President Barack Obama has a wide lead over potential Republican rivals for the presidential election in 2012, but faces serious doubts about his handling of the U.S. economy, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found yesterday.

The survey offered a boost for the president after the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Now, 45 percent of Americans believe he will win re-election, a 10-point rise from a poll taken before November’s congressional elections.

The survey is an indication of how difficult it will be for Republicans to dislodge an incumbent president in the 2012 election.

Ipsos pollster Julia Clark said the Republican results are likely to improve as the field takes shape and Americans begin hearing more about Obama’s challengers.

“Most people don't know much about any of these people, and plus there is always an advantage for the incumbent,” she said.

The field of possible Republicans challengers to Obama has not generated much enthusiasm so far, with several waiting to announce their candidacy.

The president’s approval rating is at 49 percent, a 3-point increase over last month, amounting to only a modest bounce after the death of bin Laden. Other surveys have given him a slightly larger post-bin Laden boost.