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(Bumper sticker spotted in Chesapeake Beach, Md.

COLBERT’S THREAT

Horse-race e-polls typically put President Obama and White House hopeful Mitt Romney neck and neck. But along comes a new Public Policy Poll of 700 U.S. voters conducted Jan. 13-16 that finds Mr. Obama leading his GOP rival 49 percent to 44 percent. The pollster credits the president’s rising numbers among independents for the gain.

But the same poll also has bad news for the Obama campaign. An unorthodox third party bid might jeopardize his lead, and it comes from an unlikely source. Comedy Central’s fake newsman Stephen Colbert — who launched his own cheeky presidential campaign then promptly outpolled Jon Huntsman Jr. — could actually woo rogue Democrats away from the Obama camp.

“We find Colbert getting 13 percent in a hypothetical third party run for president, compared to 41 percent for Obama and 38 percent for Romney,” explains Dean Debnam, president of the polling group. “A Colbert bid could be a blessing in disguise for the GOP. His voters go for Obama over Romney 52-38 in a straight head to head, so his presence as a potential candidate works to the Republicans’ advantage.”

“OTTACK2012.Com”

(New Republican NationaCommitteeee website launched Tuesday to parse President Obama’s record)

POLL DU JOUR

• 72 percent of Republican voters think Mitt Romney will win the GOP nomination for president.

• 65 percent of Republicans are “certain” they will vote in the GOP primary in their state.

• 61 percent of Republicans are satisfied with the choice of candidates for the GOP nomination.

• 60 percent say there’s a chance they could change their mind on their preferred candidate and vote for someone else.

• 36 percent say they’ve already made a definite choice on their candidate.

• 35 percent would currently vote for Mr. Romney, 17 percent for Newt Gingrich, 16 percent for Ron Paul, 13 percent for Rick Santorum and 9 percent for Rick Perry.

• 26 percent say Mr. Romney best reflects the values of the Republican Party; 25 percent cite Mr. Gingrich.

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