President Barack Obama’s approval rating has plunged below 50 percent and he would be beaten by Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney if November’s US election were held today, a poll showed Monday.

The survey, by ABC News and The Washington Post, indicated that only 46 percent of Americans now approved of the way Obama is handling his job and 50 percent disapproved as he took a hit from rising gas prices.

The situation was a reversal from early February when 50 percent approved of the president’s performance and 46 percent disapproved.

The survey was released as the battleground for the Republican presidential nomination moved to the deep South for Tuesday’s primaries in Alabama and Mississippi.

If the presidential election were held today, the poll found that Romney would beat Obama 49 percent to 47 percent.

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