Gallup poll finds Mitt Romney leading 2012 Republican presidential contenders

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leads the pack of Republican contenders for the 2012 presidential nomination, a new poll found Thursday. 

A Gallup poll of Republicans found that 19 percent would support Romney in a primary, followed by 16 percent who support former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and 12 percent who back former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Romney led among both self-identified conservatives and centrists in the GOP, an early advantage for the potential 2012 candidate who also ran in 2008.

Other established party figures like former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), who ran in 2008, garnered some buzz, receiving support from 9 and 7 percent of GOP voters, respectively.

Meanwhile, the poll showed that some of the candidates seen by political professionals as contenders for the nomination haven't gotten the traction they might have hoped for at this point.

Three percent of GOP voters backed Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty for president — the same amount that supported Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association (RGA).

Checking in at 2 percent were Sen. John Thune (S.D.), Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.).

One percent of Republicans picked House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.), who is fresh off a straw poll win of social conservatives at the Values Voter Summit. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson each got 1 percent as well.

The poll, conducted Sept. 25-26, has a 4 percent margin of error.