just a four-point lead over Mrs. Bachmann at 48 percent to 44 percent.

As Gallup notes, history shows Mr. Obama’s critics would be wise not to overestimate the importance of the results, however.

In August 1995, Republican Sen. Bob Dole was polling two points ahead President Bill Clinton but later lost to the Democrat by eight points. Likewise, former President Ronald Reagan was only leading Democrat Walter Mondale by one point in an August 1983 poll; he ended up winning re-election in a landslide by 18 points the following November.

Still, Mr. Obama’s job-approval rating could be a worrying sign if it doesn’t inch up. Currently around 40 percent, it’s lower than that of any of the six most recent incumbents who won a second term had at the time of their re-election, according to Gallup.