(Photo: Reuters/Eric Miller)
If Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul were to run as an independent or third-party candidate in the general election, he would take more votes away from President Barack Obama, a Democrat, than Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, a Rasmussen Reports poll suggests.
With Paul in the race, Romney would win with 44 percent of the vote, followed by Obama with 39 percent and Paul with 13 percent, if the election were this week, according to the May 6-7 poll of 1,000 likely voters. The margin of error is plus or minus three percentage points.
Rasmussen Reports' most recent daily tracking poll of the presidential race has Romney at 49 percent and Obama at 44 percent in a two person race.
A Paul candidacy would hurt Obama most among independents, the poll suggests. Paul would only gain the votes of five percent of Democrats, but would win 23 percent of independents. Only 31 percent of the remaining independents would go to Obama and Romney would win 37 percent of the independent vote.
Eleven percent of Republicans in the poll said they would support Paul in a three-way match up.
In a two-person race with Paul as the Republican nominee, Paul would be tied with Obama at 42 percent.
Paul has a 48 percent favorability rating overall. Fifty-seven percent of Republicans and 60 percent of independents view him favorably, while 60 percent of Democrats view him unfavorably.
Paul's positions, sometimes described as libertarian, differ from Romney and Obama on a variety of positions. On domestic policy, he would go further than Romney in cutting taxes and federal spending. On foreign policy, he would go further than Obama in withdrawing troops stationed overseas, including those in Afghanistan.
Even though Romney is now the presumptive nominee, Paul has not dropped out of the race and continues to pick up delegates. He has said that he is not interested in running as a third-party or independent candidate.