The former governor of Massachusetts leads a large pack of potential Republican presidential nominees in the Jan. 21-22 Townhall/Gravis poll of 831 likely Republican and Independent voters.
W. Mitt Romney, who was the GOP nominee for president in 2012 against President Barack Obama was the selection of 20 percent of the respondents, followed by former Florida governor John E. "Jeb" Bush with 16 percent and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker with 9 percent, said Doug Kaplan, the managing partner of Gravis Marketing, the Florida-based company that conducted the poll.
Here are the results for the rest of the field:
- Michael Huckabee 8 percent
- Sen. R. Edward "Ted" Cruz 8 percent
- Sen. Randal H. "Rand" Paul 7 percent
- Sen. Marco A. Rubio 7 percent
- Gov. Christopher J. Christie 5 percent
- Richard "Rick" Santorum 4 percent
- Richard "Rick" Perry 4 percent
In the 2012 GOP South Carolina primary, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich won with 40 percent of the vote, outpacing Romney's 28 percent and Santorum's 17 percent, Kaplan said. "Although Gingrich won, Romney was the eventual nominee--as that race was constantly changing leaders, but Romney was consistently near the top as his rivals rose and fell."
In the 2008 GOP South Carolina primary, Huckabee finished a strong second with 30 percent behind the eventual nominee Nevada Sen. John S. McCain III. In that contest, Romney finished fourth with 15 percent of the vote, he said.
"Despite having 10 choices, the 12 percent of the people we surveyed told us they were undecided," Kaplan said. The poll carries a margin of error of 3 percent. The total may not add to 100 percent due to rounding. The poll is of likely primary voters, the telephone survey was conducted using automated IVR telephone calls.
"One complication is the on-again-off-again nature of the Romney campaign," he said. "There is a strong chance that he will not run, especially given the nature of his wife's health, so we ran a second poll without Romney."
In the sine Romney poll, Bush leads with 18 percent, while Huckabee and Walker jump to 11 percent, he said.
"We also see the undecideds jump to 17 percent, so that really tells us that while Bush's support is committed to him with or without Romney in the race, there is a lot of movement," he said.