(CNN) – Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee appears to have the clear advantage out of the gate when it comes to the 2012 battle for the GOP presidential nomination, enjoying a significantly higher net-favorability rating and name identification among national Republicans than any other potential candidate.
According to the new survey by Gallup, Huckabee has a net-favorability rating (the difference between those who hold a favorable view and those who hold an unfavorable view) of 30 percent.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is six points back with a net-favorable of 24 percent with former presidential candidate Mitt Romney and former GOP presidential candidate Sarah Palin are close behind at 23 percent and 22 percent respectively.
Several more possible candidates, including dark horse favorite Mike Pence, Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, Rep. Ron Paul, former Sen. Rick Santorum and Sen. Jon Thune, registered in the high teens.
The survey also shows a clear divide in name identification - with Huckabee, Palin, Romney, and Gingrich considerably more well known to Republicans than the rest of the field - a fact that suggests their favorability ratings may be more static than those of the lesser know candidates because voters have already had ample opportunity to form opinions about them compared to those who are new to the national scene.
Moreover, in what is an ominous sign for Palin and Gingrich, the two generate higher levels of negative reactions than any other leading candidate, a factor that significantly decreases their net favorability rating.
In fact, Palin by far generates the most negative reaction among some Republicans, with 8 percent saying they strongly disfavor her. That compares to 1 percent who said the same about Mike Huckabee and 4 percent who strongly disfavor Gingrich.
The Gallup poll was conducted Jan. 4-5 among 923 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents interviewed by telephone. It carries a sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.