ABC News-Washington Post Poll: Romney, Obama in dead heat for 2012

Republican candidates vying for President Obama's job are on the road today.

But, according to a new poll, one in particular could pose the toughest challenge to the president in 2012.

Last week, Mitt Romney launched his presidential campaign with a simple message: "Barack Obama has failed America."

Those five words may be resonating with American voters, according to a new ABC News-Washington Post poll.

The poll shows Romney in a dead heat with President Obama among all Americans. Looking at just registered voters, Romney has a slight lead.

But the biggest challenge for Obama may not be a Republican, but rather the economy.

In the poll, 89 percent say the economy is in bad shape; 59 percent, a new high, disapprove of Obama's handling of the economy; 66 percent consider the country "seriously on the wrong track"; and 25 percent are flat out angry about the way the federal government is operating.

The last time Americans were so frustrated with the federal government? 1992. When Democrats were able to oust the incumbent Republican president.

That year, Democrats reduced the choice between President George H. W. Bush and Governor Bill Clinton to a slogan coined by James Carville, a Clinton strategist: "It's the economy, stupid."

Will history repeat itself in 2012?

The nation added just 54,000 jobs last month, far fewer than expected. The challenge for the White House will be boosting Americans' confidence, while also acknowledging their frustrations.

"I think when he talks about the positive news, it makes people angry," Carville says now.

There is one silver lining for President Obama. The ABC poll shows him ahead of all the other potential Republican contenders.

And there's clear evidence that a Sarah Palin nomination would be a disaster for Republicans.

Obama's biggest margin comes in a head-to-head matchup against the former Republican vice presidential nominee.

He leads Palin by 17 points.