Two years into his presidency, Americans remained largely split on whether President Barack Obama deserved a second term in office, according to a poll published Tuesday morning.
The survey, by CNN and the Opinion Research Corporation, found that 51 percent of Americans (PDF) believed Obama would not win a second term, while 47 percent said that he likely would.
The results were largely the same as a similar poll published nearly one year ago, where CNN found that 52 percent felt Obama did not deserve a second term.
Both figures seemed closely moored to the president's approval ratings, which CNN gauged as 51 percent at the end of Jan. 2010 and Gallup placed at 46 percent at the start of Feb. 2011.
Among the list of likely Republican contenders, most of whom were working as paid contributors to the conservative-leaning Fox News Channel, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee came out on top with 21 percent of the respondents saying they would support him over the others.
Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin took second in the poll, at 19 percent, followed by other familiar names: former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney at 19 percent, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 10 percent and Texas Congressman Ron Paul at 7 percent.
Paul, whose son won last year a seat in the US Senate, said recently that he was considering a run for the same chamber, now that Texas Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison has announced her retirement. More recently, however, Paul's spokesman Jesse Benton told Fox News the popular Texas iconoclast may seek the presidency once again.
Palin, who for months was seen as the nation's most popular Republican, has seen a decline in fortunes since a mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona targeted Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ). Giffords was one of 20 Democrats on Palin's so-called "target list," which depicted congressional districts with gun sights over them.
Amid heavy criticism for her frequent use of violent rhetoric and gun imagery in her public comments, Palin saw the worst poll numbers of her career, with an approval rating of just 38 percent.
And even though Palin, largely seen as the queen of tea party activists, may not be the most popular Republican anymore, she still poses a significant threat to the ticket if she isn't picked as the nominee. A recent poll from the conservative-leaning Rasmussen Reports found that as many as half of Palin's supporters may flee the GOP if she doesn't take the nod.
Recent presidential race poll numbers have swung wildly for Palin. In a Washington Post poll taken earlier this month, Palin ranked in second place with 19 percent support among likely GOP primary voters, behind only Huckabee at 21 percent. But another poll released around the same time had Palin at 10 percent, with Romney in the lead at 28 percent and Huckabee in second at 15 percent.
In another recent poll by Gallup, respondents pinpointed President Obama as the most polarizing figure in US politics in decades. While he enjoyed an average of 81 percent approval from Democrats, only 13 percent of Republicans shared that view, leaving a 68 point approval gap between the two parties.
Overall, Obama's first and second years in office both ranked in the top ten most polarizing years of any recent president. His second year was ranked fourth, while his first year was ranked sixth. No president in the last 50 years, since President Dwight Eisenhower, had a more polarizing second year than Obama.
With prior reporting by Daniel Tencer and David Edwards.