Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, was favored by 22 percent of those surveyed for the latest Quinnipiac University national poll, results released Wednesday showed. He was followed by Georgia businessman Herman Cain, with 17 percent, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry with 14 percent.
The Hamden, Conn., school said Perry's showing represents a 10-point drop from the university's Aug. 31 survey when Perry polled 24 percent, followed by Romney at 18 percent, and Cain in sixth place with 5 percent.
Christie announced Tuesday he would not enter the GOP primary, despite pressure from insiders and donors to do so.
In hypothetical match-ups, Romney has a 46 percent-to-42 percent lead over President Obama. Obama has a 45 percent-to-44 percent edge over Perry.
U.S. voters, by a 54 percent-to-42 percent tally, said Obama does not deserve re-election, the latest Quinnipiac poll indicated.
Results are based on nationwide telephone interviews with 2,118 registered voters Sept. 27-Oct. 3. The margin of error is 2.1 percentage points. The Republican primary includes 927 voters with a margin of error of 3.2 percent.