Poll: Romney, Bush top '16 GOP field
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2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyRussian bounties revive Trump-GOP foreign policy divide Gianforte halts in-person campaigning after wife, running mate attend event with Guilfoyle QAnon scores wins, creating GOP problem MORE is still the favorite candidate of GOP voters looking at 2016, according to a poll released Tuesday by CNN/ORC


In a crowded field, Romney takes 20 percent of the Republican vote, followed by Dr. Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonCarson calls for local leaders to 'condemn vandalization of statues,' 'dismantle autonomous zones' Ben Carson to read stories for children at home amid the coronavirus pandemic Melania Trump reads 'All Different Now' by Angela Johnson to mark Juneteenth MORE at 10 percent, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 9 percent, Gov. Chris Christie (N.J.) at 8 percent, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee at 8 percent, Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) at 6 percent and Romney’s 2012 vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) at 6 percent.

Rounding out the list of Republicans with 5 percent or less are Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Marco Rubio (Fla.), Govs. Scott Walker (Wis.), Rick Perry (Texas), John Kasich (Ohio), Bobby Jindal (La.) and Mike Pence (Ind.), and former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.).

Strategists have told The Hill that Romney is unlikely to run, and they believe he’s enjoying a nostalgia tour that might not hold were he to become an actual candidate. 

The CNN/ORC poll asked voters who their preferred candidates are if Romney doesn’t run, and here, Bush leads the pack with 14 percent, a considerable spike from the same poll in July when he only pulled 8 percent. 

He’s followed in that sample by Carson, an upstart conservative favorite, at 11 percent; Huckabee at 10 percent; Christie at 9 percent; Ryan at 9 percent; Paul at 8 percent; Cruz at 7 percent and Perry at 5 percent. 

Bush has openly said he’s mulling a bid, but strategists wonder if worries about the strain that would put on his family and his preference to focus on policy, rather than retail politicking, would keep him out of it. 

Bush is being pushed by big donors and Republican establishment types to run for president, and if he did, he’d instantly become a top tier candidate with access to all the fundraising dollars he’d need.

The Democratic side is more clear-cut.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton takes 65 percent in the poll, followed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) at 10 percent, Vice President Biden at 9 percent and Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) at 5 percent. If Clinton were not in the race, Biden would have a 2-to-1 lead over Warren with nobody else coming close.

The CNN poll of 1,045 adults was conducted between Nov. 21 and Nov. 23 and has a 3-percentage-point margin of error.