They might have reservations about the Republican candidates, but the majority of Americans still want President Barack Obama out of office, according to a new poll conducted by the Associated Press and Gfk Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications. That’s a first in the poll’s Obama-tracking history.

Specifically, 52 percent of those polled said Obama should be voted out, while just 43 percent said he deserves to be reelected. That’s almost a perfect inversion of the numbers from last May, when 53 percent said he should be reelected and 43 percent said he should be ousted.

Not surprisingly, Obama’s approval ratings were also dismal, at 44 percent approval and 54 percent disapproval. But the president is still popular on a personal level, with a favorability rating of 53 percent and a likability rating of 76 percent.

Perhaps that’s why the president still leads potential Republican challengers Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich in hypothetical head-to-head match-ups. Obama barely bests Romney 47 percent to 46 percent, but trounces Gingrich 51 percent to 42 percent.

And in a stark reminder to debate moderators and the GOP candidates, who last night discussed the economy and job creation hardly at all, the poll shows that an overwhelming majority (90 percent) continue to say the economy is an issue that is very important to them. Similarly, 80 percent cite the unemployment rate as a particularly important issue. Other issues a majority considered highly important: Education (82 percent) and health care (76 percent). In general, folks still don’t think Obama is doing particularly well on the economic and jobs front, but they do trust him to keep the country safe.

The poll had a sample of 1,000 adults and the D/I/R breakdown was 27/33/25. Self-identified conservatives outnumbered self-identified liberals by more than 2:1.

For the most part, this poll confirms what most of us probably already suspected. If the economic situation and Obama’s approval ratings stay the same from now until November 2012 and the GOP loses, Republicans will have no one to blame but their own candidate. It’s a truth uncomfortably acknowledged that, when it comes to judged competitions — as elections most certainly are, it matters less that the judges are impressed with you than that they like you. In this case, if voters like Obama and dislike the GOP candidate, no matter what they think of Obama’s record, they’ll still be tempted to vote for him.

One bit of poll-related news that pleasantly surprised me: While Americans generally think the country is on the wrong track, a majority of us — 76 percent! — are still pretty dang happy. And most — 60 percent — describe the financial situations in their own homes as “good.” Those numbers could be better — but they’re also not bad. For this gal, who spends a majority of her days reading depressing news and fielding discontented comments, it was a welcome reminder that life in America is still a cheerful, prosperous proposition.