Former Massachusetts governor and 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney has a significant lead among a large pack of potential 2016 contenders in the all-important primary state of South Carolina, a new poll has found.
According to a Townhall/Gravis poll
of 831 likely GOP and independent voters conducted Jan. 21-22, Romney gets 20 percent support, while former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush comes in second at 16 percent.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who wowed the grassroots at the Iowa Freedom Summit
last weekend, came in third place with 9 percent.
Seven other candidates who were polled all came under 10 percent as well: former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, 8 percent; Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, 8 percent; Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, 7 percent; Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, 7 percent; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, 5 percent; former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, 4 percent; former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, 4 percent.
In the 2012 South Carolina GOP primary, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich won with 40 percent, trumping Romney's 28 percent, and Santorum was third at 17 percent.
"Although Gingrich won, Romney was the eventual nominee — as that race was constantly changing leaders, but Romney was consistently near the top as his rivals rose and fell," said Doug Kaplan, managing partner of Gravis Marketing, the Florida-based company that conducted the poll, in a statement.
"Despite having 10 choices, 12 percent of the people we surveyed told us they were undecided," Kaplan added.
"One complication is the on-again-off-again nature of the Romney campaign," he said. "There is a strong chance that he will not run, especially given the nature of his wife's health, so we ran a second poll without Romney."
In the poll without Romney, Bush took the lead with 18 percent, while Huckabee and Walker both got 11 percent.
"We also see the undecideds jump to 17 percent, so that really tells us that while Bush's support is committed to him with or without Romney in the race, there is a lot of movement," Kaplan said.
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