01/19/2012 05:39 EST | Updated 03/20/2012 05:12 EDT

Canadians have rosier impression of Obama, Romney than Americans: poll

OTTAWA - If it was up to Canadians, a new poll suggests, Mitt Romney would be the undisputed favourite to face off against Barack Obama in this year's U.S. presidential election.

But there's little doubt Canadians would ultimately re-elect Obama.

The Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey suggests Canadians have lost some of their initial ardour for Obama but the love affair continues.

Fully 59 per cent — including a majority in all regions and across demographic groups — think Obama will be re-elected in November.

Forty-two per cent feel he's performed better than expected as president, while only 29 per cent feel he's done worse than expected.

As for who should be Obama's Republican challenger, Mitt Romney is seen as the best candidate by 25 per cent — far ahead of his rivals for the Republican nomination, none of whom scored better than seven per cent.

Fifty-six per cent, however, had no opinion on who would be the best Republican presidential nominee.

The telephone survey of just over 1,000 Canadians was conducted Jan. 12-15 and is considered accurate to within plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times in 20.

The poll suggests Canadians have a more positive view of both Obama and Romney than Americans.

Recent polls in the United States indicate Americans are evenly split — roughly 45-45 per cent — over Obama's job performance. The Pew Research Centre says his job approval rating is lower than most of his recent predecessors as they headed into a re-election year.

Gallup, which has tested Obama's support levels against various possible Republican nominees, has said the president is no shoo-in for re-election. Indeed, Gallup polls suggest the Democrat president would be statistically tied with either Romney or Newt Gingrich, who seems to be emerging as his principal rival for the Republican nod.

Romney is struggling to establish himself as the clear front-runner in the Republican contest. At different times, various rival contenders have topped him in the polls as right wing Republicans cast about for an alternative to the former Massachusetts governor, whom they regard as too moderate.

While Canadians have a far rosier impression of Obama than Americans, they're no longer as blindly in love as they were at the time of his inauguration three years ago, when as much as 81 per cent approved of his performance.