[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/11/art.romney.file.gi.jpg caption="A Gallup poll released Thursday indicates that 14 percent of Republican voters and Republican-leaning independents say they would like to see Mitt Romney as their party's nominee in 2012."]Washington (CNN) - It's still early in the pre-season in the next battle for the White House, and a new poll indicates that the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination is wide open.
A Gallup poll released Thursday indicates that 14 percent of Republican voters and Republican-leaning independents say they would like to see former Massachusetts Gov. and 2008 GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney as their party's nominee.
Eleven percent of those questioned said they'd like former Alaska Gov. and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin as their party's candidate in 2012, with 7 percent backing Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the 2008 GOP presidential nominee, 4 percent supporting the newest member of the Senate, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, and 3 percent pulling for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and for former Arkansas Gov. and 2008 Republican White House hopeful Mike Huckabee. Everyone else registered at 2 percent or less.
The survey, without prompting any names, asked Republicans and Republican leaning-independents whom they would most like to see as the party's 2012 presidential candidate.
In a hypothetical 2012 general election match-up, the poll indicates that 44 percent of the public say they would likely support President Barack Obama if he decides to run for re-election, with 42 percent backing the Republican candidate and 14 percent undecided or supporting another candidate.
According to the survey, Democrats would overwhelmingly back Obama and Republicans overwhelming support the GOP candidate.
Thirty-one percent of independents questioned say they would support Obama, with 45 percent backing the Republican candidate and 1 in 4 backing another candidate or undecided.
The survey's release comes one week before some possible 2012 GOP presidential contenders will speak at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.
The Gallup poll was conducted February 1-3, with 1,025 adults questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 4 percentage points for the overall sample and plus or minus 5 percentage points for the Republican only questions.
–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report
Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn