In another measure of the field, Republicans chose Romney as the only one of a dozen possible candidates they would “strongly consider” for the party’s nomination as opposed to stating that they definitely would not vote for him. He and Palin scored equal numbers of respondents who said they would strongly consider supporting them, but Palin has more than double the percentage who have ruled her out.
Other candidates fared poorly on this count, including former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.), whose campaign got off to a rocky start; Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.), a libertarian who has a passionate following but many detractors; and former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.), who announced his candidacy on Monday.
The Massachusetts health-care plan enacted under Romney remains a potentially serious problem in the former governor’s bid. By nearly 2 to 1, Republicans oppose the plan, with strong detractors far outnumbering solid supporters. But there is some potential for him to frame the matter: Almost four in 10 Republicans expressed no opinion about the state’s program.
Overall dissatisfaction with the GOP field remains high, with as many respondents saying they are unhappy with their choices as say they are satisfied. At this time four years ago, nearly seven in 10 Republicans said they were satisfied with their field of candidates.
In head-to-head matchups with Obama, Palin trails by 17 percentage points, the worst of the six possible candidates tested. The president leads Gingrich and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman Jr. by 10 points. He runs 11 points ahead of former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty and 13 points ahead of Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.).
Romney owes his relatively good standing against the president to support from independents. He and Obama garner roughly equal percentages from those in their own parties. But independents split for Romney 50 percent to 43 percent.
The president continues to receive positive marks as a strong leader, but the 55 percent rating marks a low point of his presidency. He gets mixed reviews on empathy and on sharing the same values as respondents.
The telephone poll was conducted June 2-5 among a random national sample of 1,002 adults. The results from the full survey have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Polling manager Peyton M. Craighill and polling analyst Scott Clement contributed to this report.