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Sarah Palin now just 5 points behind Obama in new poll

Tea Party supporters walk past a sign of Sarah Palin during the Tea Party of America's "Restoring America" event at the Indianola Balloon Festival Grounds September 3, 2011 in Indianola, Iowa. Scott Olson/Getty Images

Sarah Palin has not officially declared whether she will jump in the race for president. A new poll may give her one more reason to take the plunge. She is just five points behind President Obama in the survey released Tuesday by Marist College and McClatchy Newspapers.

The Fox News analyst garnered 44 percent in the poll, compared to Mr. Obama's 49 percent.

That's a sharp increase for Palin, who had been consistently running about 20 points behind Mr. Obama. A key reason for her gain is stronger support among independents, who favor the one-time vice presidential nominee to the sitting president, the newspaper said.

Mr. Obama's approval rating fell to 39 percent, the lowest level of his presidency, and his disapproval rating rose to 52 percent. That is the first time a majority of registered voters said they disapprove of Mr. Obama.

"Although numbers like these typically spell doom for an incumbent's re-election prospects, the Republicans in Congress and eventually his GOP opponent could still provide Obama with running room," said Lee M. Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.

Three out of four voters think the United States is in the midst of an economic recession, while 22 percent think the economy is not in a recession and 3 percent are not sure.

The telephone poll was conducted September 13-14 among 1,042 randomly selected adults, including 825 registered voters, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. The registered voters subset has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.