Ex-Govs. Mike Huckabee (Ark.), Sarah Palin (Ala.) and Mitt Romney (Mass.) are the three frontrunners and are running virtually neck and neck in an ABC News/Washington Post national survey of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents.
The poll found 21 percent of those surveyed said they would vote for Huckabee, 19 percent said would go for Palin and 17 percent said they would support Romney.
Backing for other potential candidates is much weaker, the poll found.
After Romney, the possible hopefuls who would get the most votes are former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich at 9 percent and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at 8 percent.
Other GOPers – including Rick Perry, Mitch Daniels and Tim Pawlenty – each won the support of 3 percent or less of those surveyed, mostly likely because they are not yet well known nationally.
Among self-identified “very conservative” voters, Huckabee has a clear lead, followed by Palin, then Romney. But honestly, is any of this really a shock? At this point in the game, the frontrunners owe their position to name recognition and nothing else. Iowa and New Hampshire are retail politics states where underdogs can win, even if unknown candidates tend to have a better shot at the democratic nomination than that of the GOP. Remember, at this point in the campaign four years ago, Rudy Giuliani led John McCain by twelve points – and Mike Huckabee was within the margin of error, with only one point. Though the Republicans tend to go for the establishment candidate, it’s not clear who that is yet…