Romney Surges to Clear GOP 2012 Lead

And in second place ... Sarah Palin
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 16, 2011 7:52 AM CDT
Republican presidential hopeful, former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney laughs during a campaign stop at a hardware store in Derry, NH, Tuesday June 14, 2011.   (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

(Newser) – Mitt Romney is now the clear frontrunner in the Republican 2012 race, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. Of those likely to vote, 30% said they support Romney, an increase from last month’s 21%. Sarah Palin, who still hasn't said if she's in or out, managed to grab second place—albeit a distant second, at 14%. When Palin was removed from the equation and the options narrowed to six names, Romney's support jumped to 43%. The poll of 1,000 adults was conducted June 9 to 13, which was the evening of this week's big debate.

Despite Romney’s GOP domination, President Obama still led him 49% to 43% in the poll. Obama’s approval rating dropped back to April's number, 49%, and 46% said they disapprove of the job he’s doing. A whopping 62% said the US is not on the right track; all of those numbers suggest a very tight re-election fight, says a pollster. Overall, 45% said they would probably re-elect Obama, while 40% would vote for a Republican. And it was nothing but bad news for Newt Gingrich: 32% of likely GOP voters have a positive opinion of him, down from 50% in April.

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