Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has risen to become the leading choice of likely Republican voters for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, according to a report released Monday.
Though Rasmussen Reports' last survey in July concluded with a nearly three-way tie between Huckabee and former Govs. Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin, Huckabee came out on top in their latest survey, which found 29 percent of likely Republican voters nationwide saying they would vote for Huckabee in 2012, while 24 percent prefer Romney and 18 percent Palin.
In July, 25 percent had chosen Romney, 24 percent Palin, and 22 percent Huckabee. Rasmussen Reports noted that Huckabee's gains "matched almost precisely" with Palin's decline.
"That suggests a large pool of voters are committed to choosing between two candidates routinely dismissed as unacceptable in the eyes of Republicans in Washington, D.C.," the public opinion polling firm reported.
Though Palin appears to be in the running, it's worth noting that the former Alaska governor loses significantly when pit head-to-head with either Huckabee or Romney. When her opponent is Huckabee, Palin loses by 20 points – 55 percent to 35 percent. Against Romney, Palin loses by 15 – 52 percent to 37 percent.
Furthermore, among likely GOP voters, 21 percent said Palin was the GOP candidate they would least like to see win the party's presidential nomination. Just nine percent said the same of Romney and eight percent of Huckabee.
"Support for Huckabee and Romney against Palin is nearly the same among both men and women," Rasmussen added.
When pitting Huckabee against Romney, the survey found that 44 percent prefer Huckabee while 39 percent favor Romney. The remaining 17 percent, meanwhile, are not sure.
The survey's data was released about a month after a straw poll of attendees at the Values Voter Summit in Washington showed Huckabee with a double digit lead over the next closest contender, Romney.
Results from the straw poll showed Huckabee having 28 percent of the votes while former Massachusetts governor Romney won 12.40 percent. Close behind Romney were Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty (12.23 percent), Palin (12.06 percent), and Indiana Congressmen Mike Pence (11.89 percent) in an essentially four-way tie for second place.
Other candidates on the straw poll list were Newt Gingrich, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul.
For Rasmussen's survey, the only candidates survey participants could choose from were Romney, Palin, Huckabee, Gingrich, and Pawlenty.
The national telephone survey was conducted Oct. 15 on 750 likely GOP voters.