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Insiders: Romney Is Top GOP 2012 Contender, Daniels Second Insiders: Romney Is Top GOP 2012 Contender, Daniels Second

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Insiders: Romney Is Top GOP 2012 Contender, Daniels Second


Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.(Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The standings were determined by Republican Insiders who are asked to rank five contenders who they think are most likely to capture the GOP 2012 nomination. A first-place vote is worth five points; a second-place vote is worth four points and so on. The contenders' rankings reflect the percentage of total points each receives out of the maximum possible. For example, Romney received rating of 78, meaning he received 78 percent of the possible 535 points, the number he would have received if all 107 participants in the poll this week had ranked him first.

Who would be the Republicans' strongest presidential nominee in 2012?
Democrats (113 votes)
Jan. 2011
Jan. 2010
Mitt Romney 24% 29%
Mitch Daniels 17% 11%
Jeb Bush 14% 5%
John Thune 11% 15%
Tim Pawlenty 9% 13%
Also receiving votes: Mike Huckabee, 7%; Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, 4% each; Haley Barbour, 3%; Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, 2% each; Michael Bloomberg, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Bob McDonnell, David Petraeus, 1% each.

Democratic Insiders were asked to assess who would be the strongest candidates that Republicans could put up against Obama and Romney was a small plurality winner. But in this poll as well, Daniels' standing also rose from a year before. But perhaps most surprising was the relatively strong showing by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R). Not so long ago Democrats -- and more than few Republicans -- thought the Bush name might be politically toxic. In the midterm campaigns, Democrats did their best to tie their GOP opponents with the tarnished legacy of the previous president. But that strategy was not very effective. As one Democratic Insider put it, "The strongest [GOP] nominee needs to be conservative enough to get nominated, have a record of accomplishment, not scare moderates and Latino voters, and be able to raise close to a billion dollars. Bush is the only one that checks all of the boxes."

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