GOP White House field needs to dethrone Huckabee in Iowa

A recent survey shows Mike Huckabee remains the darling of Iowa Republicans.

The former Arkansas governor has been taciturn about whether he plans to run again in 2012 for the GOP presidential nomination, but that hasn't tempered enthusiasm for him in the lead-off caucus state. 

Huckabee, who came out on top in the 2008 Iowa caucuses, remains the front-runner, according to a new survey by Public Policy Polling. He took 30 percent of the vote compared to 18 percent for Mitt Romney, who was runner-up in 2008. 

Huckabee won Iowa in 2008 with 34 percent of support from delegates to 25 percent for Romney, who outspent his rival by millions of dollars. 

Sarah Palin was in third in the PPP poll, with 15 percent of the vote, while Newt Gingrich took 13 percent and Texas Rep. Ron Paul had 6 percent.

Former Minnestoa Gov. Tim Pawlenty had support from only 4 percent of respondents, while 3 percent said they were backing Sen. John Thune (S.D.). Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels was backed by only 1 percent.

PPP, a Democratic-leaning firm, surveyed 494 usual Iowa Republican primary voters from Jan. 7-9. The poll's margin of error was 4.4 percent.

Moreover, the poll showed that Huckabee was the second choice of a plurality of respondents — another good sign if he decides to run again. Should their first-choice candidates fail to become viable at the precinct caucuses, 19 percent said they'd gravitate to Huckabee, 9 percent said Romney, 13 percent said Palin and 12 percent said Gingrich.