In a general-election trial heat in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll he runs evenly with Barack Obama among all Americans, and numerically outpoints him, 49-46 percent, among registered voters — not a statistically significant lead, given sampling error, but a clear reflection of Obama’s vulnerability to a well-positioned challenger. – Poll: Romney, Palin See Boost; Obama Vulnerable

I’ve been offline due to an Cox Communications outage, so let’s get crackin’…

Mitt Romney is poised to take advantage of bad economic news with Pres. Obama fighting to renew his brand at a time when “hope and change” both ring hollow. There’s little hope out there economically and whatever “change” candidate Obama offered didn’t match what was needed, as voters see it today.

More from the ABC poll:

Romney is at 22%, with Palin at 17%, but we all know that if you turn Romney on the general populace his chances are a lot better than hers.

Romney, though, is the only Republican to run that well; Obama leads all other potential opponents tested in this poll — Palin, Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, Michele Bachmann and Jon Huntsman. Palin fares worst, trailing Obama by 17 points among all adults, 15 points among registered voters.

Indeed, despite advancing in GOP primary preference, Palin faces daunting challenges. Sixty-four percent of Americans say they definitely will not vote for her for president, a new high. Sixty-three percent describe her as unqualified for the job, below its peak but still a substantial majority. Even in her own party, among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, 41 percent rule out voting for her and 39 percent see her as unqualified.

Sarah Palin remains unelectable, though her fans are still hoping she can turn it around.

That won’t happen with things like her Fox News channel performance this past Sunday on her Paul Revere gaffe. Palin’s humility index is non-existent.

Meanwhile, her fans on Twitter keep tweeting me to apologize because I found her Revere story word salad silly. I hope they’re not holding their breath.

As one Dem insider told me several months ago, Barack Obama’s never run against a “competent” Republican. With Romney side-stepping Ryan’s Medicare scheme debacle, while standing up to say climate change is real, he’s showing maturity going into 2012 that was non-existent in ’08.

It’s a long way out, but for Republicans who usually reward front-runners and the last runner-up, Romney’s in a very good place right now.

Among Independents in the new poll, 57% disapprove of Obama’s job performance.