The Daily Caller/ConservativeHome Tracking Poll: Romney most likely to beat Obama, Christie most liked

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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According to the inaugural The Daily Caller/ConservativeHome 2012 Presidential Tracking Poll, 27 percent of a panel of likely Republican primary voters believe former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has the best chance of beating President Obama in 2012, though he is not necessarily the candidate they like the most, or believe would do the best job controlling federal government spending or dealing with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Fifteen percent chose New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as their favorite candidate — more than any other candidate — though he has continually insisted that he is not running.

The survey was e-mailed to 2,500 participants who identify as conservative Republicans and are considered likely primary voters. The majority of the panel is politically active, with 70 percent having contributed money to a campaign or worked on a campaign. Thirty-five percent of the members on the panel self-identify as part of the Tea Party, while 58 percent say they sympathize with the movement. Participants were asked six questions and asked to choose their favorite from among 17 potential primary candidates. There were 736 members of the panel who responded to the survey. The results of the survey appear below, showing the top five in each category.

(Click here to see the full results)

Who do you like the most?

  1. 15% – Chris Christie
  2. 14% – Sarah Palin
  3. 12% – Newt Gingrich
  4. 10% – Mitt Romney
  5. 9% – Michele Bachmann

Who is most likely to win in 2012?

  1. 27% – Mitt Romney
  2. 15% – Chris Christie
  3. 12% – Newt Gingrich
  4. 10% – Mike Huckabee
  5. 6% – Sarah Palin and Tim Pawlenty (tie)

Who is the most conservative?

  1. 19% – Michele Bachmann
  2. 16% – Sarah Palin
  3. 14% – Ron Paul
  4. 11% – Newt Gingrich
  5. 7% – Chris Christie

Who would do the best job on the economy?

  1. 16% – Chris Christie
  2. 15% – Mitt Romney
  3. 14% – Donald Trump
  4. 10% – Newt Gingrich
  5. 7% – Sarah Palin

Who would do the best job keeping Washington’s spending under control?

  1. 20% – Chris Christie
  2. 11% – Newt Gingrich
  3. 10% – Ron Paul and Sarah Palin (tie)
  4. 9% – Michele Bachmann and Donald Trump (tie)

Who would do the best job handling the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?

  1. 25% – John Bolton
  2. 24% – Newt Gingrich
  3. 7% – Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney (tie)
  4. 6% – Mike Huckabee

Across the board, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie received the most support. Gingrich is favored by at least 10 percent of respondents in each category. Christie gets higher points than Gingrich in most categories, though fewer respondents consider Christie to be the most conservative candidate and respondents have little confidence in his ability to handle America’s wars compared to other potential contenders.

Asked which candidate would do the best job handling the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a quarter of respondents favored former Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, while 24 percent of respondents chose former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. No other potential candidate garnered more than 7 percent favorability on the issue.

Though no more than three percent of respondents favored Bolton in any other category, his expertise in the area of foreign policy could put his name into the pool of possible vice presidential candidates, especially if the Republican nominee is a governor with little foreign policy experience.

Also of interest is the disparity between how well respondents believe a candidate could handle the economy and how well they could control government spending. For instance, 15 percent of respondents believe Romney would do the best job handling the economy, but only 7 percent think he would be the best at restraining government spending. The same effect is evident with businessman Donald Trump. Fourteen percent of respondents said that he would do the best job handling the economy, the only category in which he received any significant amount of support. But only nine percent think he would be the best at keeping Washington spending under control.

Conversely, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and Texas Rep. Ron Paul all receive minimal support for their ability to handle the economy, but significantly greater support for their ability to restrain government spending, with each of them gaining three to four percent more of the vote in that category. Palin, Bachmann and Paul are also considered by respondents to be the most conservative (in that order) of the potential candidates.

When asked which candidates they like the most, Christie leads with 15 percent, followed by Palin (14 percent) and Gingrich (12 percent).

The potential candidates included in the survey were: Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, for U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, businessman Herman Cain, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former U.S Ambassador to China John Huntsman, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and businessman Donald Trump.

One potential candidate, former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer, was not included in this survey, as he announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee shortly after the survey had been sent out. He will appear in the next survey.

This is the inaugural Daily Caller/ConservativeHome 2012 Presidential Tracking Poll. Polls will be conducted biweekly allowing us to track trends in the lead up to 2012 Presidential Election.