Donald Trump debuts in a first-place tie in Gallup’s latest update of Republicans’ preferences for the party’s 2012 presidential nomination among potential contenders. Trump ties Mike Huckabee at 16%, with Mitt Romney close behind at 13%. Sarah Palin is the only other potential Republican candidate to earn double-digit support.
The April 15-20 Gallup poll finds Trump leading the field among moderate and liberal Republicans, with 21% supporting him. Huckabee is the leader among conservative Republicans. Huckabee’s support and Trump’s support differ between ideological groups, while Romney and Palin get similar support from both ideological wings of the party.
Among the lower-ranked candidates, Newt Gingrich’s support and Michele Bachmann’s support tilt decidedly conservative. Trump is the only potential candidate who shows notably stronger appeal to liberals and moderates than to conservatives within the GOP.
Trump’s strong showing in Republican nomination preferences is partly a function of his high profile. Currently, the top vote-gettersÂ are generally the best-known Republicans. Lesser-known potential candidates such as Tim Pawlenty, Mitch Daniels, and Rick Santorum have more limited support on the nomination ballot at this point.
That is a typical pattern in early nomination preference polls. Once campaigning gets underway in earnest later this year, and after the initial primaries and caucuses next year, some of the currently lesser-known candidates may emerge as stronger candidates, and some of the better-known candidates may fade.