Romney leads race for GOP nomination

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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Romney leads the pack of contenders for the Republican nomination by a long shot, according to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released Wednesday evening.

Given a list of possible Republican nominees, 30 percent of registered voters who plan to vote in a Republican primary said that if the primary were held today, Romney would get their vote. 14 percent said Sarah Palin, and 12 percent responded Herman Cain. None of the other candidates registered double digit support in the poll.

The end date of the poll, conducted between June 9 and 13, coincided with Monday night’s Republican primary debate in New Hampshire of which Romney was declared the winner.

If the field is limited to just Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Tim Pawlenty, Romney receives 43 percent, compared to the 11 percent garnered by second place finishers Paul and Bachmann. That suggests that Romney is also the second choice candidate for a number of voters.

Pawlenty, Santorum, Bachmann, and Huntsman make up the bottom half of the rankings. Huntsman, who has yet to officially declare his candidacy, has only 1 percent of the vote. Santorum and Pawlenty tie with 4 percent; Bachmann has 3 percent.

In a head-to-head match-up with President Obama, 43 percent of registered voters said that they would pick Romney, and 49 percent said they would pick Obama. If Obama were competing against Pawlenty, the other person considered to be a top-tier candidate, Obama would get 50 percent of the vote, and Pawlenty 37 percent.

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Republican voters are split on whether or not they are satisfied with the field of candidates, with 45 percent saying they are, and 45 percent saying they are not.

For his part, Obama retains a positive approval rating, but when it comes to the economy, registered voters are not pleased. In general, 49 percent said they approve of the job he is doing as president and 46 percent disapproved. On the economy, however, 54 percent disapprove and 41 percent approve. Obama’s approval numbers are buoyed by the perception that he is doing well with foreign policy – 50 percent said they approved of the way he was handling foreign policy, 54 percent when only the war in Afghanistan was specified.

On who’s to blame for those economic troubles, voters are slightly more likely to assign blame to former President George W. Bush than to Obama. Though voters were reluctant to name either Bush or Obama as solely responsible, 33 percent said that Bush was mainly responsible, while just 24 percent said the same of Obama. A plurality, 43 percent, said that Bush was only somewhat responsible. 48 percent said that of Obama.

Americans are divided over whether or not a double dip recession is imminent, with 44 percent saying that we are headed into another recession, and 42 percent that it will not happen.

For the poll, 1,000 adults were interviewed on the phone, with 200 of those calls being made to cell phones. The margin of error is 3.1 percent.