Rick Perry Leads CNN Poll Going Into Debate, Followed by Mitt Romney and... Sarah Palin

In anticipation of the GOP presidential debate it's hosting, CNN released its freshest poll numbers, with Texas Gov. Rick Perry leading the pack -- ahead by 12 percentage points over second-place Mitt Romney.

The poll showed that 30 percent of the 446 Republican voters surveyed said they'd be most likely to support Perry for the GOP nomination, followed by Romney at 18 percent, and a woman who hasn't even said she's running for president -- Sarah Palin -- at 15 percent.

The lead Perry has over Romney is actually a bit smaller than the last poll, which showed a 30-17 split in late August.

Among the other candidates, Rep. Ron Paul placed fourth with 12 percent, Herman Cain and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich were each chosen by 5 percent, and every other candidate -- including Rep. Michele Bachmann -- received less than 5 percent.

When respondents were asked the same question, except excluding Sarah Palin, Perry beats Romney 32-21, with Paul in fourth at 12 percent, and Gingrich and Bachmann each receiving 7 percent.

Paul had the largest increase in the poll -- when testing including or not including Palin -- jumping from 6 percent just a few weeks ago to 12 percent alongside Palin and 13 percent without her.

When respondents were asked how they'd feel if each candidate won the nomination, Palin received the most negative reactions from Republicans, with 19 percent responding that they'd be "upset."

Perry managed to lead the rest of the field on all of the questions asked in the poll, including likability, leadership quality, and chances of defeating President Barack Obama next year.

The Pulp will be heading to Tampa to detail what's going on at tonight's debate, so stay tuned for that one.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley