Poll: Romney, Palin See Boost; Obama Vulnerable

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Religion may be another question. Romney, a Mormon, has 15 percent support for the nomination from born-again and evangelical white Protestants, a core GOP group, vs. 23 percent from non-evangelicals. Evangelicals accounted for 44 percent of Republican primary voters in 2008, and Romney won 20 percent of their votes, vs. 28 percent from non-evangelicals.

Palin, for her part, does slightly better with white evangelical Republicans than with non-evangelicals, 23 percent vs. 15 percent. But Romney edges Palin among conservative potential GOP voters, and runs evenly with her among supporters of the Tea Party political movement.

Romney is strongest within his party among those earning more than $100,000 a year -- with 30 percent support vs. Palin's 9 percent -- and those with college degrees, 28-10 percent. Palin comes back among those less well-off, leading Romney by 25 percent to 11 percent among people with incomes less than $50,000. They're more closely matched in the middle-income group and among non-graduates.

OBAMA/ROMNEY -- With Romney matched against Obama, most Republicans and conservative groups rally. Romney hauls in 87 percent of Republicans, 71 percent of conservatives and evangelical white Protestants alike, and two-thirds of "very conservative" Americans. No candidate does better against Obama among any of these groups.

Romney gains 72 percent support from the 46 percent of Americans who describe themselves as supporters of the Tea Party political movement. But, showing breadth, he also draws in 48 percent of independents, the key swing voters.

Romney currently fares better against Obama than John McCain did in 2008 among several important groups, and some surprising ones. Romney and Obama run evenly among women, a group Obama won by 13 points in 2008; among white women, while McCain won by 7 points, Romney leads by 18. McCain won white Catholics, an important swing-voting group, by 5 points, while Romney leads here by 19.

Romney runs about evenly with Obama in the Midwest, a region Obama won by 10 points in 2008. While 18-29-year-olds still overwhelmingly favor Obama regardless of the Republican candidate, his margin against Romney is 23 points, vs. 34 points against McCain. Even among liberals, Obama's edge is down -- 79 points vs. McCain, 61 vs. Romney.

CONSIDER? -- As suggested above, Romney's position far from shuts down other potential GOP runners. Majorities of leaned Republicans say they'd consider each of a dozen potential candidates tested, or at least haven't decided yet. Those garnering the most flat objections include Palin -- 38 percent say they definitely would not support her for the nomination; Ron Paul, 36 percent; and Newt Gingrich, 34 percent. Still, just 18 percent, by contrast, say there's no way they'd consider Romney.

OBAMA'S BASE -- Obama, while down, is hardly out. Against Romney he retains support from 86 percent of Democrats and 79 percent of liberals, and majorities (regardless of his opposition) among non-whites, 18-to29-year-olds, moderates, East and West coast residents, college graduates, and people with incomes less than $50,000 a year. He gets more than two-thirds of the vote from those who are satisfied with the way the government is working and those who think the economy has begun to recover -- but these ranks are thin.

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