As the Republican presidential primary drags on, President Barack Obama is only getting more popular, a new poll released Wednesday night (PDF) found. Worse still for Republicans, the poll also indicates that a large majority still blame former President George W. Bush for poor economic conditions.

Overall, the president's chief political rivals, former Masssachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (R), are driving up their unfavorable ratings among all groups amid the Republican primary slog.

That trend led pollsters at CNN to declare that if the presidential election were held today, Obama would win hands down. He topped Romney by an 11 percent margin, 54 percent to 43 percent, and bested Santorum by a 13 percent margin, 55 percent to 42 percent.

Among the crucial independent demographic, CNN found Obama on top as well, with significant declines in support for Romney and Santorum. Only 35 percent of independents held a favorable view of Romney, and that number improved only two percent with other groups mixed in. Santorum, as well, faces a growing unfavorable rating, with 42 percent overall holding a negative view of him.

President Obama, meanwhile, is seeing his personal popularity ratings on an upward trend: 56 percent of the public view him favorably, CNN found, compared to 42 percent with a negative opinion.

Democrats, as well, are enjoying a surge in voter affection, with 48 percent registering positive feelings toward the party as a whole, versus just 35 percent who view Republicans favorably.

And while just 31 percent say that the economy is good, that number is up 13 percent from January. An additional 56 percent of Americans still blame former President Bush and the Republican Party for the country's economic state, whereas just 29 percent blame Democrats.

President Obama's job approval rating, meanwhile, has risen to 51 percent, up from 47 percent in January.

The video below is from CNN, broadcast Wednesday, March 28, 2012.

Photo: Emmanuel Dunand, AFP.