So who benefits from the recent departures ofÂ Mike Huckabee andÂ Donald Trump?Â Mitt Romney, by a fair margin, according to one just-released poll.
Just as telling, though, is that four out of 10 Republicans said they were still dissatisfied with the GOP field. And none of the current crop of candidates, according toÂ a Suffolk University poll of likely voters, could beat PresidentÂ Barack Obama if the election were held now.
The poll, one of the first to be released since Messrs. Huckabee and Trump said they wouldnâ€™t run, found that a plurality of their supportersâ€”29%â€“said they would now back Mr. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor. The pollsters called back those who had supported the other two in the first round of calls.
In all, the poll found that 1-in-5 Republicans favored Mr. Romney, with former Alaska Gov.Â Sarah Palinâ€”who may not even run for the nominationâ€”coming in second with 12%.Â Former House SpeakerÂ Newt Gingrich came in third at 9%.
While establishing Mr. Romney as the putative front-runner, the poll underscored the challenge the GOP faces in knocking off Mr. Obama. A majority of respondents, for instance, held favorable views of the president, while only 39% held positive views of Mr. Romney.
The poll also vividly illustrated the work that other 2012 candidates still have to do to establish any sense of traction. Nearly 40% of those questioned said they drew a blank when asked about former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who is seen by many within the party as the likeliest alternative to Mr. Romney.
Other potential Republican contenders drew sharply negative responses. Ms. Palin, for instance, was viewed unfavorably by 58% of all respondents, while half of those questioned held negative views of Mr. Gingrich.
The survey of 1,070 likely voters was conducted May 10 to May 17, and has a three percentage point margin of error.
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