New poll shows Romney as top GOP favorite for presidential race

Jonathan Easley --- The Hill 

2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is still the favorite candidate of GOP voters looking at 2016, according to a poll released Tuesday by CNN/ORC

In a crowded field, Romney takes 20 percent of the Republican vote, followed by Dr. Ben Carson at 10, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 9, Gov. Chris Christie (N.J.) at 8, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee at 8, Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) at 6, and Romney’s 2012 vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) at 6.

Rounding out the list of Republicans with 5 percent or less are Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), Gov. Scott Walker (Wis.), Gov. Rick Perry (Texas), Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Gov. John Kasich (Ohio), former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.), Gov. Bobby Jindal (La.), and Gov. Mike Pence (Ind.).

Strategists have told The Hill that Romney is unlikely to run, and that they believe he’s enjoying a nostalgia tour that might not hold were he to become an actual candidate. 

The CNN-ORC poll asked voters who their preferred candidates are if Romney doesn’t run, and here, Bush leads the pack with 14 percent, a considerable spike from the same poll in July when he only pulled 8. 

He’s followed in that sample by Carson, an upstart conservative favorite, at 11 percent, Huckabee at 10, Christie at 9, Ryan at 9, Paul at 8, Cruz at 7, and Perry at 5 percent. 

Bush has openly said he’s mulling a bid, but strategists wonder if he worries if the strain that would put on his family and his preference to focus on policy, rather than retail politicking, will keep him out of it. 

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