Mitt Romney is the early preference, by a small margin, among Republican voters in both Texas and New Mexico to be their 2012 nominee for President.
In Texas he gets 32% with Mike Huckabee right behind at 29%, and Sarah Palin further back at 23%. In New Mexico he receives 33% to 32% for Palin and 18% for Huckabee.
The internals of these polls suggests a path to the nomination for Romney: stay competitive among conservative voters while holding a large lead with moderates. In Texas the three are bunched up among conservatives with Huckabee leading at 32% to 30% for Romney and 27% for Palin. But Romney's blowing the other two out of the water with moderates, getting 40% to 22% for Huckabee and 13% for Palin.
It's a similar story in New Mexico. Palin leads Romney 34-31 with conservatives, but Romney has the overall advantage thanks to a 37-29 advantage with moderates.
In each state Romney is particularly strong with senior citizens, who tend to comprise a large portion of the Republican primary electorate. He has an 11 point lead over Huckabee with them in Texas and 13 point lead over Palin with them in New Mexico.
One of the more interesting things about Palin's numbers is that she performs worse with women than men in both states. In New Mexico she gets 33% from men and 31% from women, while in Texas she gets 26% from men and 21% from women. It doesn't appear she'd be able to count on a boost from Republican women in a hypothetical White House bid.
Obviously it's incredibly early and things will change a lot between now and 2012, but it's a good sign for Romney to have even this small early advantage in a couple of states that are a long way from home.
Full results here