Romney, Palin top narrowed field

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin lead a winnowed-down Republican presidential primary field, according to a poll released Thursday.

Seventeen percent of Republicans said in a new Gallup poll they would like to see Romney win the GOP nomination; 15 percent would back Palin.

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The poll is the first major national poll since several would-be candidates — Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and real estate mogul Donald Trump — announced they wouldn't seek the nomination.

The poll keeps with most others in suggesting that Romney is the front-runner. But he owns no commanding lead, reflecting a degree of fluidity in Republicans' view of the candidates in the narrowed field.

Ten percent of Republicans said they support Rep. Ron Paul's (Texas) bid for the White House, eclipsing former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.), who drew the support of 9 percent.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was the support enjoyed by Herman Cain, the former Godfather's Pizza CEO who is waging a longshot bid for the presidency. Eight percent of Republicans said they back Cain, who has wowed some GOP voters in debates and on the campaign trail.

Rounding out the field are former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty at 6 percent, Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) at 5 percent, and former Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.), all at 2 percent.

The poll, conducted May 20-24, has a margin of error of four points.