Before the 2012 GOP presidential primary contest even begins, we’ve got a three way split. But right now at least Mike Huckabee has a slight lead and is also the favorite of white evangelical Protestants. More below from Chris Cillizza at The Washington Post:
Former Govs. Mike Huckabee (Ark.), Sarah Palin (Alaska) and Mitt Romney (Mass.) make up the top tier of the 2012 Republican presidential field, according to a new poll from the Washington Post and ABC News.
Huckabee took 21 percent of the vote while Palin received 19 percent and Romney 17 percent among Republicans and GOP-leaning independents. No other potential candidate made it into double digits, although former House Speaker Newt Gingrich received 9 percent and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took 8 percent. The rest of the field received 3 percent or less support.
The results were largely consistent across demographic groups with Huckabee, Romney and Palin grouped in front.
Huckabee and Palin, in particular, seem to share a common base -- both running more strongly among those with family incomes of $50,000 or less (Huckabee 26 percent, Palin 25 percent) and whites without college degrees (Palin 26 percent, Huckabee 25 percent).
Romney, on the other hand, runs best among the college educated (30 percent), whites making over $50,000 a year (29 percent) and whites with college degrees (32 percent).
Among self-identified conservatives, the top tier expands slightly to include Christie and Gingrich. Nineteen percent of conservatives favor Huckabee as compared to 16 percent for Romney, 14 percent for Palin, and 11 percent each for Gingrich and Christie.
Slice that vote even thinner to include only those who describe themselves as "very conservative," and Huckabee emerges as the clearer favorite with 21 percent followed by Palin and Gingrich at 14 percent. Romney takes 12 percent to Christie's 11 percent among that subset.
Huckabee is also the favored candidate of white evangelical Protestants; he takes 29 percent among that group as compared to 22 percent for Palin and 12 percent for Romney.