WASHINGTON, July 21 (UPI) -- A poll shows former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leading a wide-open contest for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.
In a Washington Post-ABC News poll, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin comes in second place, with U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota in third. Palin hasn't yet announced her candidacy.
If Palin decides not to enter the race, Bachmann moves into second place and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas runs third -- the only other candidate in double digits.
The poll said Romney leads the pack on three important attributes: leadership, experience and the ability to beat President Barack Obama in the election. However, Romney's support amongst Tea Party constituents is low, the poll said.
Poll officials said the interesting part of the latest survey is that Palin still has a lot of support despite her well-known shortcomings -- and because she hasn't said whether she will seek the presidency.
Without Palin in the race, Romney led the field of candidates at 30 percent. Bachman would have 16 percent, Paul would have 11 percent and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, still considering running, would have 8 percent.
If Palin decides to run she would capture 18 percent of the vote from Republicans and GOP-leaning independents, the poll said.
Palin also leads the polls among non-college-educated voters, the report said.