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Romney Holds Slight Edge Over Huckabee and Palin

History tells us that primary races are all about name recognition at this early stage, and right now, not surprisingly the best-known Republican hopefuls are running ahead among likely party primary voters.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney leads the pack with the support of 24% of Likely Republican Primary Voters. Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, the party’s nominee for vice president in 2008, runs second with 19%, closely followed by Mike Huckabee with 17%. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas who now hosts a program on the Fox News network, and Romney were both unsuccessful contenders for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008. The new findings are no surprise since the top three vote-getters have been running closely in surveys for months.  None of the seven prominent Republicans we asked primary voters about has officially declared that they are running for the party’s presidential nomination.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich comes in fourth with 11% support. Tim Pawlenty, who recently stepped down as governor of Minnesota, earns six percent (6%) of the primary vote, followed by Texas Congressman Ron Paul at four percent (4%) and Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels with three percent (3%). Six percent (6%) like some other candidate, and 10% are undecided given this list.

“People shouldn’t assume that the party’s eventual nominee will come from among the early frontrunners,” Scott Rasmussen notes. “Lots of candidates, like lots of baseball teams, look good on paper, but you don’t win the nomination on paper. You win by going to Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina and convincing small groups of people in living rooms to follow you.”

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The survey of 1,000 Likely GOP Primary Voters was conducted on January 18, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. Likely GOP Primary Voters include both Republicans and unaffiliated voters likely to vote in a GOP Primary. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

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