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CNN Polls 2012: Romney and Huckabee Lead Obama; Palin and Gingrich Trail

1:42 PM, Nov 4, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Yes, it's early, but here's a new CNN poll of the GOP presidential field:

According to the poll, 21 percent of Republicans say they would most likely support former Arkansas Gov. and 2008 GOP White House candidate Mike Huckabee for their party's 2012 presidential nomination, with 20 percent saying they'd back former Massachusetts Gov. and 2008 Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, 14 percent supporting Palin, the former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, and 12 percent backing former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia. 

 The remaining candidates whose names were asked in the question were all in single digits, led by Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who also ran for the GOP presidential nomination the last time around, followed by Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana at 3 percent, and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania at 2 percent.

 Of course, polls in the early primary states--Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida--matter more than national polls (just ask Rudy Giuliani). As for hypothetical 2012 match-ups against Obama, Huckabee and Romney lead the president by 8 points and 5 points, respectively, while Palin and Gingrich trail Obama by 7 points and 2 points, respectively:

In a possible general election showdown, Obama leads Palin 52-44 percent among all registered voters.

"Looking ahead to 2012, it may be too early to count Barack Obama out, particularly if Sarah Palin is his opponent," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "The former Alaska governor gets a lot of attention, but she is in third place when Republicans are asked to pick a presidential nominee, and in a hypothetical matchup with Obama she is arguably the weakest candidate of the top-tier GOP hopefuls."

In a hypothetical 2012 matchup, Huckabee leads Obama 52 – 44 percent, while Romney has a 50-45 point advantage, which is within the poll's sampling error. Obama hold a 49-47 percent margin over Gingrich.

The poll indicates that four in 10 have a favorable opinion of Palin, with nearly half saying they have an unfavorable view. Romney has a 36 percent favorable rating and a 29 percent unfavorable rating, with 35 percent unsure. Forty-two percent say they see Huckabee in a positive light, with 26 percent saying they hold a negative view and just over three in 10 are unsure. Gingrich has 32 percent favorable rating, with four in 10 saying they have an unfavorable view, and 28 percent unsure.

Again, it's early and there's a good chance that none of these candidates will be the GOP nominee in 2012. I'm a little surprised CNN didn't poll Mitch Daniels.

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