Economy Hikes Obama Poll Numbers Prez now ahead of all four GOP contenders By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff Posted Feb 14, 2012 11:57 PM CST Updated Feb 15, 2012 3:00 AM CST 86 comments Comments President Barack Obama speaks about the "Community College to Career Fund" and his 2013 budget earlier this week. His poll numbers are up. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) (Newser) – The rising economy may be enough to carry President Obama to a second term, according to the latest New York Times/CBS poll. The percentage of people feeling optimistic about the economy has surged over the last few months, the poll found, and Obama's approval rating is back above 50%, the highest since May 2010 apart from a brief bump after the killing of Osama bin Laden last year. Obama now leads all four of his potential Republican opponents, the poll found. Obama was tied with Mitt Romney last month, but now leads 48% to 42%, thanks to a big shift among independent voters, according to the survey. He leads Rick Santorum 49% to 41%, Ron Paul 50% to 39%, and has a whopping 18-point lead over Newt Gingrich, 54% to 36%. GOP front-runner Santorum has a narrow lead over Romney among GOP primary voters. Some 55% consider Romney the most electable candidate, but only 23% consider the former Massachusetts governor the candidate who best represents their values.