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May 26, 2011 / J. Shaw

Gallup Poll: Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney lead

Mitt Romney (17%) and Sarah Palin (15%) now lead a smaller field of potential Republican presidential candidates in rank-and-file Republicans’ preferences for the party’s 2012 nominee. Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, and Herman Cain essentially tie for third, with Cain registering 8% support in his initial inclusion in Gallup “trial heat” polling. Notably, 22% of Republicans do not have a preference at this point.

Preference for 2012 Republican Presidential Nomination, May 20-24, 2011

See all election 2012 data >

The May 20-24 poll is the first update of Republican nomination preferences after a recent flurry of activity in the race for the 2012 nomination, with several formally declaring their presidential candidacies, including Paul, Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, and Cain.

Perhaps as significant were the decisions by Mike Huckabee, Donald Trump, and Mitch Daniels to forgo the race. In Gallup’s April update, Huckabee and Trump were the co-leaders, with Huckabee placing first in the other Gallup updates this year.

Of the 10 candidates included in the newly reduced list, 7 have either officially announced their candidacies or established exploratory committees. Jon Huntsman and Michele Bachmann are nearing decisions and are expected to get in the race, while Palin’s status as a candidate is less certain.

Re-allocating Palin supporters’ votes to the candidate who is their second choice gives a sense of where current preferences would stand without Palin in the mix. Under this scenario, Romney leads with 19%, followed by Gingrich and Paul with 12% each.

Preference for 2012 Republican Nomination, Excluding Palin, May 20-24, 2011

Romney’s and Palin’s status at the top of the field is owing in large part to their high name identification among rank-and-file Republicans. Gingrich and Paul are also well-known among the party base. Cain, on the other hand, is far less well-known, but he has generated a strong positive reaction among those who do know him, which allows him to place ahead of slightly better-known candidates such as Bachmann, Pawlenty, and Santorum.



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