[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/13/art.obama.palin.jpg caption="A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Tuesday indicates that President Barack Obama would top the former Alaska governor by double digits in a possible 2012 general election showdown."]Washington (CNN) - She may be the best known Republican politician considering a bid for the White House, but Sarah Palin comes in third in a hypothetical horserace for the next GOP presidential nomination, according to a new national poll.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Tuesday also indicates that President Barack Obama would top the former Alaska governor by double digits in a possible 2012 general election showdown.
The survey found that 24 percent of Republicans and Republican leaning Independents say they would most likely support Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and 2008 GOP presidential candidate, in the battle for the 2012 GOP nomination. And 20 percent said they would back former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who also ran for the White House in 2008. Palin, who was Sen. John McCain's running mate in the last presidential election, came in third place with 15 percent, a point ahead of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
According to the poll, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, another 2008 Republican presidential hopeful, would be in fifth place, with eight percent. Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour all register in the lower single digits in the hypothetical 2012 GOP presidential nomination matchup.
"Huckabee does best among women, regular church-goers, and Republicans who never attended college," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Romney gets better numbers among white collar Republicans and GOPers who attend church once a month or less. Palin does not win among any of those groups, despite the fact that she has a higher favorable rating among Republicans than Huckabee, Romney or Gingrich."
What about the hypothetical general election matchup in 2012 against President Obama?
The poll shows Obama topping Romney 53 percent to 45 percent, beating Huckabee 54 percent to 45 percent, defeating Gingrich 55 percent to 43 percent and topping Palin 55 percent to 42.
"It is important to remember that at this stage of the game, candidate matchups are largely driven by name recognition, and at least a quarter of all Americans are unfamiliar with Romney, Huckabee and Gingrich. As a result, Obama has an 8- to-12-point edge over each of them in hypothetical matchups," adds Holland. "But in a previous CNN poll, Obama managed no better than a tie against an unnamed Republican."
But there is something more than name recognition at work in Obama's big lead over Palin.
"Palin is almost as well known as Obama, but the general public appears to have some doubts about what they have seen of her so far," says Holland.
The poll found that 61 percent of Americans think Palin is not a typical politician, and half see her as honest and trustworthy. But 54 percent say they don't agree with her on the issues, 56 percent say she is not a strong and decisive leader, and 69 percent say she is not qualified to be president. Palin is popular in the South and in rural areas, but her unfavorable rating is at or near 60 percent among women, suburbanites, Independents, and in the Northeast and West.
The poll was conducted April 9-11, with 1,008 adult Americans, including 907 registered voters, questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points and plus or minus 4.5 percentage points for the sample of 498 Republicans and Republican leaning Independents.
–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report