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Poll: Mitt Romney romps over GOP 2016 rivals

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Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Barack Obama,Paul Ryan,Iowa,2016 Elections,Rand Paul,Ted Cruz,Campaigns,Chris Christie,Mitt Romney,Jeb Bush,RNC

Republican voters are ready for a Mitt Romney “I told you so” campaign for president in 2016, as a new poll puts him far ahead of his GOP rivals and shows that he’s the favorite of “Born Again voters,” key to winning early primaries and caucuses.

“Should Mitt Romney decide to run, he would be the man to beat,” pollster John Zogby said in a memo provided to Secrets.

In the poll of Republicans, Romney leads with 20 percent, followed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at 12 percent, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul 11 percent, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz 9 percent, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee 8 percent and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush 6 percent.

Zogby said that Romney “has an ‘I Told You So’ factor that helps him among Republican voters on Iraq, immigration, and on the budget.”

The pollster said that Romney’s lead over potential GOP rivals is due in part to his widely-known name. He has run for president twice and was the governor of Massachusetts.

But he added that Romney, who has said he is not running in 2016, also continues to hold the respect of most in the GOP. As a result, he leads among men, women, moderates and conservatives.

Zogby noted that Romney, a Mormon, also has the support of evangelicals, a group that heavily influences the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucus and one was cool to him in 2012.

“What is most impressive to me is the 23 percent support he receives from self-described Born Again voters. His closest rival among this group is Mike Huckabee with 14 percent. 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,” wrote Zogby.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.