The latest presidential poll in Arizona shows Mitt Romney and Herman Cain in a dead heat for the Republican nomination.
But in a head-to-head contest, both candidates lagged behind President Barack Obama, a surprise given Arizona’s conservative leanings.
“Obama seems to be doing OK,” said pollster Earl de Berge.
In the poll, Democrats are breaking for Obama in pretty much the same way that Republicans are going for either Cain or Romney in a theoretical match up against the president.
“But the real story here I think is that independent voters are pretty strongly leaning towards Obama, and if he can hang on to his large base of 72-to-better percent of Democrats and pick up half of independents, he’s going to be in a pretty strong position come election day,” de Berge said.
The poll showed half of independents support Obama in a head-to-head contest against either Romney or Cain.
In those theoretical matchups, Cain fared slightly better than Romney among independents, but Romney did better among Republicans and Democrats than Cain.
Among all voters, Obama got 45 percent against Romney’s 40 percent. He also cornered 45 percent compared to Cain’s 38 percent.
Obama also holds his own in a theoretical matchup against Perry, 44 percent to 38 percent.
In a GOP primary, Romney and Cain each got 20 percent of respondents while Texas Congressman Ron Paul got 9 percent, Texas Gov. Rick Perry took in 7 percent and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann captured 6 percent, the poll showed.
The poll was conducted by the Phoenix-based Behavior Research Center between Oct. 13-24. It has a sample size of 581 registered voters. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 4.1 percent.
Of those surveyed, 219 were Republicans, 194 were Democrats and 168 were independents.
According to the GOP primary poll question, Romney and Cain virtually got the same level of support among Republicans and independents here in the state.
Paul, who came third, also showed strong support among independents.
The number of the undecided voters was 23 percent. Five percent of the respondents also said they support none of the Republican candidates included in the survey.
The other GOP presidential aspirants in the survey are Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum.