Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is the slight favorite of Republican voters as the best candidate the party could run for President in 2012. When all voters are asked that questions, Palin falls into a three-way tie with Mitt Romney and Bobby Jindal.
Those are among the findings of a Zogby Interactive poll of 24,964 voters conducted from Nov. 7-18. The margin of error for the entire sample is +/-0.6 percent.
Voters were offered the choices of Palin, former Massachusetts Gov. Romney, Louisiana Gov. Jindal, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. All but Palin and Jindal were candidates for the 2008 nomination. Voters also could choose someone else.
Palin led among Republicans with 24.4 percent of the vote, followed by Romney with 18 percent, and Jindal with 15.6 percent. Among all voter, all three were in a virtual dead head, each sharing between 13 and 12 percent of the sampling. Rounding out the field in single digits were Huckabee, Giuliani, and Paul.
Palin's strength is with all conservatives, conservative religious voters and gun owners. Among Republicans, she gets the support of 30 percent of Born-Again Christians, 32 percent of weekly churchgoers, 34 percent of National Rifle Association members, 28 percent of current gun owners and 29 percent of self-identified conservatives. More GOP support comes from 32 percent of blue collar workers, 30 percent who shop weekly at Wal-Mart, 28 percent of NASCAR fans and 25 percent of both those with children under 17 and those with family members in the military. She scores lower among GOP voters ages 18-29, with 15 percent.
Romney's Republican support level is very consistent across demographic groups. Among his party members, Romney's numbers fall off by a few points from his overall 18.1 percent with religious conservatives and gun owners. Surprisingly, Palin leads Romney among Republican investors, 24 percent to 20 percent.
There are no highs or lows among subgroups for Jindal among Republicans. He is a newcomer to national politics, and already has a reasonable base of GOP support.
Palin looks to be stealing Huckabee's thunder among Republican religious conservatives and working class voters. Huckabee is an ordained Southern Baptist minister, and his highest GOP totals still come from Born-Again Christians (15 percent) and weekly churchgoers (18 percent), but those numbers are about half of those drawn by Palin. Despite his populist economic message, he wins only 10 percent of blue collar Republicans.
The interesting finding about Paul is that he is more popular among all voters than he is among Republicans, reinforcing his appeal as a potential third party candidate.
Pollster John Zogby: "While someone other than those we listed could still emerge as Republican contender, GOP voters seem satisfied with this group. Only 8.2 percent would choose someone else. Despite all of the bad press and late night TV parody of Palin, she still leads the pack. So it is hard to see what could shake the faith of her supporters going forward. If she chooses to run, that solid base would likely keep her in the race through the early primaries. Both Romney and Jindal have appeal to Republicans, with Jindal having the advantage of being the new guy who could bring change to the party."
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