(CNN) – The Republican presidential primary process doesn't kick off for more than two years, but perhaps it's never too early to take a measure of where a race that's far from starting stands.
It appears to be a three-way race between former White House hopeful Mitt Romney, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and Mike Huckabee - also an ex-presidential aspirant. Romney stands at 26 percent in the new survey, compared to 21 percent for Palin, and 19 percent for Huckabee.
But the poll, which surveyed 455 Republicans and Republican-leaning voters between July 10-12, carries a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points, meaning all three are essentially locked in a dead heat.
Newt Gingrich, the former House Speaker and current conservative commentator stands at 14 percent while Tim Pawlenty and Haley Barbour - the governors of Minnesota and Mississippi respectively - are each in low single digits.
The Gallup survey shows similar results to those of a recent CNN poll that also indicated the same three Republicans are locked in hypothetical race for the party's nomination.
But while Romney, Palin, and Huckabee are clustered on top, the survey shows voters hold a much higher favorability rating of the soon-to-be ex-Alaska governor than the other two Republicans. Palin scores a 72 percent approval rating compared with Huckabee's 59 percent and Romeny's 56 percent.
Though Palin, who has firmly remained in the headlines since she was tapped to be the party's vice presidential candidate last August, appears considerably better known than both men: only 7 percent of Republicans have no opinion of her compared to 28 percent who said the same of Romney and 25 percent who lacked a view of Huckabee.
Of course, polls more than two years before an election are far from predictive: A Gallup survey in 2005 showed Hillary Clinton would win the 2008 Democratic nomination over John Kerry while Rudy Giuliani would edge out McCain on the Republican side. President Obama was not included in the poll.
The next election cycle starts, yay!!! Media, can we have more opinion, commentary, criticisms, follow ups, personality shots, photo ops, bloopers, sound bites, exit polls etc. – forget policy or character. We want all the tabloid stuff. 2012 can't come sooner, hurrah!! We must also start the coverage of the 2016 race in 2010. 2020 too.
As a conservative, Palin wil have a difficult time with all but the most ardent republicans. Huckabee will have difficulty with the anti-religious. I believe Romney will have the best chance against the Dem nominee, most likely Obama, in 2012!
did you also do a poll to figure out how many people actually give a flying crap abotu the GOP's 2012 nomination prospects? hint: it's still 2009 and we're already sick of the fact that 2012 is the ONLY thing the GOP cares about.
poor Mike Huckabee!
i can't believe THREE religious zealots are split three ways! best of luck for their small-minded agendas!
Who cares. It is 2009.
Ah, didn't we just have an election? Can we please not do this for at least 2 years? Please?
I said it here first. PAX DEMOCRATICA
What a sad commentary on the USA.
Sarah Palin a person with questionable intelligence and even more questionable motives.
Just think back to the hate and lies she spewed when on the campaign trail.
I assume this poll excluded Ron Paul........... TISK TISK TISK you wonder why your party is in shambles you exclude your only chance...
Well of course I hope it's Sarah Palin. It will ensure another 4 years with Obama as our President. I admit however watching her get clobbered by people who are actually articulate and informed might be kind of fun.
Looking forward to Republican Primary Debates.
CNN, what we REALLY want to know is who the frontrunner is for the 2028 race! Come on, howzabout some REAL news and not this mindless space-taking glop!
I would suggest that Romney and Huckabee both go have their demons exercised (professionally in a good right wing church). Right now Palin is appealing to the GOP base because as you all know her demons where excercised.
A sample size of 455 people? Hardly a representative sampling with any statistical significance so take these results with many grains of salt.
For a party struggling to re-define themselves, you would think they'd find new people instead of retreading the same, tired candidates from the last election. Maybe the new direction for the GOP is "further down"?
Sarah – YOU ARE MY GIRL!!!
At this point, Mitt is the only viable one of the three. Even if the pres's ratings continue to fall, which I expect they will, Huckabee and Palin simply do not carry a broad of enough of support.
excellent news. Most of us around the world are extremely happy that Palin is in the running. Romney and Huckabee haven't a chance. Obama 2012!
It just goes to show that you can't cure stupid.
In truth, I doubt any of the 3 will win, unless the economy continues to tank, and the voters vote their pocketbooks......which could happen.
The GOP will likely have to do better, in a candidate, to compete on an equal footing in 2012.
I hope Palin gets the nomination just for comedy's sake.
This race has come down to be between Larry, Curly and Moe.
It is still hard to believe that 21% of these Republicans could back Palin.If this percentage of people in their minds actually believe she could run for the highest office in the land then we as a whole are in major trouble. Everytime I read about Palin I just cringe.
The Republicans best hope is that there is someone not included it the poll who may show up because any one of the folks are not even close to Obama's equal much less a winner......though I think Romney alone has the potental to be worse than George W. Bush. The other two would be slightly better than Bush. In the same way that a fall from a 60 story building is slightly better than a fall from 70 story building.
What a collection of religious-nuts, jerks, and crooked liars the Republicans have there. Wow! My DOG would be a more responsible and honest candidate than any of these losers.
I love all of these canidates, but beware...... Obama will find a way to steel the election. We can not wait a minute longer!!!