WASHINGTON, D.C., March 28, 2011 ( – Former pro-life Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee leads a list of potential GOP presidential contenders, surpassing Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin, according to a new Gallup poll.

In a March Gallup survey of 1,000 Republicans and GOP-leaning independents, Huckabee ranks as the top choice with 19 percent – up a point from a month ago – to face pro-abortion president Barack Obama in November 2012.

The other two potential contenders and conservative icons – former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin – actually have lost support in GOP ranks, according to the poll.

Romney has slid to 15 percent support among the GOP – down a point from last month, and down four points since November.

Huckabee was a contender against Romney in the 2008 GOP primaries. Both men, however, lost to U.S. Sen. John McCain. McCain later picked Palin as his vice-presidential nominee.

Palin also has slipped after holding steady at 16 percent since September; she now ranks third at 12 percent.

The other contenders examined were Mitch Daniels, Tim Pawlenty, Haley Barbour, John Huntsman, Rick Santorum, and Gary Johnson. Some respondents did volunteer Donald Trump, Chris Christie, Herman Cain, Mike Pence, and John Thune as potential contenders they would like to consider in 2012.

All the potential candidates either profess pro-life beliefs or have a pro-life record.

Neither Huckabee, Romney, nor Palin have announced their intention to enter the race for the 2012 presidential election.

Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced he was forming a U.S. presidential committee on March 19, during the time of the Gallup poll (March 18-22). But his support remains very low (3%), and is a point lower than a February poll.

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann recently generated speculation about exploring a presidential run, but that happened only after the conclusion of the poll.

The first primary will be held in February 2012.


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