Obama bolstered by Republican fight, economic gains

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama's re-election hopes in 2012 could be getting brighter as the bruising Republican nomination fight intensifies and the struggling U.S. economy shows signs of hope.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll on Wednesday found Obama dramatically expanding his advantage over Mitt Romney to 8 percentage points, up from a 1-point deficit in early November, and leading Republican front-runner Newt Gingrich by 13 points.
Obama's approval rating of 47 percent is little changed since the beginning of the year as the Republicans stumble, suggesting that the increasingly bitter fight for the right to challenge him in November could be taking its toll on his potential rivals.
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