According to the latest Gallup poll there is no clear Republican choice for the 2012 nomination among primary voters. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee leads the hypothetical pack of contenders with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney close on his heels. However, both of their numbers are low, only 19% and 15% respectively meaning the field is essentially wide open for a candidate who connects strongly with voters.
Report from USA Today:
The poll shows 19% of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents favor former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee at this stage of the nominating contest, giving him a slight edge less than a year before voters in Iowa and New Hampshire kick off the 2012 race.
Huckabee is followed by ex-Massachussetts governor Mitt Romney with 15%. Sarah Palin, the party’s 2008 vice presidential nominee, was backed by 12%, and former House speaker Newt Gingrich was the choice of 10%.
Huckabee, Romney, Palin and Gingrich have finished in that order in four of Gallup’s GOP presidential surveys since last September.
The race for the GOP presidential nomination has gotten off to a slower start than in previous presidential election cycles. John McCain, the party’s eventual 2008 nominee, officially launched his presidential bid shortly after the 2006 midterm elections.
Ex-Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty is the only major GOP candidate who has filed the papers to form an exploratory committee. (Former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer and pizza executive Herman Cain have formed exploratory committees, but neither registered support in Gallup’s latest presidential survey.)
Nine Republicans were in the single digits in the new poll. Texas Rep. Ron Paul was favored by 6% at the top of this group, and real estate mogul Donald Trump was at the end with 1%. Sixteen percent say they have no opinion on the race for the GOP nomination.
I don’t see a rush to jump in at this point. President Obama has given these candidates enough political ammunition to fight him with already. Their decision to enter the race sooner than later more has to do with whether they need to build name recognition in the early states before some of the bigger names take the plunge.
From this poll, however, it seems that Huckabee might benefit most should Sarah Palin choose not to run. He clearly has the strongest evangelical support and any evangelical support Palin has will surely slip to Huckabee over Gingrich or Romney.