WASHINGTON—According to a Gallup poll released Thursday, a majority of Americans believe the best and most satisfying aspect of the entire 2012 presidential primary experience has been the opportunity to spend extended time in the company of four just really terrific guys.

Calling Republican candidates Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul "truly great individuals right down the line," and a group they had long wanted to get to know better, citizens across the country expressed deep gratitude for the chance not only to be around the four men, but to really learn more about who they are as people.

"The thing I'll miss most about the primaries, once they've sadly drawn to a close, won't be the process of figuring out who should be our next president, but getting to see my four new friends every day and have them in my life," said poll respondent Marie Sedran, echoing the sentiments of millions nationwide. "I mean, how many opportunities do you get in life to spend quality time with even one smart, charming, likable, sensitive, and downright lovely human being, let alone four at once!"

"Honestly, all through this entire primary season I've been pinching myself," Sedran added. "What did we do to deserve these four fantastic gentlemen?"

According to poll participants, a number of factors have made this year's widely cherished presidential contest "an utter joy from day one," such as hearing Newt Gingrich's voice on a regular basis; learning more about Rick Santorum's opinions on a variety of topics; getting a nice, full picture of Mitt Romney's personal and political history; and enjoying Ron Paul's "bright, winning smile and regular-guy charm."

Several respondents also remarked that over time, the group of men had stopped being "Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul: presidential candidates," and had simply become "Mitt, Newt, Ricky, and Ron: just a great bunch of fellas."

While each candidate was singled out for individual adoration in the poll results, a majority of Americans said that when the four men appeared together, in a debate format, the whole of the GOP field became even more pleasant and admirable than the sum of its parts.

"The only problem I had watching the four of them on stage together—and I mean the only problem—was trying to figure out which one I liked the best!" poll participant Tom Yardley, 45, told reporters. "Between Mitt's relatability, Rick's charm, Newt's soulfulness, and Ron's lovable sense of fun and good cheer, how could I pick a favorite, really? Eventually I decided to just relax, not worry about it, and enjoy hanging with these guys, because they're all great, they're all special, and they're all a blast to be around."

"Heck, can't they all just be president?" Yardley added.

While the poll reflects the joy and high spirits voters feel toward the candidates, it was also tinged with a slight bittersweet note, owing largely to the knowledge among respondents that the race would eventually come to an end, and that the experience of seeing the four men with such regularity, either together or apart, would be over one day soon.

"How do you say goodbye to a group of guys who started as four virtual strangers, and have since become something more akin to the four best pals you ever had?" said wistful poll respondent Diane Westhead, tears welling up in her eyes. "Kind of makes you stop and think a little bit about the impermanence of life, doesn't it? And how all good times must eventually come to an end."

"One thing's for sure: I will forever cherish these past few months, when four right-wing friends named Mitt, Ricky, Newt, and Ron came into our lives, touched our hearts, and made our world a little less gray and a little more full of wonder," Westhead continued. "No matter what happens from here on out, they really are the best group of guys a country ever had, aren't they?"