Romney leads Obama, Huckabee even, in early 2012 survey 

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leads President Obama by two points, 44-42 percent, in the latest Rasmussen Reports national survey of voter preference for the 2012 presidential campaign. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is in a dead heat with Obama, with both drawing  43 percent.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin trails Obama by 11 points, while former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is behind the Democratic incumbent by eight and Rep. Ron Paul, R-TX, by nine points.

As he should, Scott Rasmussen offers some important qualifiers about these results: "Seven lesser-known candidates trail by anywhere from 10 to 17 percentage points." Rasmussen added that:

"However, the most significant finding is that regardless of what GOP candidate is named, the president earns between 42% and 49%. This suggests the campaign is starting off in a fairly competitive environment, though much can change in the next year-and-a-half.

"If the president’s job approval ratings improve from this point forward, it is likely that his support will increase against all Republican candidates. If his job approval ratings fall, his numbers are likely to weaken against all potential candidates. It is reasonably safe to assume that the president’s actual vote total on Election Day 2012 will be close to his overall job approval rating.

"It’s also worth noting that a great deal of caution must be taken in terms of interpreting individual results. It is far from clear which candidates will seek the Republican nomination and who ultimately will be nominated.

"At this point in 2008, everybody assumed the Democratic nominee would be Hillary Clinton, and Rudy Giuliani was leading the Republican field. One candidate on our list, Mike Pence, has already dropped out of the race. Other names will be tested in the coming weeks."

Pence, the Indiana representative many conservatives viewed as their likely strongest candidate, announced last week that he will seek his state's governorship rather than the White House in 2012.

For more from Rasmussen on this survey, go here.

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Mark Tapscott

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