A new Gallup poll shows Mitt Romney clinging to a small lead over Rick Perry in a hypothetical 2012 primary.
1. Mitt Romney 17%
2. Rick Perry 15%
3. Sarah Palin 12%
4. Michele Bachmann and Rudy Giuliani 11%
6. Ron Paul 8%
7. Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich 3%
9. Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman, and Rick Santorum 2%
a. Perry's support is robust. If Palin and Giuliani don't run, Perry still emerges as Romney's closest competitor, although Romney widens the gap in that scenario -- probably because he pulls in more of Rudy's vote than Perry does Palin's.
b. Romney's, too. He leads regardless of who's in the race, and has maintained the advantage since May.
c. Palin's ideological divide. This is weird. She actually scores better with self-described "liberal" and "moderate" Republicans (14%) than with "conservative" Republicans (11%).
In fact, she doubles Bachmann among liberals and moderates, and Bachmann beats her among conservatives.
d. Pawlenty disappears. 2% and tied with Santorum and Huntsman -- candidates who never even appeared. It's time to stop calling T-Paw a first tier candidate.
e. The big finish. Here's the table, charting results from various permutations of the race.