A new Quinnipiac poll solidified a growing perception that the Republican nomination could be Mitt Romney's to lose.

Given a field of nine candidates, 25 percent of respondents would choose Romney if the Republican primary were held today. Sarah Palin, who has not yet entered the race, followed with 15 percent, and the remainder of the candidates lagged in single digits.

The 2012 election will likely turn primarily on the economy, with anemic unemployment numbers exposing President Obama to a fresh wave of criticism. Romney has made his business experience the centerpiece of his campaign, focusing on reviving the flagging economy through job creation.

The poll also found that voters would be more comfortable with a Jewish, evangelical Christian or Catholic president than with a Mormon (Romney is Mormon). Still, Romney emerged from the poll as a clear favorite.