Republicans and Republican-leaning independents have no clear favorite for the party’s 2012 presidential nomination, Gallup says, with Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin in a statistical tie for the lead.

The most recent survey shows Huckabee’s support increasing from 12 percent in September to 18 percent this month, Romney’s declining from 19 percent to 16 percent, and Palin’s staying flat at 16 percent.

The lack of a clear leader is a departure from what Gallup has found in previous election cycles, when one candidate took an early lead and generally hung on to win the nomination. The exception, Gallup said, was in 2007, when Rudy Giuliani led in early preference polls but faded late in the year and performed poorly in the initial primaries and caucuses.

Gallup surveyed 1,326 adults. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points.

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