The Washington Times - July 19, 2012, 12:20PM

A new CBS/New York Times poll gives presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney a two-point edge over President Obama, the first time Mr. Romney has led in the survey since early January.

Mr. Romney has taken the lead in the poll despite a torrent of negative advertising in recent months from the Obama campaign aimed at defining the former Massachusetts governor as out of touch with the middle class and a protector of wealthy interests.

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As unemployment numbers have remained static at more than 8 percent and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke publicly wondering whether the labor market is “stuck in the mud,” the poll also showed Mr. Obama’s approval rating dropping 4 percentage points since the last survey in April to 44 percent, a dangerously low number for an incumbent president.

Americans who approve his handling of the economy also have declined with 39 percent now saying they approve and 55 percent who disapprove. In April, 44 percent approved of Mr. Obama’s handling of the economy and 48 percent disapproved.