This month's look at the 2012 Republican Presidential field shows the same basic four way tie at the top that we see every month- but looking inside the numbers it also shows an unusual potential path to his party's nomination for Mitt Romney.
Romney's in first place with 22% followed by Mike Huckabee at 21%, Newt Gingrich at 18%, Sarah Palin at 17%, and Ron Paul at 6%.
What's fascinating about Romney's lead, as small as it is, is that it comes despite finishing fourth among conservatives. He gets 18% with them, lagging Gingrich at 22% and Huckabee and Palin at 21%. But he wins moderates by such a wide margin- getting 33% with Huckabee at 22% and the rest in single digits- that it propels him to the overall lead. If Romney can run even or just a little bit behind with conservatives but clean up in the middle that may just be enough to let him get the nomination.
As is the case every month Sarah Palin is the most personally popular of the Republicans, with 66% viewing her favorably. She is followed by Huckabee at 60% and Gingrich and Romney at 57%.
The problem for Palin is that a smaller percentage of the people who like her personally support her for President than any of the other Republicans. 37% of the voters who like Romney also say he's their choice for the 2012 nomination and the same is true for 32% who like Gingrich and Huckabee. But just 24% who see Palin positively on a personal level translate that to intent to vote for her.
One other interesting observation from the numbers:
-Romney's favorability with moderates is 5 point higher than with conservatives. That's quite a contrast to everyone else in the field, who have favorabilities at least 18 points higher with conservatives than moderates. For Palin the gap is 36 points, for Gingrich it's 24 points, and for Huckabee it's 18 points.
Full results here