A new Gallup analysis of its most recent polling data finds that with Mike Huckabee out of the race for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney are the leaders in Republicans' preferences:
Romney and Palin are essentially tied; Gingrich does slightly less well even though he and Romney have nearly identical name identification.- JP
Ron Paul and Bachmann are the only other potential candidates with name recognition above 50%. They are also next in line in terms of Republican nomination support.
Palin's support is the most intense. A higher percentage of Republicans have strongly favorable opinions than is the case for the other two, giving her a slightly higher overall Positive Intensity Score despite her higher strongly unfavorable percentage.
Gingrich and Romney have similar Positive Intensity Scores.
The overall differences in Republicans' views of these three well-known candidates are not large.
Palin, who has given no indication of whether she will run for the nomination, has very high name identification, is near the top of Republicans' nomination preferences, and has a higher Positive Intensity Score than any other well-known candidate. Palin thus must be considered one of the GOP leaders at this point. Romney and Gingrich are also well-known. Of the two, Romney is slightly better positioned at this point due to his higher ranking in Gallup's trial heats.