Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) leads in favorability among likely Republican voters for the 2012 presidential nomination.

A Rasmussen Reports poll showed Palin with an 82 percent favorability rating, compared to 17 percent who view her unfavorably. Fifty percent of likely voters in the 2012 primary elections for the presidential nomination had a very favorable opinion of the former governor, while 8 percent claimed they have a very unfavorable opinion of her.

Former Govs. Mitt Romney (R-Mass.) and Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.) trailed Palin with a favorability of 79 percent apiece. Seventeen percent hold unfavorable opinions of the two. Both potential candidates for the 2012 presidency ran in 2008, only to fall short to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who was defeated by then-Sen. Barack Obama.

In 2009, Palin only trailed Romney as the presidential candidate Republicans said they would vote for in the 2012 primaries. But she was also one of two candidates Republicans least hoped would win the party’s nomination, along with Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R).

The three top contenders for the Republican nomination to challenge Obama in 2012 remain tied when likely primary voters were asked which candidate they would vote for if the primaries were held today.

The poll surveyed 1,000 likely Republican primary voters and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percentage points.