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49% See Romney As Qualified to Be President, Less Confident of Other GOP Candidates

Mitt Romney is the only Republican 2012 hopeful that a sizable number of voters considers qualified to be president. Sarah Palin is the one they view as least qualified, but, at this early stage, many voters are still in the dark about all the possible candidates.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 49% of Likely U.S. Voters think that Romney, a former Massachusetts governor and unsuccessful GOP presidential candidate in 2008, is qualified to be president. Twenty-five percent (25%) say he is not qualified, and another 25% are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Still, that's well above how voters view some of Romney's chief competitors in the race. Twenty-seven percent (27%) rate both former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and maverick Texas GOP Congressman Ron Paul as qualified to be in the White House. But 32% say Pawlenty is not qualified, and 42% are undecided.

As for Paul, 43% think he's not qualified to serve as president, but 31% aren't sure.

Twenty-six percent (26%) believe former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has the qualifications to be president, but nearly half (48%) disagree. Twenty-six percent (26%) are not sure.

However, voters feel strongest that Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee in 2008, is not qualified. Twenty-three percent (23%) say the former Alaska governor is qualified to serve as the nation's chief executive, but 63% say she is not qualified. Palin is the best-known of the Republicans with just 15% undecided about her.

Perceptions of Romney and Palin are unchanged from a year ago, but voters are a little more skeptical of Gingrich's qualifications now. 

These new findings suggest that the 2012 race remains a referendum on President Obama at this early stage since voters continue to be almost evenly divided when asked if they want to reelect the president. In every matchup tested so far this year against potential GOP challengers, the president's support has stayed between 42% and 49%.

Twenty percent (20%) of voters say Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman are qualified to be president. Forty-five percent (45%), though, say Bachmann is not qualified enough, and one-in-three (34%) don't know her well enough to venture any opinion.

Twenty-eight percent (28%) think Huntsman, who recently stepped down as U.S. ambassador to China, lacks the qualifications to be president, but over half (52%) have no opinion.

Businessman Herman Cain is seen as qualified to serve as president by only 18% and not qualified enough by 35%. Forty-seven percent (47%) aren't sure.

Among Republican voters, Romney leads as well, with 66% who feel he's qualified to be president. Grouped together next in terms of whether GOP voters think they're qualified are Gingrich (43%), Palin (42%) and Pawlenty (41%).

Voters in their own party have more mixed feelings or a lack of knowledge about the other possible candidates.

Rasmussen Reports is an electronic media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion polling information.  We poll on a variety of topics in the fields of politics, business and lifestyle, updating our site's content on a news cycle throughout the day, everyday.

Rasmussen Reports Platinum Members get an all-access pass to polling news, analysis and insight not available to the general public.

Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports, has been an independent pollster for more than a decade. To learn more about our methodology, click here.

Two national surveys of 1,000 Likely Voters were conducted June 2-3 and June 4-5, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

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©2011 Rasmussen Reports, LLC

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