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Mitt Romney widens lead over Barack Obama in new poll

Mitt Romney continued today to court Republican primary voters with the claim that he is the most electable of the GOP candidates for president.

Now he has fresh ammunition to help him make that pitch.

A new Rasmussen Reports poll shows Romney beating President Barack Obama by the largest margin yet in a survey about a hypothetical 2012 presidential election race. The national telephone survey found 45 percent of likely U.S. voters backing Romney versus 39 percent for Obama.

But the Rasmussen Reports survey contained additional positive data for Romney. The poll showed 75 percent of those who identified themselves with the tea party movement supported Romney over Obama. Romney also had significant leads among "mainstream voters," 51-31, and independent voters, 45-29.

Romney had a 20-point lead among male voters, while Obama had a 6-point lead among women.

The poll was conducted Tuesday and Wednesday.

A Rasmussen Reports poll taken Monday showed Obama beating Newt Gingrich 47-37. A poll done Dec. 10-11 showed Obama beating Ron Paul 43-35.

Media coverage of Obama has been largely negative during the first part of the election, according to recent research by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, which may have impacted the president's low numbers.

Romney still has to win the Republican nomination to get a chance to take on the president.

A Gallup poll conducted Dec. 6-7 showed Obama ahead at 50 percent and Romney trailing at 48 percent.

One interesting factor in a Romney-Obama race could be the different demographics to which each party is focusing its attention. In a departure from campaigns past, the New York Times reports a shift in the Democratic Party's presidential race strategy. Opinion writer Thomas B. Edsall says Democrats now will follow a plan in "which whites without college degrees are effectively replaced by well-educated socially liberal whites in alliance with the growing ranks of less affluent minority voters, especially Hispanics."

Republican candidates continue to cater to the white middle class, their perennial voting sweetheart. The diverging attention of each party's attention may lead to further ambiguity heading into election year.