(WOIO) - Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is top dog in the Ohio Republican presidential pack with 24 percent of GOP voters, while Texas Gov. Rick Perry is nipping at his heels with 20 percent, and no other candidate over 9 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Minnesota U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann runs eighth with 3 percent of the vote.
But Perry tops Romney 42 – 38 percent in a head-to-head matchup among Republicans, the independent Quinnipiac University poll finds.
Among all contenders, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin gets 9 percent, followed by businessman Herman Cain at 7 percent, Texas U.S. Rep. Ron Paul at 6 percent and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 4 percent each.
If Palin decides not to run, Romney gets 25 percent to Perry's 21 percent.
In 2012 general election matchups:
· President Barack Obama gets 44 percent to Perry's 41 percent, too close to call;
· President Obama gets 44 percent to Romney's 42 percent, also too close to call.
Ohio voters disapprove 53 – 42 percent of the job Obama is doing, matching his lowest overall approval, and say 51 – 43 percent that the president does not deserve to be reelected.
"The Republican presidential race in Ohio at this point is shifting back and forth between former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
"Perry's strength is among two large constituencies within the Republican coalition. In a two-man race, Perry defeats Romney 57 – 30 percent among Republicans who consider themselves part of the Tea Party movement. He leads Romney 48 – 33 percent among Republicans who are white, evangelical Christians."
"President Barack Obama's standing among all Ohio voters is back to its lowest ever," said Brown. "They give him a 53 – 42 percent disapproval rating on his job performance, and say by 51 – 43 percent say he does not deserve another term in the Oval Office. But when he is matched against Perry and Romney, those races are statistical ties."
There is a gender gap in the general election matchups:
· Men back Perry over Obama 45 – 41 percent, while women go Democratic 46 – 37 percent;
· Men back Romney over Obama 47 – 41 percent, as women back the president 46 – 38 percent.
Among independent voters, a key voting group, Obama gets 38 percent to Perry's 35 percent. He splits these voters 39 – 39 percent with Romney.
Independent voters disapprove 56 – 38 percent of Obama's job performance, as do Republicans 91 – 7 percent. Democrats approve 77 – 19 percent. Men disapprove 58 – 39 percent, while women disapprove by a narrow 49 – 45 percent.
In a July 21 Quinnipiac University survey of Ohio voters, Obama's disapproval was 50 – 46 percent and voters split 46 – 47 percent on whether he deserves four more years.
In Ohio's U.S. Senate race, State Treasurer Josh Mandel leads State Sen. Kevin Coughlin 33 – 12 percent in the battle for the Republican nomination, but both men trail by double digits against Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown.
Brown tops Coughlin 53 – 32 percent and leads Mandel 49 – 36 percent.
Ohio voters approve of the job Brown is doing 52 – 31 percent and say 50 – 34 percent they feel that he deserves another term in office.
Ohio voters say 64 – 29 percent that Perry's description of Social Security as a "Ponzi scheme" is unfair, although Republicans are split 44 – 45 percent.