Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leads an early field of potential Republican challengers to President Obama in 2012, a new poll found, though Obama maintains an early lead over all would-be GOP opponents.

30 percent of Republicans prefer Romney in an early test of the 2012 Republican primary field, according to a survey conducted earlier this month by the Clarus Research Group.

The Massachusetts conservative leads a potential field including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), according to the poll.

22 percent of Republicans prefer Huckabee, 18 percent like Palin, 15 percent want Gingrich, and four percent support Jindal, according to the poll.

Still, President Obama maintains a comfortable lead over all the Republicans tested in the poll.

Obama leads Romney 47-38, Huckabee 48-38, Gingrich 52-34, and Palin 53-34.

Of all Republican candidates, Romney fares the best with independent voters -- claiming a two point edge over the president -- while Palin fares the worst, with Obama enjoying a 15 point margin above Palin.

The poll, conducted by live telephone interviews between August 14-18, has a 3.1 percent margin of error.