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Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney ran for president in 2008 and 2012. He says he isn't going to make a third run in 2016, but that hasn't stopped people from speculating. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
If he runs, Mitt Romney’s the man to beat in 2016, poll says

"Should Mitt Romney decide to run, he would be the man to beat."

That’s the take of pollster John Zogby and it’s based on an online survey of likely Republican primary voters conducted last week.

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Zogby sized up the 2016 field, gauging the strength of 13 GOP contenders and in that crowd Romney claimed 20 percent.

That may not sound high, but consider that the second place was the generic "other candidate" with 17 percent.

In the second tier was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie with 12 percent, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul at 11 percent and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at 9 percent.

Zogby noted that Romney’s strength crossed all categories from moderate Republicans to conservatives, from women to men and even among Born Again Christians.

That last one impressed Zogby, who wrote in a memo: "This was the group that was most troubled by Romney’s leadership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and his strong showing in this poll not only shows a lead, but how other candidates are splitting the remainder. They alone represent almost half of GOP primary voters and their support is vital."

Romney has repeatedly said he is not considering a third presidential campaign, but that hasn’t stopped others from trying to court him. The former Massachusetts governor has also kept his political profile high by campaigning for Republicans in a variety of states.



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