Mitt Romney at a town hall-style event at the University of New Hampshire in Manchester.
Mitt Romney at a town hall-style event at the University of New Hampshire in Manchester. Stephan Savoia/AP
A new USA Today/Gallup poll provided more evidence of Mitt Romney's growing strength as frontrunner for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, boosting the chance that other GOP White House hopefuls will seek to raise doubts about him in voters' minds at their New Hampshire debate Monday evening and beyond.
The new poll put Romney, who's seen as the establishment candidate, at 24 percent, significantly ahead of the rest of the pack while Sarah Palin was at 16 percent, Herman Cain at 9 percent and Ron Paul at 7 percent.
The survey, conducted between June 8-11 showed Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, gaining seven percentage points with Republicans and Republican-leaving independents since the previous May 20-24 survey which gave him 17 percent of support.
Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum were tied at six percent; Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich at five percent; Gary Johnson, two percent, and Jon Huntsman and Rick Perry at one percent.
Palin, of course, is the 2008 vice presidential nominee and former Alaska governor. Where she intends to run for the White House is far from certain to anyone outside her circle.
Some recent polls have shown significant numbers of Republicans saying they wouldn't support a presidential bid by her.
Assuming she doesn't run, it seems unlikely her supporters would resort to Romney. Because she has strong support from members of the Tea Party movement, it seems more likely those voters could splinter among Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor; Santorum, the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, and Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota.