Looking at 2012, Fox News polls Obama versus employees Palin, Gingrich

In a poll released today, Fox News asked registered voters who they would vote for in the next presidential election: President Obama or Republicans Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney. Both Gingrich and Palin are under contract with the channel as “political analysts”/“contributors.”

Fox News - the host, chief promoter, and favorite outlet of the tea parties - also asked voters to choose between Obama and an unnamed “candidate from the Tea Party Movement” (Obama wins 48 - 23).

Fox News previously polled host Mike Huckabee for the 2012 nomination. Last week, contributor Rick Santorum announced he's exploring a run for the nomination.

As Media Matters' Karl Frisch, Crooks and Liars' John Amato and others have noted, it's looking increasingly like the path to the 2012 GOP nomination is through Fox News. After all, the conservative channel provides a low-accountability forum for aspiring candidates to stay in the spotlight and blatantly promote their political interests - all while pulling a paycheck.

While not on Fox's payroll, Romney is still a frequent presence on the channel. Since the beginning of the year, Romney has appeared on Hannity, Fox & Friends (twice), On the Record and Fox Business Network's Cavuto.