Poll: Huckabee preferred candidate in Southern states

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) is far and away the front runner among a long list of possible Republican presidential candidates in Southern states, according to a new poll released Wednesday.

The poll, by Winthrop University, found that in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia Huckabee is the preferred candidate to win the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. He won 20 percent of support among Republicans who said he is their first choice for the nomination.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) comes in second with about 11 percent, followed by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) with about 10 percent. The other 13 candidates listed in the poll, including former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (a little more than 5 percent) and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (about 7 percent), each failed to get above 10 percent of the vote.

Interestingly, the Winthrop poll also found that 39 percent of Republicans hold an unfavorable view of first lady Michelle Obama compared to about 7 percent of Democrats. About 21 percent of Republicans and 21 percent of Democrats say they haven't heard enough about her. The first lady's favorability in the poll is split along party lines, with 68 percent of Democrats holding a favorable view, about 22 percent of Republicans holding a favorable view and 38 percent of Independents having a favorable view.

The poll surveyed 825 responders between Feb. 21 and 27 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.41 percent.