Rasmussen’s poll of likely voters now shows Rick Perry leading Barack Obama by 3 percentage points (44 to 41 percent). Mitt Romney is within 4 points of Obama (43 to 39 percent), Herman Cain is within 7 (42 to 35 percent), and Michele Bachmann is within 8 (46 to 38 percent). (No other Republican candidates were included in the poll.)

Versus Obama, Perry is doing better both among men (winning by 9 points) and among women (losing by 5 points) than the other GOP hopefuls — all of whom trail among women by double-digits. Among independents, Perry leads Obama by 9 points, Cain is tied with Obama, and Romney and Bachmann trail Obama by 5 and 6 points, respectively.

Rasmussen writes that this is “the first time this year” that Perry leads Obama “in a national Election 2012 survey.”

Interestingly, the poll also shows a generic Republican candidate leading Obama by 8 points (48 to 40 percent). The generic Republican leads among men (by 17 points), among women (by 1 point), and among independents (by 15 points).

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