ABC News' Amy Walter reports:
One of the big questions for 2012: which Republican will win the affection of Tea Party voters. While ex-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Rep. Michele Bachmann are the most closely identified with the Tea Party cause, the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll finds that it's ex-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney who does best among voters who identify as Tea Party supporters.
In a head to head match-up against President Barack Obama, seventy percent of those who say they are Tea Party supporters say they'll vote for Romney compared to 61 percent for Palin and 60 percent for Bachmann. Ex-Gov. Mike Huckabee narrowly trails Romney, taking 69 percent of the Tea Party vote.
According to the poll, 37 percent of these Tea Party supporters say they are Republicans, 11 percent identify as Democrats and 47 percent identify as independents. But, when independents are asked to pick which party they lean toward, the Tea Party universe looks a whole lot more Republican. With leaners, 68 percent of these self-identified Tea Party supporters say they are Republicans, 21 percent are Democrats and 11 percent are independents.
Among those who identify as “strongly supportive” of the Tea Party movement, Trump is the most popular, but Romney is also well-liked. Of this group, 79 percent of said they’d support Trump over President Obama compared to 78 percent for Palin, 77 percent for Huckabee and 76 percent for Romney.
Romney also runs strongest among those who identify themselves as Republican, taking 85 percent of the GOP vote against President Obama. The candidate who does the worst among Republicans? “The Donald” who takes just 68 percent of the Republican vote.