Huckabee leads GOP contenders in new national poll

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) is the GOP's new front-runner for the Republican nomination, according to a poll from Democratic firm Public Policy Polling.

Huckabee, who stirred controversy at last week's Republican National Committee winter meeting with his remarks about women's libidos and birth control, has a narrow edge over other possible candidates, with 16 percent support.

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Huckabee has vaulted past New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), whose standing has slipped both with Republicans and with the general electorate since his "bridge-gate" scandal.

Christie is now in third place with 11 percent support, trailing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), who has 13 percent support. Christie's net favorability rating with Republicans is down from 18 points a month ago to 2 points now, and his popularity with Democrats and independents has vanished.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is the only other Republican in double-digits with 11 percent support.

Huckabee's edge comes mostly from support from "vey conservative" voters, who'd previously backed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in the poll. Cruz is now tied with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) at 8 percent support apiece.

It's still very early, and any national poll results are unlikely to mean much for the actual presidential race that's still years away. But Huckabee's recent surge shows he still holds sway within the party's socially conservative wing and could be a player, if he decides to run this time around.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field by wide margins. The former first lady also has leads within the margin of error against many of the GOP contenders.

PPP's automated survey of 845 registered voters with landlines with a 20 percent Internet sample was conducted from Jan. 23-26. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percent, with margins of error of 4.6 percent for the Republican primary sample and 5.4 percent for the Democrats.

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