Mitt Romney leads in early S.C. GOP presidential poll

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney waves to supporters while campaigning in Charlotte, N.C., during the 2012 presidential race.

Former Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney leads an early White House preference poll of South Carolina voters, followed by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and current Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

The telephone survey of 831 likely GOP primary voters was conducted last week by Gravis Marketing of Florida.

Romney got 20 percent, followed by Bush at 16 percent and Walker at 9 percent.

The results were reported by Doug Kaplan, managing partner of Gravis Marketing. The respondents were surveyed by phone Jan. 21-22.

Romney was the GOP nominee for president in 2012 against President Barack Obama. He lost in the 2012 S.C. Republican primary to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

“Although Gingrich won, Romney was the eventual nominee as that race was constantly changing leaders,” Kaplan said. “But Romney was consistently near the top as his rivals rose and fell,” he said.

The rest of the field got the following: former Arkansas governor and media figure Mike Huckabee, 8 percent; Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, 8 percent; Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, 7 percent; Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, 7 percent; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, 5 percent; former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, 4 percent; and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, 4 percent.

About 12 percent were undecided.

Two potential candidates, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, were not included in the survey.

The poll carries a margin of error of 3 percent. The survey was directed at likely primary voters by telephone using automated responses.

South Carolina’s primary is set for mid-February next year.

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551