Washington (CNN) - A majority of independent voters said they would vote for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney or lean toward Romney in a hypothetical 2012 matchup against President Barack Obama, a new poll says.
Fully 54% of independent voters surveyed by the Pew Research Center said they would support Romney, while fewer, 41%, said they would choose the president.
In a contest between Obama and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, another GOP front-runner in the presidential race, the voter divide is more evenly split. The poll showed that 48% favored Perry, and 45% favored Obama, a margin that falls within the sampling error.
Among all registered voters, not just independents, Obama and Romney are tied at 48%. In an Obama-Perry matchup, Perry trails Obama by four percentage points.
The survey reflects similar results from a CNN/ORC International Poll released last week, showing Obama and Romney virtually tied among registered voters, whereas Obama polled higher than Perry by five percentage points.
The Pew survey also revealed Obama as the driving force in voter motivation for 2012. In other words, most Romney and Perry supporters said their vote is a vote against the president, rather than a vote for their preferred Republican candidate.
Conversely, most Obama supporters said their vote is a vote for the president.
The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press surveyed 2,410 adults by telephone between Sept. 22-Oct. 4 with a sampling error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.
The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International from September 23-25, with 1,010 adult Americans, including 447 Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.
– CNN's Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.