Gallup's polling on Republicans' preferences for their party's 2012presidential nominee clearly underscores that there is no early front-runner. This is a departure from what Gallup has found for the GOP nomination since 1972, when state primaries became the main way of selecting the nominee. Previously, a particular candidate held a strong lead at the outset of the Gallup's Republican nomination polling, and that candidate usually led for most of the nominating campaign and eventually won the nomination. The only exception to that general pattern was in 2008. Rudy Giuliani led in early preference polls that year, but his lead began to dwindle in late 2007 and he performed poorly in the initial primaries and caucuses. The current wide-open nature of the 2012 GOP race to date suggests a competitive and perhaps dynamic race ahead.
Although many of the potential 2012 candidates have campaigned in key early primary and caucus states, the most prominent ones have yet to officially declare their candidacies. The field should begin to take shape in the coming months leading up to the first candidate debates this spring.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Feb. 18-20, 2011, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 1,326 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling. For results based on the total sample of Republicans, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.
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The crosstabs can be found here.