A new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll indicates that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin head the pack of potential 2012 Republican presidential hopefuls.
Thirty-four percent of Republicans and independents who are leaning toward the GOP said they are very likely to support Huckabee as the GOP nominee in 2012.
Meanwhile, Palin, Sen. John McCain’s former running mate, is 2 percentage points behind Huckabee, at 32 percent.
In its report on the poll, CNN notes that considering the survey’s sampling error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points, Palin and Huckabee are basically tied at this point.
Huckabee got off to a surprisingly good start in his failed bid for the GOP nomination by winning the Republican Iowa caucuses. He prevailed in seven other primary battles before exiting the race in March and throwing his support to McCain, of Arizona.
“It might come as a surprise to some that Palin does better than Huckabee among GOP men, but that Huckabee beats Palin among Republican women. Palin’s strength is also concentrated among older Republicans, but Huckabee may have a slight edge among conservative Republicans,” noted Keating Holland, CNN’s polling director in the CNN report.
As to others in the race: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is in third place in the poll, with 28 percent of those queried responding they are very likely to support him as the GOP nominee in 2012. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is close behind Romey, at 27 percent. Twenty-three percent said they would be very likely to support former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani if he decided to run again. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, whose reputation is that of a future star in the GOP, has the backing of 19 percent. Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is at the end of the pack at 7 percent.
“Jindal and Crist are relative unknowns. The fact that they get much less support than the others is likely a function of name recognition rather than a true measure of their potential base of support,” Holland noted in the CNN report.
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