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New poll has Romney, Bush on top in crowded potential GOP field

On the same day former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush took a step toward a presidential run, a new poll has good news for him — even if former GOP nominee Mitt Romney would have the edge if he takes a third whack at the White House.

A McClatchy-Marist poll of 360 Republicans and GOP-leaning independents has Romney as the preferred choice among 19 percent of those polled. Bush comes in second with 14 percent, while New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee are at 9 percent. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 5.2 percent.

What happens if Romney takes a pass in 2016?

Bush becomes the leading candidate with 16 percent of the vote.

Sixty-four percent of those polled said they think it’s more important to choose a nominee who will back conservative principles instead of one who has the best shot of winning the White House.

For the Democrats, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is far and away the preferred choice. Among 429 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, she’d get 62 percent of the vote. Vice President Joe Biden comes at 11 percent, which is a significant difference from another poll that had him getting only 2 percent to the vote.

Complete December 2014 McClatchy_Marist Poll_2016_Release and Tables.pdf