The poll did not test several other prominent Republicans who are considering a bid for the party's presidential nomination. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee - who has consistently polled well against Obama - was not tested, nor were Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX).
The poll also asked:
If President Obama runs for re-election in the year 2012, do you think you will probably vote for President Obama or probably vote for the Republican candidate?
Forty-two percent of respondents said they would probably vote for Obama, while 39% said they would vote for the Republican candidate. That falls just within the poll's 3.1% margin of error.
That result is similar to one in a Penn Schoen Berland poll released this morning which found Obama trailing a generic GOP challenger by one point.
The NBC-Wall Street Journal poll of 1,000 nationwide was conducted December 9-13. It has a margin of error of 3.1%.