According to a survey published by the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat on Monday, half of all Finns would like to see the former finance minister and National Coalition Party chair fill the post. However Niinistö, 61, has said he is losing interest in another possible presidential bid.
No politicians from the other parties gained similar support. Two possible Centre Party candidates, European Commissioner Olli Rehn and Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, garnered 18 percent backing each. Former Social Democratic PM Paavo Lipponen was close behind at 17 percent.
Top choices from outside the political realm include Sirkka Hämäläinen, former Bank of Finland governor and European Central Bank board member, and Jorma Ollila, Non-Executive Chairman of both Nokia and Shell.
Over 1,000 Finns participated in the Gallup poll.
President Tarja Halonen is mid-way through her second six-year term. She is not eligible for re-election in 2012, as there is a two-term cap on those holding the post.