Mitt Romney sailed past Jeb Bush as the top choice among voters for the Republican Party's 2016 presidential campaign, according to a new Fox News poll
Although he has continued to deny he is running again, Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, enjoys a healthy lead over all potential GOP rivals with the support of 19 percent of self-identified Republicans.
Coming in second with 10 percent support is Bush, a former Florida governor, who announced via Facebook this week that he was actively exploring
the GOP nomination.
For the first time, the Fox News poll included Romney as one of the options, and he and Bush were the only two potential candidates with double-digit backing. In the previous poll, Bush led with 12 percent.
The rest of the field, which includes New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, all garner 8 percent of the vote, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker lags behind at 7 percent.
Former Fox News contributor and neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan both had 6 percent support, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has 5 percent, the poll says.
"Rumors about Romney running again are likely to get a further boost with these numbers," Republican pollster Daron Shaw, who joined with Democratic pollster Chris Anderson, tells Fox News
"With Romney and Bush running one and two among GOPers, you wonder if John McCain or Bob Dole want to get in on the action," Shaw added.
On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton holds an overwhelming 62 percent to 12 percent lead over her closest rival, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Since her less-than-impressive book tour and some well-publicized gaffes, speculation about a Warren candidacy have increased, which is reflected by Clinton's slight decline in the Fox News poll.
Since April, Clinton's support fell from 69 percent to 64 percent in July, and is now at 62 percent.
The findings of the Fox News poll are similar to a recent Quinnipiac University Poll
, which also showed Romney and Clinton topping their respective party's presidential fields.
In that survey, released on Nov. 26, Republican voters nationwide favor Romney over Bush by a 19 percent to 11 percent margin. Christie and Carson are tied at 8 percent, while no other Republican tops 6 percent. Among national Republicans, 16 percent remain undecided.
If Romney sticks with his position that he is not running, Bush would take the top spot with 14 percent. Christie follows at 11 percent and Carson with 9 percent.
Meanwhile, the Quinnipiac poll found Clinton's support at 57 percent, with Warren garnering the support of 13 percent of national Democrats and Vice President Joseph Biden trailing at 9 percent.
"Remember Mitt? Republicans still have Gov. Mitt Romney top of mind and top of the heap in the potential race for the top job. But Jeb Bush looms large in second place," Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said in a press release.
"With New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie also in the mix, it looks like Republican voters are favoring more moderate choices for 2016," Malloy said.
In a new Monmouth University poll
, Clinton also holds a strong 48 percent to 6 percent lead over Warren, although many voters appear open to alternatives.
"When nearly half of Democratic voters volunteer the name Hillary Clinton as their choice for 2016, it’s hard to deny that she is the clear front runner.
"At the same, time Democrats do not want the nomination process to be a coronation," said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, in a press release.
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