The survey indicates that the race for the Republican nomination is still wide open, with Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, and Mitt Romney all clustered at the top of the pack. Twenty-one percent of Republicans and independents who lean Republican say if Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and 2008 GOP presidential candidate, decides to run for the White House, they would be likely to support him for their party’s presidential nomination, followed by Palin, the former Alaska governor & 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, at 19 percent, and Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and 2008 Republican presidential contender, at 18 percent.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, at ten percent, is the only other Republican tested who gets double-digit support. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who made a bid for the last GOP presidential nomination, came in at seven percent, with the remaining potential candidates named in the poll all in the low single digits. CNN’s poll numbers are in-line with most other national GOP 2012 horse race surveys.
It’s worth remembering that polls taken a year before the first votes will be cast are mostly a matter of name recognition.
“Keep in mind that Joe Lieberman and Rudy Giuliani – both relatively famous when they decided to run for president – were ahead in polls conducted in 2003 and 2007,” says Holland. “Neither man won a single primary or caucus once the voting started.”
The poll indicates that potential candidates like Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour are virtual unkowns to at least six in ten Republicans.