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Huckabee atop poll of GOP contenders; Palin down

Mike Huckabee AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Republicans and GOP-leaning independents are more likely to support Mike Huckabee than anyone else in the wide-open field of potential Republican presidential candidates, according to a Gallup poll out Friday.

Gallup listed a dozen potential candidates and asked which one respondents wanted to see as their party's nominee next year. Huckabee came out on top with 19 percent support. He appears to be on the rise - he had 12 percent support last September - even as signs suggest he may sit the race out.

Mitt Romney followed Huckabee with 15 percent support, though he is down from 19 percent last November. In third was Sarah Palin, who also saw her support fall -- from 16 percent last month to 12 percent today.

Next came Newt Gingrich with 10 percent support, Ron Paul with 6 percent, Michele Bachmann with 5 percent, Mitch Daniels with 4 percent and Tim Pawlenty with 3 percent.

Respondents were also asked to weigh in under a scenario in which Huckabee doesn't run. In that case, the poll suggests most of his support shifts to Romney, Palin and Gingrich, whose support levels each increased 3-5 percent.

Without Palin in the race, meanwhile, Huckabee gets 23 percent support, seven points higher than Romney, his nearest competitor. A race lacking either Palin or Huckabee finds Romney in the lead with 22 percent, followed by Gingrich at 16 percent support.